Author Topic: Physical causality paradox  (Read 2506 times)

Offline ukslim

  • Red Shirt
  • **
  • Posts: 122
    • View Profile
Physical causality paradox
« on: May 02, 2009, 09:48:58 AM »
A few usesful pages before I get started. Many of us cling to the idea of a paradox as being a self-contradicting idea (e.g. "Everything I say is a lie"). But a predestination paradox is not self contradictory. It's "A caused B, B caused A" meaning there was no root cause, so everything is neat but there's no root cause, which seems impossible.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predestination_paradox
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predestination_paradoxes_in_fiction
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causality_Loop

Now, Lost is chock full of predestination paradoxes.

But there's a specific causality paradox that interests me.  Boiled down to its simplest level it goes like this:
  • When I am 20 years old, I am visited by my 30 year old self, who gives me a watch
  • I keep the watch by my side for 10 years, never losing sight of it and winding it every day
  • When I am 30 years old, I use a time machine to visit my 20 year old self, and give him the watch.

Which raises two huge issues:
  • There is no opportunity for the watch to get manufactured.
  • What about wear and tear on the watch? Going back in time can't magically reverse any rusting or clogging, but we've set up a loop in which the watch has to keep ticking for an infinity.

WOOOOAH!

So the question is, has such a paradox with a physical object appeared in Lost. For some reason it's easier for me to accept when it's just an idea that's stuck in the loop.

If Eloise had taken dead Dan's notebook, and given it to him at the restaurant, that would have been the same situation - that is, Daniel never writes in the book, it is full of his handwriting when he receives it. But TPTB avoided that. She handed him a brand new notebook. There is the more abstract causation paradox, which is that she (presumably deliberately) bought one just like the one he had when he died.

The situation with Richard, Locke and the compass is a tempting one, but again I think it can be explained like this
  • Before 1954, Richard optains the compass (e.g. buys it)
  • 1954, Locke gives Richard the compass to prove he's from the future. (Richard now has two compasses, one more battered than the other -- that's why he believes Locke)
  • 1961, Richard tests 5-year-old Locke with the compass (doesn't matter which one)
  • Some time further into the future, Richard meets Locke and gives him the newer compass, telling him to return it next time they meet (1954)

The important thing is that Richard gives Locke the newer version of the compass. This prevents a loop, allows the compass to be manufactured and eventually wear out.

So, is there a real loop involving an object?  Are TPTB deliberately avoiding such a thing?
« Last Edit: May 02, 2009, 09:50:50 AM by ukslim »

Offline erh

  • Onlooker
  • *
  • Posts: 3
    • View Profile
Re: Physical causality paradox
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2009, 11:17:34 AM »
I agree there is a problem in the case someone gave themselves an item, but not when it is received from someone else.  If you believe in the universe course correction theory, then it wouldn't matter if Eloise gave the notebook to Daniel or not, somehow he acquired the notebook that ended up with him on the island when he was shot.

Offline TheBrightandTheDark

  • Dharma VIP
  • *******
  • Posts: 11284
    • View Profile
Re: Physical causality paradox
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2009, 12:22:38 PM »
Can I just say...I have been kicking around all these "paradox" threads having absolutely no clue what's going on, and in your one little post, I think I finally understand! So, thank you!

Now that I think I know what's going on, I'm about to venture a comment... lol! I hope there aren't two compasses. I know it would explain the How, and possibly dismiss this whole Paradox idea, but the compass seems to have special meaning to Richard, so if there are two, I'd think it would be less special. Richard is surprised when Locke busts out the compass. I don't have any alternative theory to explain it. Yet. It's just something that's curious.  :-\

Offline jugdish

  • Dharma VIP
  • *******
  • Posts: 16716
    • View Profile
Re: Physical causality paradox
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2009, 03:16:29 PM »
The watch is 11 years old so it had time to be manifactured before he came back and gave it to himself.

Offline Blitz Wing

  • Red Shirt
  • **
  • Posts: 236
    • View Profile
Re: Physical causality paradox
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2009, 05:00:09 PM »
I think in your watch example, there's only one way I can think of for it to be okay.

During the course of having the watch for 10 years, you fixed the watch....ie. Replaced parts, polished the metal and re-anodized (electro-plated) it. Or had it serviced by the manufacturer who did all that or maybe even switched the watch on you. If you never did any of that, and it's the exact same watch....yeah it would disintegrate over endless time cycles.

Offline ButtercupSaiyan

  • Background Extra
  • *
  • Posts: 40
    • View Profile
Re: Physical causality paradox
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2009, 12:13:31 PM »
Please stop clinging to the idea of time cycles.  Lost has implied there is only one "cycle" and we are witnessing it.  The compass would have only been given to Richard once.

Let's see how this is handled in a different form of media, where it is self-aware of the paradox but never explains it, leaving it as an element of mystery.

A similar paradox arises in the Infocom text adventure Trinity, where the goal of the game is to stop the H-bomb from being invented by going back in time and stopping it.  The device that allows time travel is never explained.  At the beginning, Kensington Gardens is irradiated by a nuclear bomb and the player steps through a portal that takes them to an alternate dimension, much like a Klein bottle.

The player will have been given an umbrella from an old woman before then and will later go back in time to give that same umbrella to the old woman when she was a little girl.  If the player ever realizes the mystery and opens up the umbrella, a message is engraved on the handle saying "All prams lead to Kensington Gardens." (A pram is a baby carrier).  It's an enduring paradox. 

Interestingly enough, the game is also about Free Will vs. Choice .... the message strongly implies that the player may not be successful in stopping it .... all strollers (humanity) will be led to nuclear bombs ...

The question the player is left with is, "Where did the umbrella come from?"  The strongest theory isó by the same device or element that allowed you to time travel in the first place.

Anyway, my point is, maybe the compass was generated by the Island, and may not exist as an ordinary physical object as we know it... thus, all talk of gears and winding and batteries become moot.  Much like a figurehead or a symbol, its importance lies it what it might be not what it is.

Thank you, I hope I didn't confuse you.  I am a big science-fiction fan and have read and played more works dealing with time travel than I care to think about...
« Last Edit: May 03, 2009, 12:24:25 PM by ButtercupSaiyan »

Offline ukslim

  • Red Shirt
  • **
  • Posts: 122
    • View Profile
Re: Physical causality paradox
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2009, 01:12:36 PM »
Now that I think I know what's going on, I'm about to venture a comment... lol! I hope there aren't two compasses. I know it would explain the How, and possibly dismiss this whole Paradox idea, but the compass seems to have special meaning to Richard, so if there are two, I'd think it would be less special.

It wouldn't really be two compasses. It would be one compass, with Richard owning it at two points in its lifetime, at the same time. Going back to me and my watch:
  • Aged 20, I buy a watch
  • Aged 21, I am visited by my 30 year old self, who gives me the same watch I already own. Now I have two watches, but they're the same watch.
  • Aged 30, I use a time machine to visit my 21 year old self, and give him the newer of the two instances of the watch

Richard is in the same situation as my 21 year old self, with two instances of the same object, one having existed longer than the other.

Imagine: maybe the older instance of the compass has a distinctive dent on it. One day Richard accidentally drops the newer instance and it lands on a pointy rock. It has gained the same dent as the older instance. Eventually every scratch on the older instance must be replicated on the newer instance...

Offline Optimus J

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 797
    • View Profile
Re: Physical causality paradox
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2009, 06:22:04 AM »
    • Before 1954, Richard optains the compass (e.g. buys it)
    • 1954, Locke gives Richard the compass to prove he's from the future. (Richard now has two compasses, one more battered than the other -- that's why he believes Locke)
    • 1961, Richard tests 5-year-old Locke with the compass (doesn't matter which one)
    • Some time further into the future, Richard meets Locke and gives him the newer compass, telling him to return it next time they meet (1954)
    For me looks more that Locke in the future witness their friends traveling through time, gets a future compass, gives to Richard and send him to save Ethan-shoot-Locke.
    Then in 1954, Richard receives the compass, 10 years after uses it in the test, and looses it, probably even destroyed at near more 10 years after, when he tries to contact Locke again, maybe at the same time frame of the incident.
    After the crash, Richards supports Locke while Ben tries to get rid of the adversary in the leadership of the others, until...
    Locke with his smokey-tamed-pet-Ben arrives at the temple, witness the time-traveling Sawyer-party, grabs a new compass and send Richard to save Ethan-shoot-Locked, and then....[/list]
    « Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 06:24:18 AM by Optimus J »

    Offline Writers_Strike

    • Survivor
    • ***
    • Posts: 865
      • View Profile
    Re: Physical causality paradox
    « Reply #8 on: May 06, 2009, 08:31:19 AM »
    Please stop clinging to the idea of time cycles.  Lost has implied there is only one "cycle" and we are witnessing it.  The compass would have only been given to Richard once.

    Lets pretend I have a digital stop watch with an unlimited power supply (mini nuke reactor ;) ) that continues to count out the years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds and can not be reset. The years place has 6 digits so it can count to 999,999 years before rolling back to 000,000 years.

    When I am 20 years old, I am visited by my 30 year old self, who gives me the watch
    I keep the watch by my side for 10 years, never losing sight of it
    When I am 30 years old, I use a time machine to visit my 20 year old self, and give him the watch.

    since the watch has experienced the 10 years it will read 10 years older then when I received it when I was 20. My past self will have it for 10 years and give it back to his younger self with an extra 10 years on the watch.

    Since I am in this loop of giving myself a watch (what happened, happened) The watch will continue to age and accumulate time until the thing disintegrates and then I can move out of the loop. If I do not have a watch to give myself, then I never received it. No reason for me time travel.

    Offline tonysee200x

    • Red Shirt
    • **
    • Posts: 328
      • View Profile
    Re: Physical causality paradox
    « Reply #9 on: May 06, 2009, 06:44:15 PM »
    Quote
    But a predestination paradox is not self contradictory. It's "A caused B, B caused A" meaning there was no root cause, so everything is neat but there's no root cause, which seems impossible.

    So is the famous question "what came first the chicken or the age" a predestination paradox? A/Chicken causes B/Egg, B/Egg causes A/chicken. No answer to which one came first, but they both exist and we know it is possible.




    Offline ukslim

    • Red Shirt
    • **
    • Posts: 122
      • View Profile
    Re: Physical causality paradox
    « Reply #10 on: May 06, 2009, 07:11:44 PM »
    Quote
    But a predestination paradox is not self contradictory. It's "A caused B, B caused A" meaning there was no root cause, so everything is neat but there's no root cause, which seems impossible.

    So is the famous question "what came first the chicken or the age" a predestination paradox? A/Chicken causes B/Egg, B/Egg causes A/chicken. No answer to which one came first, but they both exist and we know it is possible.


    Only if the same chicken lays the egg as hatches from it. Which usually isn't the case.

    Darwinists can answer that one easily anyway - the first chicken hatched from an egg laid by something that was only almost a chicken. It's up to you whether you define a "chicken egg" as an egg that a chicken laid, or an egg that a chicken hatches from (since most of the time if it hatches at all, it's both).



    « Last Edit: May 06, 2009, 08:08:41 PM by ukslim »

    Offline ukslim

    • Red Shirt
    • **
    • Posts: 122
      • View Profile
    Re: Physical causality paradox
    « Reply #11 on: May 06, 2009, 07:16:48 PM »
      Please stop clinging to the idea of time cycles.  Lost has implied there is only one "cycle" and we are witnessing it.  The compass would have only been given to Richard once.

      Lets pretend I have a digital stop watch with an unlimited power supply (mini nuke reactor ;) ) that continues to count out the years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds and can not be reset. The years place has 6 digits so it can count to 999,999 years before rolling back to 000,000 years.

      When I am 20 years old, I am visited by my 30 year old self, who gives me the watch
      I keep the watch by my side for 10 years, never losing sight of it
      When I am 30 years old, I use a time machine to visit my 20 year old self, and give him the watch.

      since the watch has experienced the 10 years it will read 10 years older then when I received it when I was 20. My past self will have it for 10 years and give it back to his younger self with an extra 10 years on the watch.

      Since I am in this loop of giving myself a watch (what happened, happened) The watch will continue to age and accumulate time until the thing disintegrates and then I can move out of the loop. If I do not have a watch to give myself, then I never received it. No reason for me time travel.

      Which all adds up to mean that scenario cannot happen.
      • As we noted before, it means there's no point at which the watch could have been manufactured
      • What happened, happened - and what happened was that the 30 year old gave the 20 year old that displays a certain time. It cannot happen 'again' displaying a different time.

      You're left with two alternative views: either there are multiple alternate histories, or the laws of nature forbid this kind of scenario.
      [/list]