Time travel is time research
Gleick began with H.G. Wells’s 1895 book The Time Machine, which created the idea of time travel.
It soon became a hugely popular genre that shows no sign of abating more than a century later.
“Science fiction is a way of working out ideas,” Gleick said.
Wells thought of himself as a futurist, and like many at the end of the 19th century he was riveted by the idea of progress, so his fictional traveler headed toward the far future.
Other authors soon explored travel to the past and countless paradoxes ranging from squashed butterflies that change later elections to advising one’s younger self.
Gleick invited audience members to query themselves: If you could travel in time, would you go to the future or to the past?
When exactly, and where exactly?
And what is your second choice?
(Try it, reader.)
“We’re still trying to figure out what time is,” Gleick said.
Time travel stories apparently help us.
The inventor of the time machine in Wells’s book explains archly that time is merely a fourth dimension.
Ten years later in 1905 Albert Einstein made that statement real.
In 1941 Jorge Luis Borges wrote the celebrated short story, “The Garden of Forking Paths.”
In 1955 physicist Hugh Everett introduced the quantum-based idea of forking universes, which itself has become a staple of science fiction.
“Time,” Richard Feynman once joked, “is what happens when nothing else happens.”
Gleick suggests, “Things change, and time is how we keep track.”
Virginia Woolf wrote, “What more terrifying revelation can there be than that it is the present moment?
That we survive the shock at all is only possible because the past shelters us on one side, the future on another.”
To answer the last question of the evening, about how his views about time changed during the course of writing Time Travel, Gleick said:
I thought I would conclude that the main thing to understand is: Enjoy the present.
Don’t waste your brain cells agonizing about lost opportunities or worrying about what the future will bring.
As I was working on the book I suddenly realized that that’s terrible advice.
A potted plant lives in the now.
The idea of the ‘long now’ embraces the past and the future and asks us to think about the whole stretch of time.
That’s what I think time travel is good for.
That’s what makes us human—the ability to live in the past and live in the future at the same time.
Former kid magicians Ira Glass and David Kestenbaum dive back into the world of magic.
Author and designer Jeremy Keith talks about his new book, Resilient Web Design, and why we keep making the same mistakes over and over.
Collin is joined by Marco Arment and Gus Mueller during WWDC to talk about conferences past and present.
Daniel and Manton discuss the new JSON Feed format and initial public reaction to it. They talk about Panic’s source code being stolen, and Daniel celebrates/laments his new MacBook Pro.
Download Audio (MP3, 58 minutes, 49 MB)
Many thanks to our sponsors this week:
Digimarc: The best mobile scanning solution today. The only solution for tomorrow.
Linode: Cloud Hosting for You.
Announcing JSON Feed – Official announcement of JSON Feed 1.0.
jsonfeed-wp – WordPress plugin supporting automated generation of JSON Feed compatible feeds.
Micro.blog – Manton’s microblogging service.
Brent on JSON Feed – Brent Simmons shares his thoughts on the announcement…
Manton on JSON Feed – … and Manton shares his.
The Case of the Stolen Source Code – Panic details the theft of their source code, subsequent ransom threat, and what they’re doing about it.
Join Joshua Garrity and guests Jon Salmon and Sean Bell, as they cover The Fullbright Company’s Gone Home.
Could Costa Rica’s green energy policy work in our utopian dream?
Is Estonia’s revolutionary digital policy a contender for a perfect country?
I’ve started a podcast.
Each episode, I find a smart person somewhere on the planet, and we talk about The Important Thing. I suspect we’re going to wander a bit, but wandering is usually the best part.
I’m just delighted to kick off the first episode1 with Tiff Arment where The Important Thing is pens2. In this first episode, we talk pen origin stories, we dive deep on fountain pens, and, uh, we talk video games, too.
Enjoy it now or download for later:
Wow. There are a lot of moving parts in setting up a podcast. This is a beta release and I continue to tinker with all the things. Special thanks to Marco Arment for saving my ass no less than three times during this process. I’m working on getting The Important Thing feed posted to all the usual places. If you’ve done such a thing within WordPress, please join the #theimportantthing channel on the Rands Leadership Slack and let’s chat. There’s a proper RSS feedback coming later today. ↩
Tiff provided this amazing shot of the pens we discuss. ↩
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