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Lessons from A Brief History of Time Travel

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Wanda Bertram & Gisella Bustillos introduce A Brief History of TIme Travel

Wanda Bertram is producing A Brief History of Time Travel, currently being Kickstarted. She has shared with us a few things she has learned while working on the project.

This year I took up the mantle of producer on the documentary A Brief History of Time Travel, which, for me, was the ultimate way to indulge the sci-fi nerd I’d been harboring inside for the last…ever. But so far I’ve been way outclassed by our subjects (and many fans) in the time-travel nerd department. If I thought I knew anything about time travel, I have been humbled! Here are some factoids and shower thoughts that blew my mind during the past few months.

  1. Virtually all famous (fictional) time travelers are male. While women really need more visibility in science fiction in general, female time travelers are especially unicorn-esque! Japan is currently winning in the equal-representation department, with films like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
  2. Stories about time travel to the future have been around WAY longer than stories about traveling to the past. Like, millennia longer – the oldest travel-to-the-future story dates back to the 8th century. Back then, time travel was always “done” at the behest of the gods. Today, it’s popularly portrayed as mechanical – controlled by regular people.
  3. Time travel is being tested in both physics and computer science labs. One of our subjects, an MIT computer scientice prodigy, works on data structures that will one day allow you to perform operations on data in the past. He had this to say: “If you think of the universe as just a giant computer implementing the rules of physics, you can think about how a computer might implement time travel, which relates to how the universe might implement time travel.” Brain still processing.
  4. Another form of travel to the future – cryogenic preservation – might be more viable than we think. Our crew visited and interviewed cryonics expert (and badass geek girl) Chana Phaedra, who claims that the successful resuscitation of small mammals could be possible within 10 years. How long ‘til it’s possible for humans? Would you do it?
  5. I wasn’t the first (or second or third) person to imagine a time travelers’ ball. Tim Schafer, game designer extraordinaire, shared his idea of throwing a present-day party that will go down in history in the future – attracting future time travelers to come back and visit. Later he followed up with us, lamenting, “Stephen Hawking stole my idea!” Turns out MIT did too, in 2005. But we all know Tim Schafer would throw a better party.

Because I couldn’t not share this with you: here’s the aforementioned game legend answering the question, “Where would you go if you could travel anywhere in your own life?” No other interviewee answered it quite like this. (Please support us on Kickstarter so we can show you more – only a week left in our campaign and we’re so close!)

Exclusive Snippet: Tim Schafer and the World’s Smartest Baby from A Brief History of Time Travel on Vimeo.


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