Harry Potter and his Time Turner

  1. For HP fans only.
    Last night my sister and me were watching " HP and the POA " on TV.
    In one of the scenes Harry and Hermione use an instrument known as the time turner to travel back to the past and try to save Buckbeak and Sirius Black . As they use the time turner, they find that several of the unusual things that had happened in the "past" , like the stone being thrown into the window to alert them etc, were all part of their doing using the time turner, and so they repeat what they had seen or heard in the "past" while they are using the device. In effect, they don't change anything that had already happened in the past.
    This becomes a paradox, if I may use the term, since had they used the time turner any no of times they would also alter the past, which is not possible (suppose using the time turner they throw two stones instead of one through the window, but we already know that there was only one stone in the past).
    Also a similar argument would mean that Sirius and Buckbeak were already saved( just like the stone was thrown ).
    So what use is the time turner anyway?
    Or is there something that I am missing ?
  2. jcsd
  3. wolram

    wolram 3,552
    Gold Member

    Multiple universe theory :yuck: time paradox sucks.
  4. Yeah, you're right. Time paradoxes... we don't know. Lets have wolram go back in time five minutes ago and find out. It'd be easier if time travel just couldn't happen..
  5. It's sort of a cycle and we started watching the events from one of those cycles.
  6. Uh...it's a fictional story that conatins magic. Don't try to apply logic to it.
  7. So why do they use the device in any case ?
    Maybe JK Rowling didn't think of it while writing amd probably the director was helpless.
    Anyway, I was having this debate with my sister, who needless to say is a Pottermaniac, and she was going blahblah over how I don't understand what the author meant and ,apparently, she understood.:yuck:

    Guess I won the debate then.
    :approve: :approve: :approve:
    Last edited: May 22, 2006
  8. Just to make the movie longer?! :tongue2: I'm no harry potter fan. Infact, I was averse to all this hype about a children's story. But the HP movies were my only source of entertainment (after the news channels :rofl: ) for the past couple of weeks with CAS in place.
  9. selfAdjoint

    selfAdjoint 7,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Rowling wrote the story using the "undetectable change" approach. According to this, Harry and Hermione didn't actually MAKE a change, their worldline was actually there in the "present" they were acting on (they had to hide from themselves) but the original evidence was misinterpreted (like hearing the Thunk! of the ax and thinking it was Buckbeak being killed). So there was actually only one world and the time trip was a permanent and necessary part of it!

    In which case all the excitement and worry about whether the time travel would work was unnecessary, but by the time you reach that conclusion you are further on in the book or movie. That is Rowling's art.

  10. I don't get what you mean.
    Can you tell me what would have happened, had they not made the time travel ? I think that is where the paradox lies and where Rowling failed to
    explain (very cleverly) . Maybe what you meant to say was that the time travel was part of the present, but surely the characters can act according to free will and not be forced into actions .
    Can you please make your post clearer ?
  11. Ouabache

    Ouabache 1,316
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    As may be recalled from the book , Professor McGonagall issued the time-turner to Hermione allowing her to attend more classes than could normally be taken in one day. (She had "Muggle's Studies" , "Arithmancy" and "Divination" and all of them were taught at 9am). She was given specific instructions how to use it. She was to be careful not to disturb anything in the past especially be careful not to meet herself, as it would have dire repercussions.

    Their use of the time-turner at the end of Prisoner of Azkaban was necessary in order to save Buckbeak from execution and Sirius from getting his soul sucked from him by the dementors. It does create what is known in sci-fi circles as a predestination paradox. It is a causal loop that necessitates time-travel to fulfill predestined events.

    Here is an excellent discussion regarding the use of time-turners in the Harry Potter idiom.

    excerpt from this discussion:
    What I wondered (in reading the book), was why Hermione seemed to be tired all the time from her heavy schedule. We knew she was using the time turner to attend more classes. She could have also used it to add more hours of rest and study each day. My guess is, she may have considered this overstepping the privilege for use of the time turner.
    Last edited: May 23, 2006
  12. Thanks for the excellent links Ouabache .
  13. Ouabache

    Ouabache 1,316
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    My pleasure.. :wink: Analyzing alternate realities are great fun for the logical (and sometimes illogical) mind :biggrin:

    Though I am suprised we didn't see more HP readers, offer their thoughts. (here is a sampling of HP fans on our forum)
    Last edited: May 24, 2006
  14. selfAdjoint

    selfAdjoint 7,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    I am surprised I wasn't on that thread; I should have been as I'm a big HP fan.
  15. Time travel in Harry Potter: POA

    I think time paradoxes are silly and don't have relevance in real physics. You can't go back in time and change an event that is known to have occurred with physical proof or evidence of the event. Not even without proof!

    Lee Harvey Oswald was an expert sharpshooter trained in the Marine Corps but was a loser in life who wanted to be "important" and thought killing the president would make him a hero to other Communists like him. No one can stop him if they travel back to Dallas in 1963 because that's how it happened. Thousands of years from now, we may lose the evidence of this and people will have to guess about Kennedy unless they go back to that point in time and see for themselves.

    People thought there was nothing between Spain and India in 1492 until those explorers stayed in the Caribbean for a few years and then realized, they simply were not in India but a new group of islands. One 14th century monk (can't remember the name) thought people would go back in time to Ancient Rome and be crucified because they were "Christian" if they sailed over the known horizon. A faster route to the Spice islands under India (Southeast Asia) was the real goal of Columbus. (The world being ''flat" thing. Don't know where that came from. Probably made up in the 19th century or something. The ancient Greeks knew the Earth was a sphere!)

    My point is, if you could teleport through time (and to the point in space where Earth was in your past) you could see the past happening before you.

    If Hermione messed up and "met herself" in the same class or school area, others would know she used a time turner and report her. She would then have it taken away from her. The events in HP: POA where they see their past selves doesn't contradict physics (minus the "magic" of the time turner) or create any "parallel universe" which is the stupidest idea used in time travel stories in modern science fiction today.

    Those stories are just good drama but Harry Potter stories are not so complex (like Star Trek) or they would go over children's heads and bore them. By the way..."free will" means nothing in real life. I have free will to want to fly like Superman but gravity says humans can't fly under their own power. If I use technology, then I can fly, one day, just like he does; by thinking about it.. but not in this century.

    Maybe in 100 years, time travel will be just as routine as flying is now and just as regulated but for right now, its fantasy just like people flying in the air was pure fiction to people before the Montgolfier brothers flew in that hot air balloon in 1783.

    "RIDICULUOS!!!" ...Help. Me am into monkey turn me spell.
  16. arildno

    arildno 11,265
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    Gold Member

    There is no LOGICAL contradiction in the view proposed by Rowling.
    It does, however, show that ordinary concepts of "free will" are false.
  17. Harry Potter :yuck:

    Kids these days should be made to watch the Back to the Future trilogy at school - then they'll get a real flavour of time-travel :cool:
    :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool: :cool:
  18. I am so RELIEVED. I noticed this the first time I read that book, which was a few years ago (I don't think i was even in high school yet then) , and while I tried to explain how the ending (especially how Harry saved himself from the dementors) could not POSSIBLY make sense, no one understood me. Frankly, my friends probably all thought I was going insane. xD I was SO frustrated...

    okay, done ranting; you can all unplug your ears now ^^
  19. sas3

    sas3 201
    Gold Member

    As I was reading through this thread, I see people arguing about why it could not work, and that Rowling does not understand time travel, and they could not do that, and such.
    You people do understand that Harry Potter is just a fantasy story and we can not actually travel through time yet?
    Or don’t you?
    Or is my reality askew?
    See, now you have made me question my own reality.
    You are all frightening me...
  20. wolram

    wolram 3,552
    Gold Member

    Any one remember cat in red dwarf? he sure did not enjoy things going backwards.
  21. sas3

    sas3 201
    Gold Member

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