GateHouse – Science has already ruined a number of important things for me, such as my high school GPA and pretty much all of religion, but this past week they really took the taco: It was announced that I really, truly, once and for all, can’t travel back in time. Not even with a cheesy 1980s-looking car, not even if you have directions to a nice local wormhole, no matter what Huey Lewis and the News say.
Science, of course, is a total buzz-kill, which is why many people don’t pay attention to it when it says things like “Hey, cigarettes can kill you,” or “The planet is getting really hot,” or “You know that fiesta of diet pills that you’re snarfing down instead of eating the occasional carrot and going for a walk? Yeah, that doesn’t really work so well.” Frankly, if Science concerned itself more with concocting the perfect margarita and organizing better, more efficient singing contests between teenagers, they’d probably get a lot more people subscribing to its magazines.
Anyway, time travel: I think I can safely say that all of us, more or less, were holding out hope for that day when someone told you it was possible to go back and fix all those ghastly things you said in junior high, pick a different major, rethink the plan to invest in all those Mark McGwire baseball cards and, with a little luck, set up your parents at the Enchantment Under The Sea dance.
I’m not even all that old, and there have been all sorts of advancements in the last few years alone that have blown my mind to pieces. This includes the iPhone, those fizzy tablets you put in your shower to get rid of your cold, the iPhone, Oreo cookies with colored icing in the middle and the iPhone. (Note to Apple: this is called PRODUCT PLACEMENT. I really want an iPhone. Please contact my agent.)
(Second note to Apple: That last part was a joke. I write for a living, and, as such, cannot afford an agent. I just paid off the milk carton this computer is sitting on. Please send me an iPhone. Love, Jeff.)
Anyway, time travel (again): Why, you may be asking me, is it not possible for me, Joe Reader, to leap into a wormhole and stop myself from throwing up on Betty Sue right before my first kiss at the county fair (or whatever). Well, I’ll tell you. Actually, I won’t tell you, because the explanation is making the inside of my head melt quietly into a puddle of rubbery, sort of greenish goo. Listen, I’m not the dumbest guy in the world, but there is a LOT of talk in here about cosmic strings and different universes and “manifestations of space-time.”
I’m pretty sure that all the time I could have spent growing up learning about some of these terms went directly to memorizing the stats and personal information of my favorite professional wrestlers. So you could talk to me about string theory until the sheer frustration makes you want to weep with failure, and I’ll absorb exactly nothing, though I can tell you that the Junk Yard Dog’s intro music for most of the 1980s was “Grab Them Cakes.” (That faint smoky odor you may detect is my college lighting my diploma on fire.) Let’s just say this: I think cosmic strings have something to do with it, and that the idea of “punching a hole in space-time” is totally on my list of Things To Do Before I Die. I think I can do it. I’ve been working out.
But there is a little bit of good news in this otherwise depressing story: Though it may not be possible to travel into the past, it may be fully possible to travel into the future, which is where most of the cooler stuff is anyway. All you need to do is construct a spaceship that travels at the speed of light for an established length of time, and when you come back to Earth, you’ll have aged one year while the planet will have aged about a million years. Which would be great, except either by then the apes will be running everything, or global warming will have exterminated pretty much anything, except, of course cockroaches, and Huey Lewis and the News.