Doing research into my time braking world I was referred to Split Second by Douglas E. Richards. It turns out he conceived of the exact same machine that I did, however he handled the paradoxes differently, and uses a slightly different explanation involving “dark matter”, turning his machine into a fancy copying machine to make an evil baddie rich. But here is the explanation I am trying to describe in my world, which presents a language paradox that is the goal of this question. So this question is hoping to find technically correct language to describe the effect:
“So Aaron’s question is this: Say I decide that in an hour from now, I’m going to send my phone back in time an hour. The hour passes and I press the button, as planned. Because I did this, an hour earlier, a cell phone magically appears in front of my earlier self. To make this as easy as possible to picture, imagine the phone appears right next to the earlier version of itself. Cool, the me in the past thinks when the phone appears. I must have sent it back from the future like I was planning. Now I have two phones.”
Ok, so now we have a cell phone that has appeared because you will in the future send one back. But here is where it seems to leave science and enter magic:
Knight arched an eyebrow. “But now, what if the me in the past changes his mind? What if he now decides not to send it back, after all? Now what happens? Does the second phone disappear the moment he makes this decision, like a photo of Marty McFly and his siblings? Or does it stick around? And what if the hour passes and I really don’t send my phone back? Do I still have two phones? And if so, how is this possible? After all, in this version of reality, I never sent it back, so how is it still there?”
“Which would be the single timeline theory of time travel,” said Jenna. “The one in which this type of paradox is possible. However, if a version of the chronology protection conjecture were operating, the phone would never appear in the past in the first place, as long as the universe knew you were going to change your mind and not send it. Or, if it did appear, you would send it back after an hour passed. Nothing could prevent you from doing this, including changing your mind.” Knight shook his head in wonder. “I have to say your grasp of time travel theory is truly impressive.”
“So what’s the answer?” said Jenna, ignoring him. “What happens?”
“What happens is that you can change your mind,” said Knight. “And the second phone remains anyway, even if you never send it back.”
Now mine works a little bit differently but this paradox is still there, I need to contend with the vernacular. So here’s the chronology that I’m trying to put into intelligent terms:
t = 0:00 A time machine exists, or it will when you plan to use one.
t = 0:01 You “decide” you want to send your phone back in time.
t = 0:10 A phone appears next to you, it’s the same phone that is in your pocket. Not a copy - the same phone.
t = 2:30 You took a nap, got up and made a sandwich completely forgetting to send your phone back in time. Oh, shoot! You actually forgot to build the thing! But, in your pocket, two phones ring reminding you to send the phone back in time. Fair enough.
In the end, you have two phones by sheer force of “opinion” (because will is the wrong word). You never used a single milliwatt of electricity. You never even turned the time machine on. In fact, if you decided to blow the machine up before you even used it, you still have two phones.
The event is called “retro-causality” or “backward causation” on Wikipedia. But the bottom line is that an effect simply happened because it was thought about. There is no escaping the fact that this also fits the definition of supernatural: departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
The laws of nature, in any sane interpretation, do not allow things to exist “because you thought about someday using a time machine.”
To be clear, this is NOT the Stueckelberg interpretation of the positron as an electron moving backward in time as a negative-energy solution to the Dirac equation. In that quantum physics equation, the electron moves forward, becoming a positron moving backward. It’s not “the same phone.”
What sane scientific terminology exists, if any, which describes “the existence of something only because at one point in time you wanted it and somewhere, a time machine may exist to send it to you”, and what are the “copies” technically called?
To me, it’s “God” or “Magic.”
But “Retrocausality” is NOT the technically correct term, as that only applies to time-symmetric systems (which are mathematical models). This scenario is obviously not time-symmetric (the two versions are traveling the same direction in time, in different [x,y,z] coordinates, and do NOT converge to a causal event later).
Is there even a scientific word for the supernatural/paradoxical phenomenon described here? The phones are not “clones” or “twins,” they are the same. Is this an “entangled” pair?
Backdrop info (this content is not part of the question and does not change the validity of any answer)
What made me say “God” or “magic” is because this case is exactly what was written by three different people in the Bible - the miracle of the Feeding of The Multitude:
16Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
It occurred to me that if at any point in history at all Jesus (or his Father) had access to some form of backward time travel, this is exactly what would happen. He could look up, think about sending some fish back, and reality itself would create the fish and bread. The time machine doesn’t need to be anywhere nearby or even exist at that time. Hence, the phone is also a “miracle.”