×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Time Travel Paradoxes of Back To the Future

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the one-for-emmett dept.

Movies 454

brumgrunt sent in a fun little piece to get your brain going on a cloudy monday morning. Despite countless viewings of BTTF I still never thought of a few of these. "Throughout Back To The Future Part III, there has to be two Deloreans in 1885. Also, why don't George and Lorraine recognize their son? Why doesn't the time machine disappear in the alternative 1985? These and more Back To The Future paradoxes explored..."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

454 comments

The one they always overlook (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011180)

If you travel back in time to the exact same spot, just in a different time, then (unless you're REALLY precise on the exact time of day and year), you'll most likely end up floating in space. People who make time travel movies don't seem to realize that the earth moves around its axis and around the sun. The spot I'm standing on right now will be vaccum in just a few minutes.

If Marty had went back to a different time of year without a space suit, Biff would have been the least of his worries.

Re:The one they always overlook (5, Insightful)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011206)

Even if you're precise on the exact time of day and year you'll still be in space. the solar system moves too!

Re:The one they always overlook (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011256)

I picture a lone Delorean, forever floating through empty space at 88 miles per hour.

Frame of Reference Problem (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011344)

I picture a lone Delorean, forever floating through empty space at 88 miles per hour.

I don't understand why you post first about a frame of reference problem and then joke about 88 miles per hour ... in reference to what? In the movies the DeLorean is traveling at 88 miles per hour as would be seen by an observer standing on Earth's surface. But to someone standing perfectly still in reference to the absolute center of the solar system -- as you seem to imply time machines are initially calibrated to -- then the velocity of the DeLorean would change with the velocity of the Earth around the Sun. Why are you only referencing the solar system and not galaxy or nebula or universe? So ... yeah, 88 miles per hour for those of us still on Earth many miles away. But your own post suffers the same problem that the movie suffers which is a frame of reference to the velocity and position.

Basically for new writers who write a science fiction time travel story you gotta make sure you mention briefly that you solved the orbit/rotation/surface problem and have calibrated your time machine to account for the ever changing topography of the Earth as well as its orbit and rotation ... Or maybe claim that you machine is anchored to Earth's gravity well to simplify things a bit more?

They were fun movies and nothing more. It might be fun to dissect them but if this is news, stand back in awe for my dissection of about a hundred other movies ...

Re:Frame of Reference Problem (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011394)

I don't understand why you post first about a frame of reference problem and then joke about 88 miles per hour ... in reference to what?

In reference to Einstein's dead body, of course.

Re:Frame of Reference Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011458)

ummm flux capacitor duh

Re:Frame of Reference Problem (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011552)

Or maybe claim that you machine is anchored to Earth's gravity well to simplify things a bit more?

The Earth's gravity well is also specific to a moment in time, as Earth changes structure internally and it constantly pulls in matter.

Re:Frame of Reference Problem (5, Insightful)

fat4eyes (1233086) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011700)

I don't even understand why this needs explanation. We all travel forward through time, and no-one needs an explanation of why we don't phase through the planet as time moves forward. Yet somehow traveling through time in a different direction (or at a different speed) will somehow cause you to end up in space. What needs asking is what does a time machine look like to the people in "normal" time when it is traveling backwards through time.

Re:Frame of Reference Problem (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011730)

wow.... someone needs to get out more...

Re:Frame of Reference Problem (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011780)

Or maybe claim that you machine is anchored to Earth's gravity well to simplify things a bit more?

Just imply that time and gravity are linked and your problems are over, the universe solves them for you! And since nobody has yet disproved this it's not even fantasy, although I certainly wouldn't call it hard sci-fi :)

Re:Frame of Reference Problem (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011908)

Yea, I'm thinking anchored in our gravity well is the answer. If time travel is possible it will most likely be through traveling through time forwards or backwards and not an instant jump. Assuming all things constant, traveling backwards in time should allow you to have a constant velocity that matches the earth, though you may want to slowly ramp up the speed of your travel as two quick of a change could send your flying.

Re:Frame of Reference Problem (2, Interesting)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011958)

Actually, this problem is moot. As it happens, the absolute frame of reference in this universe defaults to the "sleeping" "body" of Cthulhu, in the "city" of R'hyleh, "located" on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean here on Earth. So at most it's a difference of a few centimeters.

(Seriously, this always disturb me on some visceral level when works of fiction discuss a universial frame of reference like there was such a thing? The relative frame of reference of "the universe"? Aeaeaeaeafhtagn...)

Re:The one they always overlook (3, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011268)

We (my "main" circle of friends) discussed this very topic once after watching BttF 2. We concluded that anyone smart enough to create a working time machine (especially one that didn't turn its occupant into goop) was smart enough to do the mathematical calculations. ::shrug::

Re:The one they always overlook (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011318)

Yet not smart enough to *require* enough plutonium in the chamber for a return trip.

Re:The one they always overlook (3, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011356)

::shrug:: people are stupid in weird ways...a mother may be capable of raising a child to adulthood without getting it killed, yet will inevitably forget the kid in the car at least once.

Re:The one they always overlook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011794)

You may not want to make a return trip.

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011420)

Yeah. Another thing though - current accepted theory is the universe is expanding (at least the part we're in). So if you go back in time, I wonder much the size difference is and what impact it would have. I suppose if you go back millions of years it might be more significant than just a few centuries.

However the thing I really don't get is, why should there be time as a dimension itself?

Say you move an object from A to B. It's moved. Why should the universe store history/state so that you would be able to go back to that very point where the object was still at A?

Can anyone explain it to me in simple terms? I'm not a physicist.

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011598)

current accepted theory is the universe is expanding (at least the part we're in).

That's something else we've discussed: If the universe is expanding, what's it expanding over???

Re:The one they always overlook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011822)

Well normally when you think of universe you would think of.... everything, including space. A separate universe would have no contiguous points of space that meet with ours. In that way an "expanding universe" sounds awesome and kind of brain-melty for exactly the reason of "what is it expanding in?" What you need to get used to is the fact that physicists like to take the sweet descriptions of things and apply them to more mundane concepts.

Our "universe" is expanding in the way that the crap inside it is getting further apart, though our dimensions of space that you might want to include in your definition of "universe" are remaining the same and presumably infinite.

Re:The one they always overlook (4, Funny)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34012012)

Can anyone explain it to me in simple terms? I'm not a physicist.

Sure...wherever you go, there you are..

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

mrops (927562) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011546)

Or do some kind of a object lock on something that existed then and now, maybe the whole of earth, track it on the way back or forward through time.

Re:The one they always overlook (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011424)

No you see, when you travel through time you still remain trapped inside the same gravitational "depression" in space. You remain at the same coordinates in the universe, and therefore still materialize on earth, because you're moving with the gravitational well.

Otherwise if you could escape the gravitational well simply by advancing in time, you could jump have the NASA shuttle jump forward one day, and be in space, without needing to use boosters. That would violate conservation of energy and momentum.

(tongue firmly planted in cheek)

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011930)

But you still have the nasty problem of the changing geography and topography of Mother Earth. Not to mention the changing architecture - just one new building in the path of the DeLorean...

Re:The one they always overlook (2, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011518)

According to relativity, you never know if your absolute position is changing or not, or even if there is such a thing as absolute position.

So if you time travel, whose reference frame do you use to advance yourself in time while remaining static in position?

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

EricTheRed (5613) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011220)

It's not just the Earth thats moving around it's axis and then around the Sun but the entire Solar System is in orbit around the Galaxy and the galaxy is slowly moving as well... so yes unless you use some central point of reference you could end up anywhere, most likely in the vacuum of space or worse in some stellar core...

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

Criliric (879949) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011960)

I'd hardly call 1,440,000 km/h "slowly" (the 400 km/sec were traveling towards the Andromeda Galaxy) but I totally agree.
Now if the Delorean were also capable of space travel it would make traveling to far off places easier and more dangerous if your calculations are off by the slightest bit

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

Massacrifice (249974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011238)

you'll most likely end up floating in space.

You might also rematerialize inside earth's crust. I've heard this is good for acne, if you have any.

Re:The one they always overlook (2, Interesting)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011296)

If you travel back in time to the exact same spot, just in a different time, then (unless you're REALLY precise on the exact time of day and year), you'll most likely end up floating in space. People who make time travel movies don't seem to realize that the earth moves around its axis and around the sun. The spot I'm standing on right now will be vaccum in just a few minutes.

John Carpenter is the only director I can think of who ever complements his time travel explanation (albeit for a radio signal, but still) with the earth's revolution around the sun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_of_Darkness_(film) [wikipedia.org]

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011378)

Define "spot you're standing on" without reference to Earth or the sun. Are you saying that the ether exists and that spot in it will be occupied by a vacuum soon?

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

deodiaus2 (980169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011422)

And the solar system moves [considerably more] [tranlationally and rotationally] in the galaxy. And our galaxy moves in space!!!

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

blixel (158224) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011526)

>>People who make time travel movies don't seem to realize that the earth moves around its axis and around the sun. The spot I'm standing on right now will be vaccum in just a few minutes.

>And the solar system moves [considerably more] [tranlationally and rotationally] in the galaxy. And our galaxy moves in space!!!

And the "fabric" of space is expanding!

Anyone else have anything to add?

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011450)

Worse yet, suppose you traveled back in time but arrived inside the earth! One of the worst things in Wizardry was teleporting your party into a solid wall. That was instant death, no recovery. Talk about a real bummer!

This problem 'can' be sidestepped (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011480)

This particular problem can be sidestepped. Earth (and the Solar system) moves along geodesics in 4D-space (that's what the whole General Relativity is about), so we can just imagine that your time machine will also move along geodesics (essentially, retracing the path of the Earth and Solar System) when traveling in time.

Re:The one they always overlook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011498)

Well, obviously they just forgot to mention the calibration with some spot on earth, but it was there, built into the machine, otherwise he would have been completely lost with the galaxy twirling and the universe expanding.

Just because they didn't talk about it, doesn't mean it wasn't there.

Re:The one they always overlook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011508)

That's it! You've helped me understand why my previous time machine experiments have ended in failure. I thank you and my Chrononaut cat, Fluffy the 26th, thanks you!

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

dbet (1607261) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011536)

It depends on how you view the act of time travel. It's not unrealistic, if you've already conceded the possibility of time travel in the first place, to imagine you still adhering to the physics of the world you're in and spinning with the earth as it moves. You still might end up say, a few inches above or below the ground, or stuck half-way in a house or something.

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

Skrynkelberg (910137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011540)

Movement and position is always relative to something else. You cannot say that the time machine should "stand still" when traveling in time, because nothing in the universe "stands still", ever. So the machine must have some point of reference, and the simplest reference is simply the ground it is standing on.

Re:The one they always overlook (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011666)

The spot I'm standing on right now will be a vaccum in just a few minutes

That depends entirely on your coordinate system.
If you use the origin at the centre of the earth, y up, x towards the GMT line, then no it won't (I hope).
If you use the sun as the origin and pretty much any orientation, then yes it will.
If you use the centre of the universe, then god knows.

Bob

Re:Problem solved (1)

Rashdot (845549) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011802)

A time machine is supposed to travel in the time dimension only, and not in our 3 spatial dimensions.

time to go George Lucas on BTTF (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011246)

someone fire up their CGI skills and make it like it should be and rewrite a few lines of the script

Despite what who? (4, Funny)

UncHellMatt (790153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011248)

"Despite countless viewings of BTTF I still never through of a few of these. "
Did you the whole thing?

Of course there are two DeLoreans (5, Interesting)

rarel (697734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011270)

Of course there are two Deloreans. Doc's and Marty's. It's not a plot hole at all, the whole point is that they can't gut Doc's DeLorean for parts since it would create a paradox and prevent Marty from going back in time to 1885.

The cool thing is that at one point there are FOUR DeLoreans for a few hours in 1955, Marty I, Cowboy Doc, Marty 2 (with Doc) and Biff's.

Re:Of course there are two DeLoreans (3, Funny)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011396)

The cool thing is that at one point there are FOUR DeLoreans for a few hours in 1955, Marty I, Cowboy Doc, Marty 2 (with Doc) and Biff's.

Delorean actually made that many DMC-12s?

Re:Of course there are two DeLoreans (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011476)

I still remember their ad slogan: "Buy Delorean, Because You Can't Spend *All* Your Money On Cocaine.

Re:Of course there are two DeLoreans (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011646)

Of course there are two Deloreans. Doc's and Marty's. It's not a plot hole at all, the whole point is that they can't gut Doc's DeLorean for parts since it would create a paradox and prevent Marty from going back in time to 1885.

It's been a long time since I've seen the movies, but I'm pretty (75%) sure that they not only discuss this, but show Doc's DeLorean broken down in a mine or somewhere.

Re:Of course there are two DeLoreans (1)

GlyphedArchitect (1605113) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011702)

Actually, they could gut the thing for parts in 1885. All they'd have to do is include which parts get gutted in the letter about the time circuit control chip, which 1955 Doc could then replace (and which would get broken almost immediately afterwards. They'd just have to lie about why they were broken so Marty would remain none the wiser about his own future and break the time machine when coming back.

Re:Of course there are two DeLoreans (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011876)

The cool thing is that at one point there are FOUR DeLoreans for a few hours in 1955, Marty I, Cowboy Doc, Marty 2 (with Doc) and Biff's.

Marty 2 prefers to be called Marty A

The gasoline crunch (3, Interesting)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011282)

Doc probably could have MacGuyvered a distillation setup to make gasoline out of petroleum, but he quickly figured that it would take him much longer than it would take for him to get murdered and so other options were needed. He just didn't bore Marty with the details and called it impossible, adding the words "in what little time we have" in his own head.

Re:The gasoline crunch (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011410)

Doc probably could have MacGuyvered a distillation setup to make gasoline out of petroleum, but he quickly figured that it would take him much longer than it would take for him to get murdered and so other options were needed. He just didn't bore Marty with the details and called it impossible, adding the words "in what little time we have" in his own head.

Being such an amazing genius he should have realized that he could use Butanol [wikipedia.org] as a direct gasoline replacement. It's been produced by bacteria on an industrial scale since 1916 [wikipedia.org]! Doc fail.

Wikipedia hadn't been invented yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011752)

Wikipedia hadn't been invented yet.

Fail yourself!

Re:The gasoline crunch (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011522)

Completely negating the possibility of just hiding the Delorean and skipping town for a while . . . .

All they would have had to do is quietly LEAVE. Go somewhere else, and take the Delorean with them. It's 1885. Unless they're not being discrete it's darned hard to find someone who doesn't want to be found, and my guess is Beaufort, seemingly being the short attention-span type of guy, probably wouldn't have kept looking for too long before an "Ohh, shiny!" caught his eye and he went off chasing something else.

Re:Being discrete (4, Funny)

markhb (11721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011932)

I don't believe that there is any possible frame of reference that contains an intersection of "being discrete" and "take the Delorean."

Re:The gasoline crunch (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011724)

so other options were needed

Like going out to the DeLorean that Doc had stashed in the mine and siphoning some gas out of its tank?

Wow. Somebody has too much time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011298)

...on their hands and needs to get a life.

Obviously these would have been resolved in BTTF 4 (1)

Guido von Guido (548827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011300)

Had it ever been made.

Re:Obviously these would have been resolved in BTT (1)

cyber0ne (640846) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011560)

I thought about this a long time ago, actually. It always bugged the crap out of me that they spent much of the third movie driving to the point that the time machine is a terrible thing and must be destroyed before it tears the universe a new one. At the end of the movie this is accomplished splendidly, only to immediately find that Doc Brown has created a new one.

Instead of a fourth movie, I propose a short series. The story is that Marty realizes that Doc Brown must be stopped, so he teams up with the other paradox Martys and they use the various paradox leftover Deloreans to hunt Doc Brown through time. More paradoxes create more people and equipment to replenish what will inevitably be terrible losses in this war.

The series would be terrible, and I would _love_ it.

Words of Wisdom from UHF Television of the era (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011332)

Repeat to yourself: It's just a show, I should really just relax.

Jennifer seeing herself... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011336)

Regarding Jennifer's surprise at seeing herself, the older Jennifer is surprised because they see each other at the same time. Up to the point young Jennifer sees old Jennifer, old Jennifer can't remember seeing young Jennifer because it's not a done deal yet. Time is still in the process of being changed. The movie is pretty clear that changes to the timeline are not predetermined. Old Jennifer cannot remember seeing young Jennifer until it actually happens, thus being a surprise for both parties.

Re:Jennifer seeing herself... (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011484)

over the years i've noticed that faces aren't unique. i've met at least one person in my life who looked almost exactly like me and as far as i know we weren't related. even though a few people started wondering since the resemblance was so close. my wife is often compared to a minor hollywood actress.

and if you look closely at 500 year old paintings or statues of ancient greeks and romans they look just like people do today. one time when i was in italy i saw someone who looked just like Jay Leno. and looking at some groups in the US who like to breed only with each other, the whole community ends up looking alike.

so Jennifer seeing herself should be a reaction like who the fuck you are you in my house? not why is I from 20 years ago here?

Re:Jennifer seeing herself... (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011854)

Also it has to do with another point in the article. While Jennifer is in the future, there is no Jenifer in 1985 to grow old, another paradox. Although I strongly advise against trying to rationalize the plot of this amazingly entertaining trilogy, the way I think we should explain it keeping in the spirit of the movies is: The future is as it would be had the Delorean not traveled in time, at least for a while, since the events that would happen during the visit in the future had not happened yet. Let's not forget that there was a potential that Jennifer would not return, e.g. if she died in the future, her future self should disappear. Then, since we assume her actions are not predetermined, they could not possibly merge in the timeline until she actually returned to 1985. Her older self could not remember her, since it was not yet decided what she will do next and when/how she will return to '85 to grow old, so her grown old state can only be in some sort of "limbo", being in the state she would have been without the time travel until the travel was completed so that there could be some continuity in her existence...
I am not sure if I made any sense, which is why, as I said, I always advise against analyzing this or any time-travel movie. You simply can't have a solid plot going BACK in time... Going only forward OTOH... Can't wait for a Forever War movie version! ;)

http://www.shoeswholesale.us (-1, Offtopic)

beibi (1928336) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011342)

+input this URL: ===== http://www.shoeswholesale.us/ [shoeswholesale.us] ==== you can find many cheap and fashion stuff (jor dan s-h-o-e-s) === http://www.shoeswholesale.us/ [shoeswholesale.us] ==== ( lv h-a-n-d-b-a-g) (cha nel w-a-l-l-e-t) (D&G s-u-n-g-l-a-s-s-e-s) (ed har dy j-a-c-k-e-t) (UG G b-o-o-t) WE ACCEPT PYAPAL PAYMENT YOU MUST NOT MISS IT!!! welcome to : ===== http://uggbootsshop.hk/ [uggbootsshop.hk] ====== U-GG Nightfall Boots U-GG Coquette Slipper U-GG Sundance Limited Edition U-GG Classic Argyle Knit U-GG Bailey Button Boots U-GG Classic Cardy Boots U-GG Classic Tall Boots U-GG Classic Short Boots U-GG Ultra Tall Boots U-GG Classic Tall Metallic U-GG Sundance II Boots U-GG Ultra Short Boots U-GG Classic Mini Boots ===== http://uggbootsshop.hk/ [uggbootsshop.hk] ===== +++ http://uggbootsshop.hk/ [uggbootsshop.hk] +++ .. ./

these bloopers have been fixed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011368)

If you fire up your DVD or VHS tape, you'll see that someone went back and fixed them in the original master. They went through a lot of trouble, too.

The universal answer to these questions (5, Funny)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011372)

Can be found in a "Rocky and Bullwinkle" episode from long ago.

Boris Badenof has just cut the rope on a large treasure chest that dangles over a cliff. Of course he is standing on the treasure chest at the time so they both fall together. In typical comic form the treasure chest inverts as it falls, so Boris is underneath it as it crashes to the ground.

Natasha cries out, "Oh Boris are you okay?"

Boris says in response: "Don't worry, tis only cartoon".

Here's one that's always bugged me. (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011402)

In the first movie, Marty goes back in time and changes a bunch of things, so the world is different (albeit slightly) when he gets back. But what about inventing Rock & Roll and the song Johnny B Goode, and giving them to Chuck Berry via his cousin Marvin? That's something that stayed the same because he went back. So was he always supposed to go back or not?

Re:Here's one that's always bugged me. (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011610)

In the first movie, Marty goes back in time and changes a bunch of things, so the world is different (albeit slightly) when he gets back. But what about inventing Rock & Roll and the song Johnny B Goode, and giving them to Chuck Berry via his cousin Marvin? That's something that stayed the same because he went back. So was he always supposed to go back or not?

Well, there are a LOT of plot holes and time travel goofs.

But as for Johnny B Goode, by the time Marvin calls Martin and turns the phone towards the stage, McFly is already doing his 1980's guitar riff which the audience hated.

Granted, the Marvin (the cousin) probably remembers enough of it to relay to Chuck.

A hovering car is not travelling at 88Mph (1)

Evildonald (983517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011416)

What about the biggest hole? The fact that at the end of BTTF 2, when Doc is floating in the Delorean and struck by lightning, he is not travelling at 88 Mph! He travels backwards in time while just hovering. The speed is a myth!

Re:A hovering car is not travelling at 88Mph (1)

rarel (697734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011494)

I recall Doc explaining it in his letter as the lightning strike overloading the time circuits, activating them prematurely. We see them acting wonky several times before that happens too.

Re:A hovering car is not travelling at 88Mph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011628)

Watch the movie again and notice the fire trails in the sky which imply the lightning not only activated the time circuits but also caused hover drive to malfunction. Perhaps the real issue in this scene is that the sudden acceleration to 88 should have killed the doc. Hmmm.

Re:A hovering car is not travelling at 88Mph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011638)

Also, if you look at the fire trail the Delorean leaves behind after the lightning strike, it looks like a series of curls, which leads some to speculate that the lightning strike made the car spin on its axis at 88mph.

Re:A hovering car is not travelling at 88Mph (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011804)

Also, if you look at the fire trail the Delorean leaves behind after the lightning strike, it looks like a series of curls, which leads some to speculate that the lightning strike made the car spin on its axis at 88mph.

Which part was moving at 88mph? The axis or the periphery? If only one part of the car had to move at 88mph, why not just install a flywheel somewhere in the chassis and let the rest of the car remain perfectly still?

Maybe the car just had to do 88 [any unit of measurement] and in this case it was 88rpms.

Some of these are off (1)

PingSpike (947548) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011432)

Logically, Marty's parents would have had a fight about Lorraine having cheated on George with Calvin Klein well before Marty reached that stage in his life. There's no reason they suddenly would have had that fight on the exact day Marty came back from 1955.

Re:Some of these are off (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011558)

What I came here to say.

George would be convinced that she'd tracked down this Calvin Klein and had some out-of-wedlock with him.

Separate Time Lines (4, Interesting)

crndg (1322641) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011438)

There are many different ways time travel can be presented in fiction, with many different sets of "rules." In my opinion, BTTF actually sticks pretty close to its own rules, except when a) absolutely necessary for the story, or b) good for a laugh (see a).

The reason future versions of people don't know what's going on right now in their being-rewritten past is because they're in a different line on Doc's chalkboard. So when Doc in 1885 writes the note to Marty, he is from a future where (when?) he didn't know he was going to be killed by Mad Dog Tannen. So he couldn't possibly know that Marty was going to need to come back and rescue him, and would need gasoline to do it.

As for why Marty's parents don't recognize him, I would say they've had years to forget the details of what Calvin Klein looked like, and years of seeing their son every day as he grew up to look like someone they haven't seen in 30 years. Think of someone you know and see often. Now look at a picture of them from a long time ago. In your mind, they may seem like they haven't changed, but they have. It's like how I still picture my dad looking like he did a while back, when I saw him more often, and am now shocked to see that he has turned into Rush Limbaugh (not literally, but eerily similar-looking).

The one good question posed by this article is about whether Marty and Jennifer would exist in 2015, after they have just gone off in the time machine w/ Doc Brown in 1985. At that point, we might think they should be removed from any future time line until they return safely to 1985. I can only surmise that when traveling to the future, the Delorean travels along the future time line it is leaving, without regard for any changes it may introduce by doing so.

Perhaps a better overall question is: what happens to all the versions of people stuck on those time lines that are then cancelled out by Doc and Marty's travels? Do they zap out of existence? Do the time lines continue on, with fake-boob Lorraine married to Biff and all the other unpleasantness? Should we be happy that everything worked out for "our" Marty, because he's the only character who is the same person we met at the beginning of the first movie?

Re:Separate Time Lines (1)

rarel (697734) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011606)

The one good question posed by this article is about whether Marty and Jennifer would exist in 2015, after they have just gone off in the time machine w/ Doc Brown in 1985. At that point, we might think they should be removed from any future time line until they return safely to 1985. I can only surmise that when traveling to the future, the Delorean travels along the future time line it is leaving, without regard for any changes it may introduce by doing so.

The author fails to realize one key point, the fact that Marty and Jennifer returned afterwards. If Doc had wanted a more dramatic experiment, he would have sent Einstein back in time after the first time transition. It would have been the same as BTTF2, only with a dog and spanning a minute, instead of our heroes and 30 years.

It would also have been one hell of a shocker for Marty and Doc to see Einstein appear before it even leaves with the clocks marking two minutes more than it should.

what does this do for the deLorean sales figures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011444)

will the wiki be adapted on sales figures to reflect this decrepancy? :-)

Gambling wouldn't pay (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011490)

There's no guarantee that the scores in the book would hold up if the timeline was altered. You all saw what happened in the Bronco's game on "Hot Tub Time Machine", right? Biff would probably still end up a broke loser, because the chaos of the universe would alter people's actions in small ways that would eventually cause huge changes in outcomes.

Re:Gambling wouldn't pay (2, Insightful)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011788)

From what I remember from BTTF II Biff had made most of his fortune making big bets on upsets for just the first few years, then started rolling his fortune into his casino. That's why he had the Sports Almanac shrink wrapped in a safe in 1985, even though it contained sports scores through 2001.

2 Pines Mall/Lone Pine Mall (3, Informative)

Knightman (142928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011496)

It's quite funny how many paradoxes there are in BTTF, and still they managed to put in some truly obscure consistency: http://www.thevrabec.com/2010/07/12/back-to-the-future-you-certainly-havent-noticed-this/ [thevrabec.com]

Re:2 Pines Mall/Lone Pine Mall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011718)

This was like the first thing I noticed when I watched this when I was fucking seven. You guys are all bums.

Re:2 Pines Mall/Lone Pine Mall (0, Troll)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011918)

Er... you mean you DIDN'T notice that? I thought it was one of the more obvious things, put in to see if the audience was awake.

In fact, last month I showed my gf these films for the FIRST TIME EVER (she's authentic rural-Italian, and their cinema is wildly different to UK/US cinema so although they "know of" our movies, they have rarely actually gone to see them). She spotted that straight away, no hint of hesitation. In fact, just before any big "revelation" she was there pointing it out as the characters were about to introduce it into the main plot. Not to mention the various paradoxes here, she was working out where/how the movie had to go before it got there.

And she spotted the actress change for Jennifer. Most people don't unless they watch them one after the other.

The "lone pines" thing? Please, I would worry about how you keep track of ANY movie if you didn't spot that. You're like my mother, who can't watch Sliding Doors without getting confused.

Re:2 Pines Mall/Lone Pine Mall (1)

GizmoToy (450886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011948)

Was this not an obvious gag? These guys seem genuinely surprised to have discovered this just a few months ago, claiming "you certainly haven't noticed this." I figured most people had picked up on the "You killed my pine" joke years and years ago.

I see mentions of it on the internet way back into 2000, and it was already regarded as old new then. Yikes.

Still, it was a clever joke.

wait wait wait! (4, Funny)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011514)

You mean to tell me that in the movie about the time travelling, flying delorean, that runs variously on a fusion engine and stolen libyan plutonium, that there's something unrealistic about the plot of that movie? NOOOO!
haha.

Metaparadox (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011776)

Time travel paradoxea worked different in the 1st one (you vanish from photos, or you cant touch guitar) from the second (alternate realities, universe exploding) and the third (marty still know the name of the teacher, the tombstone picture)

To paraphrase Joel (0, Redundant)

Squeebee (719115) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011806)

If you're wondering about time machines, and other science facts, then repeat to yourself "it's just a show, I should really just relax!"

Quantum (1)

yerxa (107176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011842)

At a quantum level the entire scenario is highly improbable and given the scale and expanse of the timelines in question no amount of space or storage on slashdot.org would likely contain a text representation of the incredibly low probability. Thus I will likely fail to achieve "suspension of disbelief" the next time I view any of the films given this obvious and thoroughly proven principle of quantum physics. Shitty writing... clearly... no real context or plausible basis for the storyline...

Time travel can create paradoxes (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#34011928)

Science Fiction authors have known for a long time that time travel can create paradoxes. There are many better efforts than the BTTF series however. (Of course BTTF was never intended as 'serious' science fiction. Even Star Trek has done a better job.

Doc Brown is worse than Biff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34011982)

The ending of BTTF 1 has always bothered me. Doc has a time machine. He can choose any day of Marty's life to pick him up to go fix the future. You'd think he could at least let Marty go to the lake and get laid before the next hell ride through time, but he gives him like 10 minutes to enjoy the good version of his life. Also, after harping on the whole "sanctity of the space-time continuum" for the entire movie what does Doc do when he gets his time machine back? Immediately goes around and starts screwing up the space-time continuum. Hypocrite.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...