Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mother of All Paradoxes

The notorious mother paradox (sometimes formulated using other familial relationships) arises when people or objects can travel backward in time and alter the past. A simplified version involves billiard balls. A billiard ball passes through a wormhole time machine. When it emerges, it hits its earlier self, thereby preventing it from ever entering the wormhole.

Resolution of the paradox proceeds from a simple realization: the billiard ball cannot do something that is inconsistent with logic or with the laws of physics. It cannot pass through the wormhole in such a way that will prevent it from passing through the wormhole. But nothing stops it from passing through the wormhole in an infinity of other ways.

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