Time Travel

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“Please take your seats, and fasten your seatbelts,” the stewardess says, making the announcement in the usual polite, reassuring tone that seems to indicate that this would be another routine flight.

The seats, three across, also look familiar and comfortable, if a bit crowded. This is just an ordinary flight, like any other.

But it’s not. Because the destination isn’t Tel Aviv or New York or any other place on the globe. The destination isn’t a place at all — it’s a time.

That’s because the craft you’re in is not a jet plane; it’s a time machine.

The panel in front of you is different. Instead of a pull-down tray, there’s a touch screen, a kind you’ve never seen before.

“Please press ‘On,’” the stewardess says, and you do. A slight hum starts, and you can feel a vibration in the seat.

“Next, below that, you have two buttons marked P and F. P is for Past, F is for Future…”

Fun in the Future

Whether you or anybody else will ever go anywhere in a time machine, and if the experience will be anything like what we just described, we don’t know. (Some scientists think it’s possible. More on that later.)

But the many stories written about time travel can be divided into two categories: travel into the past and travel into the future. The main difference seems to be, that since we don’t know what’s in the future, we are free to imagine almost anything. But we know a lot about the past which poses some interesting problems.

The Time Machine

The most famous time-travel story is probably The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, written in 1895. It wasn’t the first time the idea appeared, but it was the first time to catch readers’ imagination in a big way, and it kicked off a new genre (type) of science fiction. The Time Machine is about a man who goes into the future using a “time machine” (a term Wells invented) and what happens to him there.

If you could travel in time, how far into the future would you dare go? Remember, the further you go, the more different life is likely to be from the present. Fifty years? A hundred? In Wells’s story, the traveler doesn’t stop for many, many years!

He goes a long way to get into a lot of trouble. He discovers a society of happy, carefree people who live on fruit and are nice to him. So far, so good. When he asks about the mysterious disappearances of their friends each night, they don’t answer him. Uh-oh…

It turns out that in the future he discovered, members of a group that live underground come out on the surface at night to kidnap the people above. The people he meets in the future are not free — they are being raised by ape creatures much like humans nowadays raise cows. The ape creatures steal his time machine, but after a battle, he finds it and manages to escape (just in time!).

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 755)

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