Ever wonder why Doctor Who (the smartest guy in the universe) always has a female companion, but he never has a relationship with her? That’s right, modesty. But let us explain. See, this whole thing really began when we accidentally discovered time travel. And, unlike Hot Tub Time Machine (or Doctor Who for that matter), this really happened.
One of the main arteries into Chicago from the north is Interstate 94. Recently, we were driving in to the office via Interstate 94 when we passed a traffic alert sign that overhangs the interstate. That morning the sign said travel time to the loop (downtown) was just 20 minutes. Since we were already going about 80 mph, we figured we’d cut a few minutes off that time. About ten minutes later, we passed under another traffic alert sign, which kindly informed us that the travel time to the loop was now 30 minutes. By driving for 10 minutes we actually added an extra 10 minutes to our driving time. The only logical explanation was time travel. Though our car appeared to be moving forwards in space, we were clearly travelling backwards in time, thus allowing us to experience even more outstanding interstate driving. Only in Chicago! Luckily, we were paying attention to this cosmic phenomenon as it was happening and we were able to use the extra time to enjoy a second bowl of Cheerios before leaving the house for work … again!
Normally, we would have simply accepted that time travel officially exists in the state of Illinois and left it at that. But we just spent the last week and half on a long vacation, enjoying the native culture and cuisine of the country of Texas. While there, we had plenty of time to have our mind blown by Jim Holt’s 2012 book, Why Does the World Exist? which brought us back to time travel and really got us thinking.
At least we think we had plenty of time. Now we’re not so sure…
Why Does the World Exists? is a philosophy book that attempts to answer this question: Why is there something instead of nothing? However, the first thing the book posits is that, to get to something, it helps to understand nothing. But true nothingness is almost impossible to fathom, let alone prove. Early in the book, Mr. Holt looks at the conundrum of understanding nothing by turning to numbers. After all, mathematicians will tell you that math is the universal language and they’ve been solving problems with math forever.
16-year-old Billy: “Sorry coach, I just can’t hit that three-point shot.”
Coach: “Just add 4 and divide by the cosine.”
Billy: “It worked! Now I never miss! Thanks Math!”
Look at the following equation provided by the book: 0=1-1 (or 0=1+(-1)). Notice that it’s not 1-1=0. Mr. Holt asks the reader to picture the equation “…not as 1 and -1 coming together to make 0, but 0 peeling apart … into 1 and -1.” You had nothing, now you have two somethings. Opposites that, theoretically, can cancel each other out, like matter and antimatter. The book goes on to quote Oxford chemist Peter Atkins, saying “Opposites are distinguished by their direction of travel in time.” So, it’s possible that the universe sprung forth due to the sudden existence of time.
Now this is the part were MojoFiction goes off-book. But, as far as we can tell, if time is travelling both backwards and forwards simultaneously from the starting point (with -1 denoting backwards time), in order to balance the equation and account for nothingness, then time must be circular because backwards time must be travelling to some point that already happened, otherwise, what is it travelling backwards to? Logically, the end point for backwards time must be the beginning, where it would run into forwards time. Only if forwards time is infinite can backwards time travel infinitely backwards. Assuming that forwards time is finite (that -1 and 1 can mesh back together and form 0), you would only have to wait for forwards time to come back to the beginning in order to end up in the past and effectively time travel (granted, you might be a little old). Unfortunately, there is a mathematical figure not discussed in the book that gets in the way of all this happiness: i.
In mathematics, i represents the imaginary number (yeah, THE imaginary number). The imaginary number is further defined as the square root of -1, or √-1. If i is the square root of -1, then i2 = -1. If -1 is made of purely of imaginary numbers, it stands to reason that -1 itself could be an imaginary number, meaning that backwards time, notated as -1, would be imaginary. If backwards time is imaginary, then forwards time either has no opposite and nothing does not exist, or forwards time is itself an illusion. Your choice, but whatever you believe, the point is, you have a grasp of nothingness.
How does this make men smarter, and what was that about Doctor Who?
Doctor Who doesn’t have relationships because his ego is big enough as it is and he can’t handle any more compliments. See, every woman in a relationship with a man at some point tells her man that he understands nothing. Men, this is the ultimate concession in the battle of the sexes. She is clearly respecting your transcendent depth of knowledge of the universe by, however unwittingly, admitting that she only understands something. You, on the other hand, understand a far greater truth: nothing. Really, is there anything manlier than that?
POST SCRIPT: The time-travelling interstate in Chicago, Interstate 94, is usually simply I-94. Perhaps it should be … i-94?
POST-POST SCRIPT: We don’t know anything about philosophy. But we read that book and it started the mind going and we just couldn’t stop ourselves. Assuming we were ever going in the first place…