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Window of Opportunity (standard:science fiction, 13322 words)
Author: EutychusAdded: Aug 23 2020Views/Reads: 93/43Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Three associates discover that counter rotating gravity fields can open a window to other eras at the point where the fields overlap. Intending to observe the first Christmas, they find themselves thirty years too late and the homing device has felt the e

Time Travel Fundamentals 

If he was to be brutally honest about the entire matter, this story
began on a boat in the early 1960's.  From his point of view, however, 
it didn't really begin until college.  It was late one evening not long 
before midterms when most students had studied to the point of burnout 
and were in desperate need of diversion. 

Steve Alton, a graduate assistant who was leading the study group,
officially ended the session by ordering pizza and then steered 
conversation away from serious matters.  Before long, they were all 
involved in a rousing debate over who was the preeminent hard science 
fiction author of the recently passed century.  The nominees were 
quickly narrowed to Heinlein, Clarke, Niven and Asimov.  This 
discussion led directly into another, which dealt with some of the 
classic problems with the genre.  The biggest complaints had to do with 
the lack of details regarding how the future technologies functioned.  
It's one thing to claim that a ship can cover a light year in fifteen 
minutes and it's quite another to expect a roomful of physics majors 
who know better to accept such a proposition with ease. 

It wasn't long after the pizza arrived that the subject of inquiry
became time travel and all its inherent problems.  They ran through the 
standard problem of paradoxes with nothing really new to add to the 
body of knowledge.  There was an overview of the Grandfather Paradox 
(which occurs when you use a time machine to interrupt your own past 
making it impossible for you to be born or to build the time machine 
and use it in such a self-destructive fashion) because it's such a fun 
argument to have.  And then Steve pointed out that since the universe 
isn't nearly so stationary as it seems to be, time travel becomes 
infinitely more complicated. 

“Let's say there's a working time machine in this room.  If you want to
travel back to last night's study session and pick up a couple of 
points you might have missed the first time around, you may.  But look 
at what the time machine must be able to do.  In that twenty-four hour 
period, the earth has moved a million and a half miles in its orbit 
around the sun.  Add to that the facts that this room is moving sixteen 
hundred feet per second as the earth rotates, the solar system is in 
motion around the center of the galaxy, and that the galaxy is itself 
in motion.  Not only does the time machine have to be able to find this 
location in space a day ago, but if the trip is to seem instantaneous, 
it will have to get you there by exceeding the speed of light sixty 
some times over.  Since we are bound by that ‘light speed limit' thing, 
time travel becomes unlikely from yet another perspective.” 

Amid the nodding of heads accompanying Steve's analysis, Jerry was
developing a mild uneasiness.  He had a new dimension to explore and 
knew that it was likely to receive low to moderate enthusiasm at best.  
Still, no hypothesis should ever be rejected out of hand, regardless of 
its source of inspiration.  But because he was relatively young in his 
faith, he was still nervous about trying to sound like an expert in 
scientific theory that found its basis in scripture. 

“Am I correct in assuming that no one here is in choir?” Jerry asked,
fairly certain that no one was.  Because he was minoring in music, 
membership in choir was compulsory.  After heads stopped shaking in 
confirmation of what was already suspected, he continued.  “All this 
semester we've been working on a piece written by a fellow named 
Charles Ives sometime in the early portion of the twentieth century.  
This piece is based on the ninetieth psalm.  A line from the work has 
been eating at me for a while now.  This sounds like the perfect 
opportunity to air a point of view which is hardly orthodox from a 
scientific perspective, but which I feel has some bearing on our 

“The gospel according to St. Jerry?” Steve asked.  The title “saint”
that he had attributed to his friend  had come about not long after a 
number of encounters Jerry had during his sophomore year with “the 
Prophet”.  This woman, named Susan, was a person of great strength of 
character, and frequented the dining halls speaking to anyone willing 
to listen.  Her methods tended towards the conversational, getting to 
know the person she was talking to and determining an angle from which 
they could be approached with the Gospel.  He had found discussions 
with her to be quite interesting. 

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