“Ha ha. This doesn’t make any sense,” I told Kris the other night. I was reading in bed with my red head-lamp on. She was trying to fall asleep.

“Mmflphh?” Kris said.

“This comic book,” I said. “It’s Rip Hunter…Time Master. Rip and his friends are going back in time, but they’ve got it all wrong.”

“Mmflphh?” Kris said.

“See, they start from one point on Earth and then boom they’re back in time at the same point. But that’s not how it would work. All time-travel stories make this mistake.”

Rip Hunter...Time Master

“You know time travel’s not real, right?” Kris asked.

“But pretend that it was,” I said. “If you were going to travel to Earth’s past, you wouldn’t just have to travel through time. You’d have to travel through space, too.”

Kris laughed and covered her face with the blanket.

“What?” I asked.

“Time travel’s not real!” she said. “It’s not like it’s an actual phenomenon and someone just forgot to work out the details. Besides, space and time are two sides of the same coin. You can’t move in time without moving in space. They’re connected. When you move back in time, you move to where something was in the past.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” I said. “Time and space are different. If I move back in time just an hour, for instance, but I don’t change my location, I’ll appear in the middle of space, right? Because the Earth is moving and the sun is moving and the galaxy is moving. If I want to appear in the same spot on Earth, I have to move in space, too.”

“J.D.,” she said. “It’s the space-time continuum. It’s physics. Space and time are the same thing!”

I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

xkcd on the space-time continuum
The great xkcd on the space-time contiuum.

Time passed.

“I know!” I said, as I finished my issue of Rip Hunter…Time Master.

“Mmflphh?” Kris said. She was almost back to sleep.

“It’s like passing a football,” I said. “When the quarterback passes the football downfield, he’s actually throwing it into the future, right? I mean, he’s passing it to where the wide receiver is going to be in a few seconds, not where he is now.”

Kris sighed and muttered something I couldn’t hear. I set Rip Hunter aside and picked up an issue of Amazing Adventures.

“I told my co-workers about you and your fascination with time travel,” Kris told me the next day.

“What did your little friends have to say?” I asked.

“Well, they laughed at your inability to grasp basic science, but they were more amused by the fact that you read comic books in bed,” Kris said.

“Doesn’t everyone?” I asked.

4 Replies to “J.D. Roth…Time Master”

  1. Have you ever read any books on physics and things like that? For you sir, I highly recommend The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Realityby Brian Greene. He talks a LOT on RadioLab and makes a ton of sense.

    P.S. I totally used to read comics in bed when I used to read comics.

  2. Procrastamom says:

    You and my husband would get along like a house on fire, JD. We have the time travel argument all the time, but it’s a little different with us. He loves the idea of time travel and speaks about it like it’s a real thing we’ll be capable of soon. I argue that things in the past are no longer there and events in the future are not there yet, so how can we go back/forward to them? We have heated debates about this all the time, but then Back To The Future will come on the TV on a Saturday afternoon and we’ll happily watch it together….again and again 🙂

  3. Wendy H says:

    *dies laughing* I’ve had these late night discussion before!!!

  4. Jolie says:

    This reminds me! The comic book store on Hawthorne is having a half-off sale this weekend. I saw the sign and thought of you.

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