1716: Time Travel Thesis

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 11:09, 5 August 2016 by 162.158.214.149 (talk) (Explanation: Replace sexist word)
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Time Travel Thesis
'Hey, what are those futuristic goggles for, anyway?' 'Oh, this is just a broken Google Glass. It was 2010's night at the club.'
Title text: 'Hey, what are those futuristic goggles for, anyway?' 'Oh, this is just a broken Google Glass. It was 2010's night at the club.'

Explanation

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Cueball has apparently been reading about time travel (whether in a book or online, we are not told). He tells Megan about this, and Megan excitedly remarks that she did her college thesis on time travel, meaning she did a lot of learning and knows how to not have a bad problem that will make it so she will not go to 1812 today.

Cueball starts talking to her about time travel, trying to explain various facets about it to her, but Megan keeps trying to say that she already knows all of this (and likely much, much more) because she wrote her thesis all about this.

Suddenly, a Megan from the future uses time travel (likely adapted from the work in her thesis) to come back and tell Megan that this conversation doesn't go anywhere and isn't important, and so present Megan can leave and not waste her time anymore. Up till then, Megan was presumably relucatant to break off a conversation on the topic of time travel, since the conversation could potentially have improved.

The Title Text mentions Google Glass and also that it broke in 2010. This is another reference to the time traveling, as there were no Google Glasses available to the public in 2010 (not even now in 2016). So whoever broke the Glasses in 2010 has to be from a future where you can buy them and he/she had to travel back to 2010 to an presumably awesome Party where he/she broke them.

Transcript

[Cueball is facing Megan, talking to her.]

Cueball: I've been reading about time travel.
Megan:Cool! I did my thesis on time travel!

[Cueball is now gesturing toward Megan. An explosion of some sort is shown behind Megan, toward the bottom of the panel.]

Cueball: Nice! So you know about closed timelike curves?
Megan: Yup. Thesis.
Cueball: Apparently wormholes can use exotic matter to–
Megan: I know. Like I said–
Explosion: BZZZZT!

[Cueball and Megan both look right, toward the direction of the explosion. An alternate Megan, wearing a headset and a machine strapped to her back, faces them from the right.]

Alternate Megan: You can skip this conversation. It doesn't turn out to be important.
Megan: Oh, thank God.

[In the fourth panel, both Megans are absent. Cueball continues to stare at their former location. He does not speak.]


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Discussion

-BZZZZT!- You can skip this comic and discussion page. It doesn't turn out to be important. -- 172.68.59.18 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Any possibility that future Megan actually uses time travel to assist present Megan to exit? Plm-qaz snr (talk) 07:52, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

Yes for sure --Kynde (talk) 07:51, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

I don't feel like it's mainsplaining and I don't think not have a bad problem that will make it so she will not go to 1812 today. is relevant (maybe an joke, but nothing to do with the comic). 162.158.114.230 08:18, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

I have deleted that part. Someone deleted mansplaining before I started my edit, and then by the time I was ready there was edit conflicts and it was reentered. I have decided not to do anything about it. He may have a point. --Kynde (talk) 11:51, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

Did someone really decide mansplaining was the right word to use here? Not only is it entirely inappropriate, but it's not exactly a well-known term, so it's liable to confuse people. 162.158.142.147 08:28, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

Yeah. Cueball's just trying to have a conversation, not trying to act like he knows more than her. If anything, she's being rude by not letting him finish what he was saying. Sure, I know more about computers than my dad, but I let him tell me about his new discoveries. I'm a music major, so I know more about music than a lot of people, but I still let them talk. She not only keeps interrupting him, but goes back in time to avoid the "boring" conversation altogether--and says it all right in front of him. We're not supposed to think she's a decent [person], unlike when Randall stood up for people who happened to have not learned something. Trlkly (talk) 09:17, 5 August 2016 (UTC)
That's my general problem with the term "mansplaining" anyway. It just assumes malintent where there might be none and is really just an incredibly sexist term.--162.158.133.66 07:13, 8 August 2016 (UTC)
Well she does try to let him know that he do not have to ask if she knows it, just begin talking about it. It is annoying when people assume that just because they just read something no one else has read about it. And even worse if he doesn't understand that she has used years of he life studying the subject. And if he actually understand but continues that's just bad... --Kynde (talk) 11:51, 5 August 2016 (UTC)
I don't see why it has to be mansplaining - Cueball just learned about it and thinks its exciting, so he wants to tell others about it. And in most conversations between a noob and an expert, the noob usually needs a point reclarified (especially if the book they just read wasnt written by that expert.) FutureMegan knows this isnt the case though… 108.162.221.87 12:20, 5 August 2016 (UTC)
Shouldn't we include mansplaining as a possible interpretation though? Mansplaining actually has been added dictionary.com along with the "splain" suffix [1] Lots of comics have more than one interpretation, so I don't see why this one shouldn't be included especially since it is basically identical to the situation Solnit described in her original essay[2] about the phenomenon.172.68.59.9 21:11, 9 August 2016 (UTC)

I don't think the title text mentions a TimeTravel to 2010. Rather there was a party themed 2010 in the future (Like there are 90's and 80's themed parties nowadays) --162.158.83.198 10:41, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

Agree that has been corrected. No one know when the glasses broke but in that future no one probably uses them anymore. --Kynde (talk) 11:51, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

How did future Megan know that the conversation wasn't important if she didn't attend it in her past (in fact, no-one did or would)? A grandfather paradox. At best, she remembered to tell her past self, in which case it's still a bootstrap paradox (and an impressive feat of human memory, though Novikov self-consistency principle might hav helped her "randomly" remember). 141.101.95.99 10:57, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

Tried to add some more about that paradox and in general. --Kynde (talk) 11:51, 5 August 2016 (UTC)
I added a little bit explaining what I think is a way for the comic to not be a paradox. While it does seem like the grandfather paradox at first glance, so long as the cause interrupting the conversation is preserved in the effect of the interruption, there's no logical problem (at least, that I've been able to think of). So long as the Megan who didn't have the conversation knows that it doesn't go anywhere and travels back in time to tell her younger self and preserve the loop, it can be easily sustained. Marcus4742 (talk) 19:53, 5 August 2016 (UTC)
The true question is not whether there is an unsustainable time loop but rather if she has any evidence to say that conversation doesn't go anywhere with certainty, assuming that the time travel follows a closed time-like curve, as cueball talks about, then, (like marcus said) megan stops the conversation then goes back in time to stop the conversation because of the fact she stopped the conversation in the first place, not because she had any knowledge that the conversation was important or not. Alternatively, if the time travel is more of an infinite universe type with branching pathways, then future megan could know the conversation doesn't lead anywhere because she either had it or because closed time-like curves are not in effect. But we're probably over analyzing this. Lackadaisical (talk) 20:56, 5 August 2016 (UTC)
While she expresses relief at the conversation not going anywhere, what's to say she stops it? Her continuing the conversation regardless of whether it goes anywhere would I think be the simplest way to resolve/avoid this potential paradox. Tahg (talk) 22:27, 11 August 2016 (UTC)
Well the comic shows that she walks away from the conversation, so we know that the future-Megan achieved her goal to break of a conversation between her younger self (the present-Megan) and Cueball. By assuming that future-Megan has had this conversation, we also either assume 1) that she can either a) change the past (without changing herself in the future, which is a paradox), or b) that she travels between parallel universes. In the latter case she did have the conversation (and keeps having had it) in the universe she came from, and has now just stopped the rest of this conversation happening in a parallel universe, that had run on the same tracks up to this moment in time; or 2) Alternatively traveling in time does not change anything, which would imply that she never finished the conversation, since future-Megan had this experience when she was present Megan. That means this conversation has always happened like shown in the comic, and future-Megan never had anymore of this conversation, because it was always broken by a time traveler. But yes I'm sure this is over-analyzing the comic regarding it's point and pun, but not regarding analyzing the possibility of time travel. A closed loop would still only make a real closed loop if this is the original way the conversation panned out interrupted with time travel, else it would not be closed! --Kynde (talk) 12:13, 15 August 2016 (UTC)

Alright, anyone who is willing to make the claim that "Google Glass will probably become popular in the 2010's" is living in a fantasy world. I've edited it to make the far more accurate claim that it could be either because Glass became popular or because Glass was an esoteric piece of hardware that lived (and died) in the 2010's. 172.68.34.122 15:21, 5 August 2016 (UTC)

Can someone include the explanation what a closed timelike curve is? --162.158.133.66 07:32, 8 August 2016 (UTC)