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The Universe's Time Machine

April 12th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Ideas | #
Suppose some time in the far future, we figure out how to travel great distances across space in a short period of time.  We figure out how to move light years away from Earth in mere seconds, whether it be through interdimensional travel or otherwise.  Our telescopes become strong enough that we can capture light from ground level activity of a planet or star light years away.  Our virtual reality and hologram technology become sophisticated enough that we can take that light from galaxies far away and cast it around us to recreate and experience a scene.  

At some point, a stargazer realizes he is so far from Earth that the Earth he sees in the sky is actually many years in the past.  He begins to experiment with this, repositioning himself either farther or closer to the Earth by light years at a time to see the Earth either older or younger.  It is entertaining at first, especially with telescopes being strong enough to see things on the surface like you are actually on Earth.  With space travel being as advanced as it is, the stargazer can reposition himself at any angle to the Earth to see surface level activity like he is actually there instead of looking from top down.  

At first, it is just entertainment, just to observe random moments in the Earth and even society's past.  Eventually, however, the gazer comes across the exact years of his own past, even his childhood.  With technology advanced to the point of being able to actually capture individual light particles and copy or reposition them in 3D space via virtual reality, one can essentially relive moments in the past.  The stargazer becomes addicted to this.  It becomes like a time machine that the gazer can use just to travel to any point in his past or anyone else's.  

The gazer eventually realizes with despair, however, that no matter how real it looks and feels, no matter that he can keep rewinding time to play the same moment over and over again, no matter that each moment of all history is essentially immortal and out there somewhere in the universe, he realizes he cannot interact with it.  He can never change it.  It is still only light, light that will continue to travel indefinitely, farther and farther away, even if the moment that spawned it, and the life that it represented, is long gone.

And long after you might have passed away, every moment from your life will also still out there, somewhere in the universe, traveling at the speed of light, forever.

P.S. The flip side to this is there may be alien life out there who actually see Earth but assume there is no intelligent life here because they only see light from thousands of years ago.
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