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This is a stub from an overbroad question in the Sandbox
I have a device similar to what Douglas E. Richards' used in Split Second (I have never read his book) such that any object of less than 3 m3 size can be sent back up to 0.5 seconds in time. When it does, it exists before it leaves so for that split second there are two of them. Right now my math has a lot of slop, don’t get wrapped up too much in it.

To visualize this better, Imagine a Star Trek transporter which “beams” you 20 meters away except you materialize 0.05 seconds before you dematerialize (yes, that means you are at your destination only slightly before you say “energize”)

This is based on hard science so the parameters of operation are rigid and very limiting. Logistics and physics won’t allow it to scale up in this world.

  • You can’t choose the destination: Where you appear depends on the time and date. Why? The object does not actually move, but the earth does, so it appears wherever that point in space was a split second ago. It is teleported up to 50 meters away, in a direction and distance governed by whichever direction the Earth is moving at that time and how much time is jumped. A shorter time jump teleports you shorter distances. 500 μs ≈ 20 meters.

  • The device is very large and cumbersome, and uses lots of energy It is not mobile (but can be portable).

  • Very small golf-ball sized objects are normally teleported, but a person is possible.

  • The nascent technology is unpredictable and dangerous: Throughout the story the precise workings are never fully understood.

A Residential Time Pump:
I have already conceived of an inexhaustible (but small) power source using the inertia of the displaced object as a sort of “time pump”. A small volume of water is sent back a couple microseconds in a causal loop, causing water flow, which drives a small hydroelectric turbine, which powers the machine and provides surplus energy.

The setting:
Cars are all electric using removable power packs, time pump battery chargers are now commercially available at Wal-mart. They are the size of a refrigerator, very heavy, and require professional installation for precise calibration. Your neighbor just got one installed in his suburban garage for his car and home electricity. He’s a tinkerer. He takes it apart and modifies it. It can’t be removed from his garage - it’s precisely calibrated to that location. Fire it up in the wrong location or while moving, it will break.

One day curiosity overwhelms you and you peek into the garage window to see what he’s doing with his modified time pump.

Q: What did he clone with his modified time pump that shocked and terrified you?

Best answer is Something novel that can’t easily be done with other existing tech.. Like a split second prediction device, or doubling a catalyst for something.

Note I don't want the "inexhaustible power" to be the main theme because it's just too boring and "I made a time machine to charge batteries" isn't really a thing.

Note2 A bomb is the obvious choice but this is way to much work for a simple bomb.


How it works / Constraints
- The Geek Section:

The string theory formulas are not important for this question. The device focuses on a small region and cancels out the vibrations of the cosmic strings, simply superimposing adjacent strings out of phase creating a "flat" space. What this does is "anchor" that space to the Higgs Field (which is scalar and does not move in relative reference frames) for a fraction of a second.

The end result is that the region of space (and whatever is in it) stops flowing forward. It is as if the region is a boat on a river. When the vibration of the cosmic strings is cancelled out (by overlapping other strings 180-degrees out of phase), the boat gets "anchored" and stops moving. The river (time) however keeps moving forward around it. Logistically, the longer you hold the boat at anchor, the more strain is on the anchor line and the anchor lets go very quickly. At that point the boat begins moving with the water again. However, it is now BEHIND the current time. The effect is that the displaced space (and whatever is in it) comes into existence in the past - before it leaves. In the present

  • The object size matters: Shifting cosmic strings takes energy

  • The object is anchored in both space AND time - but the Earth moves. That means, because the Earth is spinning and traveling at several thousand miles per hour, the anchored space rejoins the time stream very far away from where it started (at the exact point in space which was there earlier).

  • The object briefly exists twice: It "enters existence" in the past, before you actually anchor it. Then, when the time overlaps the "original" finally disappears.

  • Momentum is conserved, which is what causes the anchor to break. When the object enters the timestream in the past, the energy accumulated while it was locked to the Higgs field rapidly dissipates - in the same vector it was originally moving. Envision a regenerative time-brake where the kinetic energy of whatever distance you traveled in the past second was released almost instantaneously. Obviously this energy is very directional.

Concieved implications / Paradoxes: There are horrific implications to this as essentially the "clone" which goes to the past can emerge inside a solid object if the timing is wrong, like Star Trek transporters. In this case, it would be quite horrible. You could literally watch yourself become transported into an object before you disappear. But weaponizing it can be a side arc for some entity who doesn't know how unpredictable it is. The weapon will fail horribly if they try.

Unlike Star Trek transporters, the device can't nicely determine where you start and the stuff near you ends. It's a bit messy, and a rough envelope of space is sent back. Like Terminator, but not the perfect sphere they used. This is why teleporting a volume of water is “mostly harmless”.

  • Volumes of matter trying to co-exist tend to adjust themselves explosively.

  • Volumes where matter is trying to not exist tend to adjust themselves implosively.

This technology avoids the Grandfather Paradox, it's still the current you that dies (not the past you). For that instant you are a clone.

A Causal Loop paradox is used because it is easy to shut down (remove power, no further iterations can occur). At the same time the Klinkhammer and Echeverria solution to the Polchinski's paradox can be the basis of the time pump: an object or volume of water repeatedly teleports backward to displace itself, accumulating momentum, thus creating flow. The challenge is you cannot control the teleportation direction. As such, the time pump piping has to be on a six axis gimbal so it can keep the water flowing in the right direction. Hence, the time pump is very large and bulky.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Oct 23 '19 at 19:25
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Just gonna try and throw an idea that isn't what you don't want.

How about recording data of past events where there was previously no observer? Sending back a data recording device one second so it could record from past events that were missed by the interested party. This could have forensic applications. But what is 1 second to forensic scientist? Not much, but the possible application gives reason for further research to possibly extend that time.

If you do decide to open a can of worms by allowing time travel for more than 1 second:

Perhaps if you could send back an object partially and sacrificing the part that wasn't sent back as energy to send it back further, you could record for a longer period of time. But of course you still need the platform in order to go back, so that could be one of your restrictions, along with how much fuel you can provide the device to go back with. This could become an incentive for a luxurious commodity to develop. Something along the lines of purchasing a personal wayback machine so that you can revisit previous moments of your life which you didn't prepare to record ahead of time.

At this point your time machine also becomes a message in a bottle.

I can also imagine the surprise of people when they install the device, and a camera suddenly appears in it because their future self used it. At this point you cant really stop them interacting with it, they could just move it elsewhere until the time arises that they need to check its contents.

Honestly after all that, I wouldn't allow traveling back more than 1 second, but those are good thought problems the characters could visit while trying to find a way to make it happen.

But a more serious application would be something like finding an absolute coordinate system and calculating the velocity of the platform hosting this spacetime frozen particle. It doesn't seem like much but it has huge implications if it can be done.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes knowing an absolute reference for the universe does have huge implications, but it’s still kinda “I made a time machine to charge batteries” level of interesting. I’m editing now because it’s closed, I’ll try not to invalidate your answer. $\endgroup$
    – Vogon Poet
    Oct 23 '19 at 10:28
  • $\begingroup$ don't restrict yourself on my account, I'll edit to make a note that my answer is no longer relevant if its necessary $\endgroup$
    – V. Sim
    Oct 24 '19 at 1:13

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