The Science, Fantasy, and Romance of Time Travel

Friday, March 08, 2013

Still from The Clock, by Christian Marclay Still from The Clock, by Christian Marclay (Todd-White Art Photography)

This weekend, much of the U.S. and the world will be springing ahead one hour, as Daylight Saving's Time begins. Ostensibly, setting our clocks ahead will save us some light. But in a less logical way, it will also allow us to travel ahead in some way -- to time travel. 

But is time travel really possible? 

It depends on who you ask. 

In a special hour dedicated entirely to the science, strangeness, and romance of time travel, the Takeaway talks with people from all walks of life to get a handle on time and travel and time travel. Among them: Danny Rubin, who wrote one of the most popular time travel movies of all time, "Groundhog Day;" Professor Michael Searles, an award winning historical re-enactor whose character "Cowboy Mike," teaches audiences about 19th century African American frontier life; Nancy Stearns Bercaw, a writer who lives with the reality of her own time running out; theoretical physicist Fred Alan Wolf; Peter Galison, physicist and science historian, and others. 

A special thanks to theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, antique watch dealer Catherine Theis, and all the Takeaway listeners who shared what historical time period they’d like to live in—and why.

We hope this hour will teach you a thing or two, and take you to places (and times) you aren't expecting.

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [28]

William from Melbourne Australia

I would go to Spain in 1936, warn the Spanish Republicans about the military revolt against the Spanish Republic.

Dec. 03 2013 12:19 AM
Nick Reseda

Antonio Racciano Productions
Time Traveler: The Story of James Kitchum (2013) a film by Antonio Racciano


Documentary on real life time traveler James Kitchum. A man with the ability to transcend time, documented in three centuries, 1800's, 1900's, 2000's and he never ages. Is this the real portrait of Dorian Gray? Is he a vampire? Has he discovered the fountain of youth? From years of investigation into the life of this extraordinary individual, you will discover a man with the ability to travel through time. James Kitchum is that Time Traveler and he is still around today, living in Hollywood, working in the movie industry. a film by Antonio Racciano.
Starring...Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Zoey Deschannel, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia, Susan Sontag, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, James Kitchum, Jennifer Garner, Orson Welles, Bette Davis, Ellen Barkin, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Robert Francis Kennedy, Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Julie Christie, Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, Wyatt Earp, John Sutter, James Marshall, Marisol Nichols, Ellen Degeneres, Charles Grodin, Gene Hackman, Elliott Gould, Goldie Hawn, Cameron Crowe, Donna Reed, Charles E Alden.

Mar. 20 2013 03:45 AM
Wilma from Manhattan

Odd I'm the only commenter referring to the Alzheimer's segment. While I'm sure every victim of the disease experiences it differently. my Mother's 15-year decline was punctuated by a loss of ability to follow the course of a 30-second television commercial (let alone a program) or keep a newspaper headline in mind long enough to understand what the article was about. These declines, among so many humiliating others, were clearly a source of piercing anguish to her, and they clearly humiliated her. Before she lost the ability to speak coherently, the phrases I most often heard her say to me (at that point an unknown presence) were "Help me! I don't know what to do!' Not so terrible? Nightmare, not dream, for her. Give me physical pain, but leave me my marbles.

Mar. 08 2013 11:09 PM
Paul from Austin

I just want to where I can find the song that was playing at the end. I know it is related to some Festival of Arts and Time Travel.

I would go back to the origins of the three religions that were born in what we now call the Middle East "Why Can't We Be Friends"

Mar. 08 2013 11:08 PM
Paul Taslimi from medford

It is quite possible that time does not exist in any real way. We understand the universe around us in terms of change. Our consciousness itself is a process and the only way we can measure change is by incorporating a ruler. Things get bigger or smaller or older or whatever but all this change must occur inside a container we call time. since we are possessed with this linearly directional embedded sense of the universe we automatically measure everything because we only understand within "time". It may be that if we manage to survive our own stupidity and evolve further, we could imagine a point in which our consciousness transcends its current linear limits and we could comprehend everything without the crutch of time. We will have no need for time travel then.

Mar. 08 2013 11:02 PM
oscar from ny

Ooohhh almost everyone is fascinated with time of my favorite scene in a movie is the beginning of Time cop with van damm..great...but I keep hearing Einsteins theory and yes the components are there but like lego pieces, one must assemble them according. In the bible "Ezekiel " and many books and movies the concept or format is close in portraying this matter. The universe has a a liquid for lack of a better word this liquid acts or can be view as a grid with forever density, the perspective or event horizon can be found in any point you choose, but the fabric has a sequence or a number, a final number and id where a super computer can calculate its radius, location,like the dna of that certain point, and can be traced...the angels or god can do for backwards time it can be found on parallel universes because everything that has happen is recorded in this AITHER or grid...the hard part is getting a machine that can see or trace the invisible fabric..I can go on forever...

Mar. 08 2013 04:00 PM

Christopher Columbus-- I'd go back and wipe him out or at least dissuade him from exploring. The different track the world would take as a result is just too interesting. The "discovery" of Earth's loveliest continent would still be inevitable of course but imagining the possibilities of what would be and what never would have been is so appealing.

Mar. 08 2013 03:52 PM
Christine from Princeton, NJ

I would go back in time to before my grandpa passed away (this past November 2012) and before he got really sick, so I could spend more time with him; he helped raise me along with my parents, and I miss him every day.

Mar. 08 2013 03:45 PM
Simon Tschinkel from New York City

Anyone who likes to explore the existential and philosophical impacts of time travel should read the novel "The Dechronization of Sam Macgruder" by George Gaylord Simpson. Perhaps the most thought provoking treatment of time travel I've ever come across. I highly recommend.

Mar. 08 2013 03:43 PM
Jay from Bayside, NY

As a colored person you kind of have a limited time that you would be able to travel to. So i would go to the future just to see how it all ends.

Mar. 08 2013 03:41 PM
leanne from Manhattan

I like to play a game with friends where we get to pick 3 places in time we would go (picking one is too hard!), and we'd be completely safe. I'd choose Paris in the 1920s, Shakespeare's England and Dinosaur Time!

Mar. 08 2013 03:39 PM
daniel from long island city

i would travel to the nearest happy hour

Mar. 08 2013 03:38 PM
David from New Jersey

There is likely more reality to time travel than most people believe.
Check out The U.S. government did time travel
experiments decades ago.

Mar. 08 2013 03:37 PM
antonio from baySide

I'd go prevent the JFK assassination and 911 if I could time travel to the past.

Mar. 08 2013 03:30 PM
Daniel Ortega from United States

I would go to the medieval times.

Mar. 08 2013 02:40 PM
Tom Carson from Beaverton, Oregon

I would go to the Free City of Danzig between the World Wars. It would be interesting to see how such good intentions got so badly skewed.

Mar. 08 2013 01:44 PM
Akhila from Portland, Or

I would go back to the times of Egypt and the Indus valley civilization and explain the wondrous and accelerate the speed of science. No time wasted on dark ages maybe we will have flying cars when I get back.

Mar. 08 2013 01:39 PM
Stacey Blanchard from Austin, TX

If I could go back in time, I would travel to that short period that I knew without a doubt that he loved me. Before the betrayal and the misunderstandings and the stress of the situation set in. It was the best moment of my life.

Mar. 08 2013 01:13 PM
Esteban Mendiolaza from Port Washington

Hi, I would travel to late 18th century Germany, to the apex of the Enlightenment, with the publication of Immanuel Kant's Three Critiques (i.e., 1781-1790), the wide reaction from German scholars and their dilemma in the wake of the French Revolution and the ensuing Great Terror. A fascinating era of scholarship and thought, the events across the Rhine tested their faith in the sovereignty of reason and left unanswered for posterity the questions of God, immorality, and providence.

Mar. 08 2013 12:21 PM
Bob Ontario from Myrtle Beach

I'd travel back to the year 1400 before European (white people in general) arrived in North America to despoil the continent. I'd love to see North America in all it's natural splendor and it's natural abundance of wildlife.

Mar. 08 2013 12:03 PM
Jen from Rhode Island

In my Tardis I'd go back to the 1770's and meet my ancestor who changed his name, rejected his family in Brussels, joined LaFayette and his volunteers in the American Revolution and created a new life for himself in Pennsylvania.

Mar. 08 2013 11:40 AM
Jennifer from Fort Lauderdale

What a pleasant surprise this morning to turn on The Take Away and hear John Hockenberry interviewing my old high school class mate, Danny Rubin!

Mar. 08 2013 10:45 AM
Rashad from Oklahoma City

I'd travel back to August 1, 2012, the day my father died. I'd choose to go with him to the mall instead of staying home with my mother; and maybe - just maybe - I'd be there to prevent the diabetic coma that killed him.

Mar. 08 2013 10:33 AM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

I am a Collectibles Dealer and so,I would go back to the Garden of Eden and snatch the apple that Eve bit. Before I sell it at auction, I would take a bite out of it.

Mar. 08 2013 10:17 AM
Bob from Palm Beach

I would go back to the time each town had a NOON CANNON to announce the actual location of the sun directly above the town center on Saturday. A magnification glass would focus the light on the cannon fuse and the explosion sound would cause everyone to stop and synchronize their long case clocks and lives, for the following week.

Mar. 08 2013 09:56 AM
Brad Knopf from Ferndale, Michigan

In Audrey Niffenegger's novel, The Time Traveler's Wife, time is portrayed as an unchangeable and eternal sequence of events. For the normal person, free will is an illusion, as "you" have already made all your choices, and you are powerless to change anything.

Mar. 08 2013 09:48 AM

I would literally become the Doctor! "Who?" You asked. Exactly!

Mar. 08 2013 09:32 AM
Onika from Ft. Lauderdale, FL

I would like to go one thousand years into the future,to see the evolution of race relations, how various religions have evolved, and their influence (or lack of influence) on nation-states. The general change of the human landscape would also be pretty cool!

Mar. 08 2013 09:18 AM

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