The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Saturday, May 1, 2010

It's About Time

When I was in grammar school at The World Famous Thomas M. Balliet Elementary School I used to like this show called It's About Time. The Wikipedia explains:

It's About Time is an American fantasy-based comedy TV series that aired on CBS for one season of 26 episodes in 1966–1967. The series was created by Sherwood Schwartz, and used sets, props and incidental music from Schwartz's other television series in production at the time, Gilligan's Island.

It's About Time was virtually two different series aired under the same title. The first version of the series saw two astronauts, Mac (Frank Aletter) and Hector (Jack Mullaney), accidentally break the speed of light, and get thrown back in time to prehistoric days. There, they have to adjust to living with a cave family led by Shad (Imogene Coca) and Gronk (Joe E. Ross). (In the pilot Coca's name was credited as Shag; when CBS censors realized that term held another meaning in the youth culture they changed her name to 'Shad'.) Their children were 18-year-old Mlor (Mary Grace) and 12-year-old Breer (Pat Cardi). The chief of the tribe, Boss (Cliff Norton) and his right-hand man Clon (Mike Mazurki) were always suspicious of the astronauts.

Approximately halfway through the season, the show's lower-than expected ratings resulted in the producers suddenly retooling the series by having the astronauts repair their space capsule and return to 1967 with the cave family in tow. The remainder of the season was spent with Shadd, Gronk and their family adjusting to life in the 1960s, reacting to the unfamiliar surroundings, setting up home in 20th-century New York City. A typical episode had Gronk and Shadd learning to write their names and signing them for many salesmen who brought "presents", which had to be paid for. The astronauts could not convince their superiors at the Space Center that cave-people were living with them.

I suspect that if I saw an episode of the show today I would cringe at the corny humor, yet I did find myself recently contemplating whether time travel is an actual possibility. I often think about weird stuff like that as I traverse each day the woodland way into downtown Northampton. Of course Einstein famously said that if you exceeded the speed of light then time would appear to move backwards, an optical illusion created by the fact that you were catching up to "old" light that had already passed you. But it would be only an illusion, and a short-lived one too, since matter, particularly water-based biological matter like ourselves, would be quickly atomized into non-existence at such a speed.

So if Einstein's suggested means of time travel is completely impractical, is there some other way? It occurred to me that one way that time travel might be possible would be via computer simulation. Computers already are playing a major role in the way we learn about the past. By analyzing satellite pictures of the Earth, computers are able to recognize useful archaeological digging sites invisible from the ground and help to analyze the objects that are dug up there. In such ways we are learning much more about the past then we ever thought would be possible just a few decades ago.

But is it possible to use computers to learn about the past in more specific ways? Can we actually pick and choose historic subjects from the past, and be like those astronauts from the TV show who visit the Stone Age? Well, it seems to me that might be doable, if not now, then sometime in the future. That is because everything that exists is the result of a chains of cause and effect, each chain being both logical and dictated by the laws of physics. Therefore, if you knew all of the chains of cause and effect that created all the aspects of present day reality, it should be possible to reverse that chain by computer stimulation and "see" what things were like in the past. You wouldn't actually go into the past, but you could see what it must have been like based on what had to occur in order to create the present.

Pretty cool eh? For example if you could run the chains of cause and effect behind everything now existing at that famous plaza in Dallas back to 1963 then you could see if Lee Harvey Oswald really was the lone killer of John F. Kennedy. Indeed, such a technique would enable us to double-check all historical events. Perhaps it could even be fine tuned to the point of being able to check the past of anyone's life, our own or of any ancestor.

Of course this would require computer software of mind-boggling complexity, far beyond anything that is even remotely possible today. Besides, even before you could create such software you would need an incredibly indepth and wide ranging understanding of all of the chains of cause and effect involved, which is no small feat in itself. Yet it does not strike me as impossible that someday, as computer capabilities continue to evolve, that such an understanding of the interconnectedness of reality might make the past retraceable with great accuracy. If so, then this biblical quote on a lawn in Westfield may prove to be true:

Of course I doubt this is something that will ever happen in my lifetime. In the meantime, I may as well hangout at the Haymarket Cafe. Here is the giant mirror in the entranceway.

The front staircase.

In Westfield yesterday I ran into the legendary Doug Ariel, formerly of ol' Pine Point, who once ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Springfield. He was my late father's boyhood friend, and recently turned 81 years old.

I also ran into former Local Buzz writer Bill Peters at UMass. Since the Buzz went bust last year Bill has been living down South working on a freelance writing career. He's already made some sales!

There was a big fire the other night in Holyoke, as captured in this dramatic video by Rambling Van Dog:

For the full report click here.

A spin through downtown Greenfield with Tony Mateus.

A Deadhead's dashboard lament in downtown Hamp.


Anonymous said...

I miss Jerry too.

Guy Freeman said...

There is a sign like that Westfield one in Greenfield off of High Street.

Tim said...

Hey Tom, I had forgotten about "Its About Time." Your reminder brought up a typical schoolyard incident, where I watched as one of my friends sang to me, "Its about time, its about space, its about time to slap your face." And proceeded to do just that. I think I chased him around, trying to whack him back. Of course, I couldn't wait to try the new "joke" on some other unsuspecting kid. And yeah, I miss the Captain too. At least I hear him all the time.

Anonymous said...

Arizona rocks, it's the start of a great movement

Liberal said...

The theme song from it's about time is the same theme that the Red Sox use for their radio broadcasts.

Anonymous said...

Tom - Don't know if you got the word, but my dad passed. We'll be having services this Thursday. He was tickled pink that you gave him a holler out on your blog. It will be at Dickinson-Streeter.

Don Ariel