Note : A science fiction story by my son , Atharva.
“Think of this paper as the timeline of the universe,” Jason spoke, holding out the piece of paper horizontally in front of the students. “Now, time is generally linear, and it is thought to be practically impossible to, as we say, go back in time. However, it is THEORETICALLY possible, that IF we manage to travel at the speed of light, we can overcome the space time barrier and be in a time period, in which our past selves would also exist.” Jason folded the paper. “ This would turn time into a loop. However, such time travel may be decades away, even though we here at CarbonTech have fully directed our attentions towards this issue.”
A student in the jam-packed CarbonTech auditorium raised his hand.
“But, Dr Ray, if we do manage to travel back in time, and do something that affects the future, would that not create a time paradox?”
“Ah…yes”, Jason said with a wry smile. “ You have just raised one of the most fundamental questions related to time since Einstein presented his Theory of General Relativity to the world. Everyone has a different explanation for this, and I have my own ridiculous one. My theory is, that when a person travels back in time and does something to affect the future,-“
He ripped the piece of paper in his hand into two.
“ An alternate reality is created. A parallel universe. Now, every person in the world has made choices at every point in his life. What if a parallel universe sprang into being every moment someone made a choice? There might exist an infinite number of universes, in which every possible outcome has occurred. Imagine it! In one universe, I might be a dishwasher, while in another, I could be the president of the country!”
For a few moments, there was complete silence in the auditorium. Then the door opened and a woman in a lab coat came running in.
“Dr Ray! There’s been an emergency at the particle accelerator!”
“What?!” Ray exclaimed. He spoke to the students, “Well, I have to leave now, you will be given the details of your next lecture.”
And he rushed out of the auditorium.
“What happened?” He asked the technician.
“ We don’t know for sure, but it seems like the accelerator has gone live much before we intended. It’s spewing massive amounts of energy and dark matter and we’re struggling to keep it contained.”
They had reached the accelerator room. Over the chaos, Ray shouted, “I’m going inside! I’ll see if I can find out what’s wrong!”
“Sir, that’s dangerous! We might just have created a black hole here!”
But Jason Ray had already stepped inside the particle accelerator.
A soon as he stepped inside, he felt as if he was being sucked into a vortex. The concept of gravity seemed meaningless, and as he spun around, he could see flashes of colour everywhere. And then it all stopped.
All Ray could see was himself floating in an unending white space. And then, suddenly something materialized in front of him, covering every visible inch of the space. He saw his birth, his whole life, and even his death, projected in front of him like a hologram. It was like a painting, with his life beginning at one end of the canvas and ending at the other. But on this canvas, he could see millions of other tiny projections too. He saw himself washing cars, begging on the street, working as a priest, and even poisoning a man.
And suddenly, he understood what was happening.
“I must have crossed the space time barrier!”,he thought. “Oh god, I’m in a four-dimensional space now, that’s why I can see time like the other three dimensions!” He looked again at the version of him washing cars. “A car-washer…..”, he smiled. “ Close..”
Everything around him exploded.
* * *
Four days later, Jason Ray lay on the hospital bed, unable to move. He knew his time was over. The explosion of the particle accelerator had thankfully been contained, but it had completely paralysed the brilliant physicist. “Funny I didn’t see my own death properly, “ thought Jason.
“But maybe this isn’t the end after all! Maybe I now begin my life in another universe….as a priest?”
He smiled. “Maybe there was life after death after all.”