The Paradoxes of Time Travel

In Ken Perszyk & Nicholas J. J. Smith (eds.), Public lecture at Te Papa (National Museum of New Zealand) (2001)
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Humans have long been fascinated by the idea of visiting the past and of seeing what the future will bring. Time travel has been one of the most popular themes of science fiction. Most people have seen the TV series ‘Dr Who’ or ‘Quantum Leap’ or ‘Star Trek’. You’ve probably seen one of the ‘Back to the Future’ or ‘Terminator’ movies, or ‘Twelve Monkeys’. Time travel narratives provide fascinating plots, which exercise our imaginations in ever so many ways. But is the idea of travelling forward and backward in time pure fantasy—or can it be done? To be sure, not all time travel scenarios are coherent. But we hope to persuade you that the most common objections to the very idea of time travel have no real force.



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Nicholas J. J. Smith
University of Sydney

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