Mark Terry

Sunday, January 24, 2010

When In The World?

January 24, 2010
I'm a sucker for a good time travel novel. Currently I'm reading Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt. I find it very compelling, although I don't know if I would call it a great novel.

The premise is that it's 2018 and Shel Shelbourne's father, Michael, a physicist, has invented a couple time machines, which resemble Gameboys (or Q-pods, as he calls them). His father disappears and Shel, a sort of failed PhD physicist and his friend Dave, a professor of Greek and Latin and other languages, go looking for him through time. Sort of, because they quickly realize there's a whole lot of time and places to search and the only clues they really have is Michael's interest in certain historical events and people--Galileo, the March on Selma Alabama, Thomas Paine, etc.

Now, the limits of the machines are about 35,000 years in the past and 35,000 years in the future, although they very rarely go into the future for fear of what they might find out.

Anyway, I was thinking, if you had a time machine and could go anywhere in the past, what events would you want to see? And I'm not even going to put the 35,000 year limit on it, because, well, I'd sort of like to see dinosaurs, at least if I could do so without getting eaten.

As for the future, I haven't quite figured out why neither of these guys hasn't jumped into the future to identify some Lotto numbers or stock market jumps yet. I probably would.

So anyway, top 5 historical events you would visit?

1. Dinosaurs, somewhere back there.

2. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

3. Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel.

4. Anasazi at Chaco Canyon. (Maybe toward the end, when they all disappeared)

5. Continental Congress when they decide to declare independence.

I gotta tell you, it's hard to stop, and I only touched on some European things. What about you?


Blogger Stephen Parrish said...

The crucifixion.

Picket's charge.

The trial of Thomas More.

The bunker.

Sandra Bullock as a cheerleader.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

The crucifixion versus the resurrection? I thought about that, too, actually. One of the things I find interesting about this book is after the March on Selma, the characters decided to stay away from battles and places where they can get killed or shot or where people die. I can understand that, actually, although so many important pivotal points in history involve death.

Except Sandra Bullock as a cheerleader.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Five events? Hmmmm. Seeing dinosaurs would have to be high on my list too. And then I would have to say I would want, probably first on my list, to witness one of Christ's reported miracles, not because I am religious, but because I am not and I would love to see proof that I am wrong in my disbelief. Of course I would want to visit 6th century Constantinople having spent so long reading about it. I don't think I'd want to visit during a historic event though, most of them being rather dangerous. As a baseball fan I would want to see Babe Ruth hit a home run. Also, definitely I would want to witness mankind's first venture to another world -- the moon landing. Oh wait, hey, I did see that and don't tell me that's not one of the biggees of all time either.

As for the future, I'd love to come back at long intervals to see what's happened. The way things are going, I suspect one might be able to find anything human very far in the future.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

In the book they go and see the Babe's home run at one point.

I had to think about the Christ thing, because my first reaction was to want to see the crucifixion, then I thought, no, I'd rather see the tomb when it was empty, or, perhaps, like you said, one of the miracles, or even Jesus driving the merchants out of the temple.

I considered the moon landing, then I considered watching the first space shuttle launch, which I did see on TV when I was in high school chemistry class (the teacher brought a TV in to watch it), but it would be cool to watch it in person.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Seeing a big rocket take off in person would be cool. I only "saw" the moon landing on television which wasn't possible with older events. I guess listening to a radio broadcast of Babe Ruth hitting a homerun wouldn't be quite so exciting as being at the stadium. Or The Sermon on the Mount live on CNN? Or Fox. With the teabaggers picketing the socialist troublemaker?

6:46 PM  
Blogger Erica Orloff said...

1. Sermon on the Mount.

2. Continental Congress.

3. Dinosaurs.

4. Fall of the Berlin wall (I realize it's in my lifetime, but I wish I had been there)

5. A colloquium lecture by Paul Erdos at Purdue.

5:31 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Some overlap there. Yeah, I'd like to have been there to see the Berlin Wall come down, too; and I would like to have seen Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.

Not so sure the Erdos talk would do much for me, though.

One of the things that was fun in the book was they kept going back to the Library of Alexandria (and taking the librarian out to lunch).

7:09 AM  

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