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Time Manipulation/Stopping Time Question

  1. Jul 16, 2015 #1

    esuna

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    I had an idea for a story and its entire plot hinges on the ability of a civilization to "stop" time for the general population while allowing a select few to remain active. These select few would also need to be able to operate machinery and make changes to the landscape. Could an idea like that ever be engineered to be remotely believable?
     
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  3. Jul 16, 2015 #2
    I don't think so, but wrap it up in some pseudoscientific babble, and a lot of people will take it as believable. (Not physicists).
     
  4. Jul 17, 2015 #3

    esuna

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    It would be soft science fiction a la H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. As long as even the common layperson wouldn't scoff and throw it down.
     
  5. Jul 17, 2015 #4

    Drakkith

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    Just make it believable in-universe and you'll be fine.
     
  6. Jul 17, 2015 #5
    The only way I could conceive of such a thing is if they lived inside some sort of a matrioshka brain. In a virtual world, you can do whatever you want. Neo could stop time in the matrix.
     
  7. Jul 17, 2015 #6
    A technology that could actually stop time seems highly implausible.
    It would certainly violate many principles of currently understood physics.
    However a scenario similar to what you describe might be possible with a technology that could keep people in a state of suspended animation, (cryogenics maybe).
    That's quite a common plot device in sci fi stories which involve interstellar travel.
     
  8. Jul 17, 2015 #7

    esuna

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    I want a vast majority of the population immobilized, un-aging, while a small percentage are left unaffected and still age. Ideally I would like to avoid having to make everyone climb into a cryogenic pod every time. I want it to be an event that is an accepted part of this population's daily life, almost taken for granted. Something that is meant to not interrupt the lives of the majority of the population. Time manipulation was just my first thought (a technology that does something similar to what Masi Oka did on "Heroes"). If this could be achieved in other ways I'm open to any suggestions. I'm not familiar with the science fiction of suspended animation. Would it be achievable on a city-wide scale?
     
  9. Jul 17, 2015 #8
    I guess any fictional technology can be scaled up as much as you want it to be, though realistically you have to think within reasonable limits for power supply, and you'll also need to have some of the 'awake' people doing whatever is needed for maintenance, and operation of the technology.
     
  10. Jul 17, 2015 #9

    Drakkith

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    One of my favorite episodes of Stargate SG-1 is the very final episode where the team has to freeze time around them and is stuck on their ship for about 50 years while only seconds pass in the rest of the universe. The science behind the device that freezes time in absolutely not plausible in the real world, as is a lot of the science in the show. But who cares? Not me. The fact that it isn't realistic in the real world doesn't matter. It's plausible in-universe and that's all that matters.

    In short, whatever you do, even if it breaks the laws of physics, is perfectly okay if its justifiable in-universe and you remain consistent with it. Justifiable just means that it fits the story or you have some explanation as to why it doesn't fit the story but you still have it. For example, time-bending technology doesn't usually fit well with medieval time periods unless it turns out that the technology was found by them and isn't man-made.

    A few possibly relevant links from tvtropes:
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MinovskyPhysics
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MagicAIsMagicA
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ArtisticLicensePhysics?from=Main.PhysicsGoof
     
  11. Jul 17, 2015 #10

    esuna

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    Definitely. That's my opinion as well. That kind of Stargate/Star Trek believability is what I would go for. I'm actually a pretty big Stargate fan too. Although I've only seen Atlantis and SGU completely and only episodes here and there of SG-1. Dr. McKay rambles on and on about ideas that are absolute nonsense scientifically in reality, but somehow still draws the viewer in. It all comes down to writing "finesse" in a case like that.

    My protagonist that I have in mind is not a scientist and wouldn't know or care how the technology works, and the story would be told from his point of view. It's really just a backdrop more than anything. How it works or how it is possible could even be one of the mysteries of the plot I suppose.
     
  12. Jul 17, 2015 #11

    Drakkith

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    In that case you don't really even need to mention how the technology works at all, only that it does work.
     
  13. Jul 17, 2015 #12
    Sure, a good story is the basic of any good fiction.
    I can remember a discussion here (not so very long ago, but no time to look it up now),
    in which people were talking about science fiction as being different to science fantasy.
    The first being constrained to what is possible (as far as we know), and the later having no such constraint , (magic in other words).
    In the end though it's got to be an interesting story in order to be compelling to a reader/viewer.
     
  14. Jul 18, 2015 #13

    phinds

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    I've read a couple of sci-fi stories that used that premise. The physics was silly but the stories were entertaining.
     
  15. Jul 18, 2015 #14

    esuna

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    Interesting. Do you remember what they were?
     
  16. Jul 18, 2015 #15

    phinds

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    No, it was maybe 50 years ago, probably more, when I read them. Come to think of it, it HAD to be more because I remember thinking on the first one, something like, hey, I don't know any physics math, but there is just no way this could possibly work.
     
  17. Jul 18, 2015 #16

    Drakkith

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    I didn't realize they wrote Sci-Fi stories on papyrus.:wink:
     
  18. Jul 18, 2015 #17

    phinds

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    Yeah, and it was damned hard reading them by candlelight after a long day slaving over the pyramids.
     
  19. Jul 19, 2015 #18
    Does your future civilization have teleportation technology? There was a star trek next gen episode where Scotty crashed on a dyson sphere and put himself in the transporter buffer for the better part of a century.
     
  20. Jul 19, 2015 #19

    esuna

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    I don't really want it to be much more futuristic than modern day. I want a Fahrenheit 451 kind of city. I.e. They still use cars and don't have anything super futuristic. Except of course the ability to freeze time. Which may force me to adopt a "we discovered it" type of explanation rather than a "we developed it" explanation. They simply use the technology for expanding/improving/fixing their infrastructure and performing important scientific and medical research in no time at all for the average citizen (not the workers and sometimes scientists).
     
  21. Jul 20, 2015 #20
    How about instead of slowing down or stopping time for an entire population, you just greatly accelerate it for a local few? Scientifically, it's no more reasonably, but from a purely technical point, it's always easier to do something small and local than to do something uniformly across a huge area like a city.

    We know extreme gravity can drastically slow time, gravity pulls. Logically (not scientifically) to speed up time, push. Dark energy pushes and we don't know what it is, so it's a good candidate for sci-fi writers to give it some bizarre properties. If the extreme pulling force of gravity slows time, maybe your civilization create extreme dark energy to speed up time in localized areas.

    Like a black hole in reverse, those close to the extreme field would experience years or decades while those away from it will experience time normally.
     
  22. Jul 20, 2015 #21

    DHF

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    Just dont try to explain it and concentrate on the story and you will be fine. as long as your characters believe it. the reader will.
    The best explanation I ever read involved a pilot from the future, when she was interacting with a character from our time and he asked how her time machine worked she told him that he wouldn't understand. He got offended, offering that he was a scientist and pretty open minded, she smirked and told him " I didnt mean to offend you, you wouldnt understand not because you lack the comprehension but rather you wouldn't understand because I would need to reference fields of mathematics and physics that do not exist yet so any explanation I gave you would sound like gibberish"

    I thought it was pretty smoothly executed, its one of the few things I remember from that story. I cant even remember the title now.
     
  23. Jul 20, 2015 #22

    DHF

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    The other great explanation I read was from Dean Koontz's "Lighting" Where the protagonist admitted that he didn't know how the Time machine worked because he wasnt one of the scientists that built it. He was simply an Agent. he explained that he ignorance of the machine's mechanics and physics didn't stop him from using it just as one can have no understanding of how the inner workings of a TV function yet they would still be able to use the TV regardless.
     
  24. Nov 19, 2015 #23
    Hi Esuna

    "the ability of a civilization to "stop" time for the general population"

    Far, far in the future they solve the issue of 'time'
    They can move freely into the past or the future
    At that point, time no longer affects them. They are outside of time in that they can control it
    In your terms, they 'stop time for the general population'

    There is no issue of operating machinery or making changes to the environment
    These are all operated, in the far, far future, by mental effort. Force of will. The mind

    They have built doorways which allow them to go back into the past.
    In the far, far future everything is near-enough perfect, so the only way they can develop as beings is to go back into the past and experience the hardships of life as it was
    They can look into the past by means of video screens that enable them to rove and see events and lives happening
    They use these to select the person they want to be
    Once that is done, they arrange to be born as that person, and experience his or her life
    Today, in 2015, many people know that this sort of thing happens all the time. For want of a better name, they call it 'reincarnation'

    Let me know if you need any further details
    Best wishes
     
  25. Nov 25, 2015 #24
    Hmmm, let's see how I can do with technobabble....

    They've got a system that does a Wick rotation on the local spacetime. That turns everything imaginary. (Really.) Imaginary time (Hawking actually talks about that) doesn't progress like our time. You could make it a million times slower or something. You could throw in some stuff about their proper time being zero, just like light waves.

    The awake people have devices that do a reverse Wick rotation. (There really is such a thing that physicists use to simplify calculations.) So they stay in ordinary time. (The Catholic Church is always talking about "ordinary time." That's anything that isn't Easter or Advent, or something like that.)

    So how does it work? Just say that it has somehting to do with dark matter and energy. That's hot these days.

    Another way is to put something within a huge amount of mass. Time slows down in the center. That actually would work. Hmmm, it could be dark matter.... But the amount of mass might be so huge that the Sun would start orbiting around it, or the mass would be so dense it would be a black hole. Hmmmm.... the other big problem would be that there would be no way to exclude anyone from the effect, other than being outside the mass, which would be dangerous. So stick with the Wick rotation, that's my advice.
     
  26. Jan 11, 2016 #25

    esuna

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    Hey guys, thanks for the input. I haven't visited these boards in a long time unfortunately. In the meantime I've pretty much abandoned this idea. I've been thinking about scaling down the narrative by using cryogenic pods, available only for the filthy rich. Might work better in the context of what I'd like to achieve (scifi noir).
     
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