Time Travel - the problem.

One major (but always unmentioned) problem with time travel as shown in Sci-Fi is that it doesn’t take into account spatial transposition. Example, if you only want to travel back in time one day, you also need to transpose yourself in space about 1.5 million miles - which is how far the earth travels in its orbit around the sun in 24 hours.

And the whole earth is spinning, the entire galaxy is rotating at some enormous speed (I feel a song coming on!). It would require … I don’t know. Red Dwarf briefly addressed this, by finding a Time Machine, and going back to the time of the Renaissance - and enjoyed ‘The heady atmosphere of 15th century deep space!’.

Has any writer made a serious stab at adressing how this problem could be solved?

Time travel is such a ridiculous topic in real-life terms, that ALL attempts to justify/solve it are necessarily half-hearted foolishness. Taking just a certain bit of it very seriously, only accidentally emphasizes how un-serious the writer really is. Serious writers who “do” time travel, know enough to just do the perfunctory hand-waving and get on with the story.

Missed edit window: Unless they intend to make some part of it into a plot point, of course.

I remember reading one story that used the ongoing expansion of the universe–everything was smaller in the past and bigger in the future.

Pfft! I time travel damn near every day!

I drink a 12-pack of beer on Tuesday, and next thing I know, its Noon on Wednesday. No machine or spatial correction needed.

Except that one time I woke up in the little ditch in front of the house.


Well, Doctor Who solved this by having the TARDIS capable of appearing at any point in time *and *space. It’s up to you to decide how “serious” that solution is.

Perhaps you’d be interested in a Time Travel Face-bag™? :stuck_out_tongue:

One of Spider Robinson’s Callahan books had this as a minor plot point. The time traveler ended up in space because she failed to account for it.

It’s been years since I read it and probably have some of the plot details wrong, but in Gregory Benford’s “Timescape” I recall there are scientists in the future trying to send a message back to the past on a tachyon beam and they had to account for the position of past Earth at the time in order to aim the beam correctly.

Yeah, but your position relative to what? Spatial position isn’t absolute.

If your time travel device puts you where the Earth was 1000 years ago, what is that relative to? The Sun? The center of the galaxy? R’lyeh?

Relative to where you are now?

I thought we just had a thread about this. If only I could time travel…

Why is it that big a deal? The earth moves around the sun, and WE don’t get left behind. Who is to say time travel doesn’t follow along?

If you have to calculate the changing positions of Earth when you time travel, then a time machine is also a star ship. I want to travel .00000001 seconds into the future, but end up on Vulcan.

Time and space are fused, so if you’re traveling in time, you’re traveling in space. It’s trivial to synch the space you’re currently in the one in the future or past.

But where is that? Again, there’s no such thing as absolute spatial position. For ordinary, everyday purposes, I talk and think about my position relative to my visible surroundings. I am currently, for all ordinary intents and purposes stationary. I’m also stationary relative to my common center of gravity with the Earth. I’m not stationary relative to the Sun, or to the center of the Milky Way, or to a star in the Andromeda Galaxy. So which frame of reference do I use?

If my chair were a time machine, and I used it to travel back in time one day, why would that put me in the position Earth was in relative to the Sun one day ago? Why wouldn’t I remain the same position relative to my desk? Or relative to my common center of gravity with the Earth? If my position did “move”, what would it be moving relative to?

The OP was not looking to ignite a discussion of the topic here (interesting though that may be), but wishing to know if any writer has addressed it. Some specifically have, but most just handwave it, or say that the Earths fields drag you along it.

I do recall a comic book where a Kryptonian scientist experimented with time travel. His destination was a hundred years in the future. (It did not go well.)

“Time Locker” by Lewis Padgett?

Because that’s how time machines work.

(bolding mine)They are?

I decided a long time ago that arguments about this topic miss the obvious: travelling through space is a ridiculously fundamental task compared to travelling through time. It’s like arguing “everyone makes a big fuss over the pitching skill of an ace Major League pitcher but no one ever points out that his brain autonomously keeps his metabolism on track!”