Saturday, 8 December 2012

Time Travel Paradox - Can A Woman Be Her Own Mother?

Hi Guys,

I was going to continue with the next installment in my Alien Spotters Handbook in this post, but a few days ago in one of the other fora I engage in someone came up with a brilliant time travel paradox riddle, and I felt the need to write about it. Besides the dark vans with the tinted windows outside my house every day, and the men in dark suits with the sunglasses, were becoming a pain! Maybe they'll back off now!

Anyway the riddle that was asked was can a woman be her own mother through the aid of time travel? And the scenario given was this: A woman meets a man, gets pregnant by him, travels back in time, gives birth, and leaves the baby on someone's doorstep. That baby then grows up to become the same woman, gets pregnant, and then repeats the entire cycle.

This is of course a variation on the bootstrap paradox, in that messing around with time only occurs to the woman because she has already messed with it. Thus lifting herself up by her own bootstraps as it were.

Now to look at this juicy little conundrum, I think it's important to first point out two obvious issues. First, at some point in time, in fact for a whole nine months, this woman is actually going to be carrying herself inside of her. The other issue is that this is an obvious case of incest, since this child is going to grow up to have sex with her father! These are both strange and ichy issues, but not really relevant.

What is relevant is as I've said in previous posts, the fact that this scenario does infact make that entire period from the woman's conception, through her time travel into the past as a foetus, until her getting pregnant in the present, completely determined. For this entire period there can be no free will, no random chance. Everything must happen through this period as it happened before.

The reason for this is simple, genetics. In every conception there must be an egg and a sperm joining together, and in every ejaculate of a man, there are millions upon millions of sperm. Now in order for this woman to be her own mother, genetically she must be identical. That means that exactly the same sperm and the same egg must join. The chances of that happening, even if the conception happens in exactly the same way, on the same day down to the second, are of course millions to one. And if a different sperm makes it through, then the new baby will not infact be the woman that is her mother, it will be the sister (or brother) of that woman.

As any change, even the slightest one could theoretically change which sperm is successful, there can be no variation.

So for that entire, say twenty five tears, every free will choice anyone made, could not have been truly free. Because on each repeat of the cycle through time, they would have to make exactly the same choice. Every random event during this time span, could never have been truly random. Because on every repeat of the cycle, the same results would have to follow.

Anyway, that's my take on the paradox.

I'll try to get my next post out before Christmas, once more returning to the Alien Spotters Handbook (Men in Black - I'm just kidding! - Oh and please stop going through my rubbish. I did think it was the papparazzi but they've denied it!)

But if I don't, and lets face it, I also want to get the next novella in the Wizard at Law series out by Christmas as well, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy holidays.

Cheers, Greg.

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