10
$\begingroup$

There is now a device which one can use to store time. It is small and inconspicuous, but takes some setting up to use (explained more later). Essentially, it will temporarily remove a region of space from space-time. Once that region of space is returned (but not before), your device has stored the "time" for that amount of space. A device can only store or be activated on one region at a time, but not both.

For example, if you had removed a cube of space that contained your house while you were at work for 8 hours and then returned it when getting home, you could activate the device to gain an extra 8 hours of free time for your entire house. While within the house, the outside world would appear to be stopped.

However, those who really want to take advantage of the device could also store their whole house, and after getting home, activate it on a single room — which in this example will take up 1/10 of the previously stored area — which means they could have it for (8 hours × 10) = 80 hours!


  • Setting up the device requires "tracing" the area you want to remove or activate on with the device. There is a volume limit of 10 meters cubed (1000 m³).

  • A device itself cannot be removed from time. The device attempting to do the removing will just give an error beep and reset (meaning the area has to be retraced).

  • Anything except for the device itself can be removed from time. For objects being removed, time does not pass.

  • When returning a stored area, it must be returned to the space it was taken from. But, the stored time you get can be used on any area (after tracing).

  • Removed areas of space are not there. The adjacent regions of space are connected instead. This means you could remove an area 10 meters long, take a single step across where that area used to be, and restore it — and then you'd have moved an extra 10 meters. If a person were standing right on that dividing space and it was returned, they would be split in half — with 10 meters between the halves.

    ---{|||||||}--- If the {||} is where space is removed, it would instead look like ------

  • People (and other objects) still age when activating the device for "extra time". This means someone could take their baby child home, activate the device and live through 5 years (if they had that much saved up), and then emerge the next "real" day with a 5 year old.

  • Assume this device is somewhat expensive, but very common for first-world countries (Let's say about $500 USD in today's monetary value)

  • Devices do not last forever. When breaking or expiring, nothing catastrophic happens — any stored region of space is returned and, seemingly as far as we know, the time that would be stored is just lost.


With this device, as a society, some people choose to age themselves for extra spare time. Others don't. And still others have a trusted individual remove them from time so they are brought farther into the future.

Other than birthdate no longer being a reliable way to tell "age", What major difficulties would societies face because of this new invention?

Answers should be judged by the degree of difficulty the society would face and the likelihood of the challenge emerging.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I think the idea you could get everyone on board with implanting clocks in themselves is a bit silly as is the idea that no-one would figure out how to tamper with them. I think no knowing anyone's subjective age for sure will just have to be one of the problems people have to deal with in this world. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Jul 1 '15 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ "---{|||||||}--- If the {||} is where space is removed, it would instead look like ------", @DoubleDouble hey just wondering, don't you think this will have a global effect? 10 meters of space/land area will be removed from Earth. What will the device do to suffice the missing 10m while it was stored? Will the land stretch extra 10m somewhere just to fill the missing area stored by the device? Or will it create a void in both end of those dashes (------)? $\endgroup$ – Pocoyo Jul 6 '15 at 6:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Pocoyo space would stretch $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Jul 6 '15 at 15:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "same space"? The Earth has moved. Techtonic plates move around the Earth. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 1 '16 at 14:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ As users of the device, it works as you would expect. Your house gets restored inbetween your neighbors' houses rather than the absolute position in space, before the movement of the earth, solar system, etc. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Aug 2 '16 at 16:03
11
$\begingroup$

Military Use: People would preserve huge swaths of land no-one was using in order to get huge amounts of stored up time and store perishables there as well to increase profit. One of the most obvious things to do with this technology is do large amounts of manufacturing in a incredibly short time, though manufacturing done this way would be more expensive however. You could also remove a area filled with troops from time and then return it for a ambush that seems to come out of nowhere.

Escape: Given the relatively cheap cost of $500 nearly any wanted fugitive would consider being removed from time. As for being returned well it seems like people would devise models of the machine with timers so you wouldn't have to rely on someone else to return you to time. Once the device becomes mainstream police might have to watch out for fugitives indefinitely.

Space Removal: Given that the area removed from time disappears connecting the two areas previously on either side of it, the government might monitor satellites to keep track of any missing areas. People would also use this device purposely to shorten travel routes by using lots of these devices on a long strip of land. You could theoretically effectively teleport from New York to London. While these tracks might be quite costly taking $500 per area of land covered by one device. Within cities this technology could be used to create teleportation routes which might pass underground or through the sky.

Time Travelers: After the device becomes mainstream people will have to expect a stream of people from the past from then onward. The farther they had "jumped" the less useful their skills are in the new world. I would also expect most people on their deathbed to try to use one of these devices hoping either for their descendants to bring them back when they can be cured or hoping the necessary technologies develop by the time they set the device to "unfreeze" them at.

"Time Pockets": You don't mention much about how the area you're in works when it is removed from time using saved up time.

The utility of these time pocket would be somewhat limited. Since they are closed systems air would be depleted of oxygen in the time pocket and heat would build up in this closed system. However given their price and novelty most people would get one and many people would die by using them irresponsibly thus their would be PSA's about using the devices responsibly and always bringing oxygen and CO₂ scrubber or whatnot. The heat buildup problems would mean you can't make anything like a person spend to much time out of time.

Necessary Supplies: After the devise became mainstream, small generators (possibly of the new free energy kind), as well as breathing equipment would become in demand; however, this couldn't solve the problem faced by heat buildup in the confined area. People might find dry ice and liquid nitrogen in high demand, since they can cool the time pocket unlike refrigerators which just make heat. People might also use chemicals that undergo endothermic reactions to cool the time pocket. Still no complex living things could spend too much time in a time pocket, thus the example of spending 5 years in one is right out. People would also not need to use their devices to store up that much time (though they probably would anyway to save money) because their would be companies who had been storing up time since the technology became mainstream.

Age: Even given you can't spend too long outside of time people would still use the devices extensively, maybe for a while before it got too hot in the time pocket then returning to time letting it air out a few minutes then exiting time again. One result of this is that lots of people would be older than they should. However others would be much younger since they skipped the intervening time. Problems with ascertaining someones age would be fundamentally unresolvable.

Technology: Technology might advance somewhat faster with scientists working for long periods of time outside normal time. Media might also be produced in larger quantity, and due to competition and increased time to work on it, would increase in quality. People would also make supercomputers designed to fit in the time pockets and put off less/tolerate heat so they could let them run for years. This would effectively increase computing power available for science substantially. Having huge amounts of free energy from the new power plants (see below) would also make many scientific endeavors cheaper and make high energy science like new supercharged supercolliders feasible.

Quality of Life: In countries where everyone could afford them people might become less stressed since the devices would allow them to have more subjective free-time. Famine would also decrease since people could use devices, which they wanted to use to get stored time, and put perishable items in there until they wanted to use the stored time. People could also use teleportation tunnels as detailed previously to connect hot areas with cold upper atmosphere air (this would create a massive suction force due to pressure difference), or connect a nearby water source to where you need it. The new free energy plants could also be used to desalinate seawater (which could be brought inland through teleportation tunnels) as well as treat dirty water.

Free Unlimited Clean Energy: Possibly the single best use of this technology would be building teleportation tunnels from below a pool to above it so the water could go through the short tunnel then fall back down and turn a turbine. Due to the warped distances this device could generate you could end with increases in energy.

You could build a power plant like this for probably substantially less than any other form of power plant. If there is no minimum size to the amount of area removed from time you could make smaller versions of these power plants like a generator for a few thousand dollars. It cannot be overstated what a huge impact this kind of energy being introduced to the world would have, I think it would mostly be good, but there could be plenty of harmful applications as well.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I haven't seen that many question about scenarios, that would easily make the world a objectively better place, but this certainly seems to be one of them. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Jul 1 '15 at 22:30
  • $\begingroup$ A lot of the implications of taking a area out of time to warp distances, are really hard to imagine and rather give me a headache but are inevitable consequences of the technology. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Jul 1 '15 at 22:32
  • $\begingroup$ «oxygen scrubbers» I'm sure you mean carbon dioxide scrubbers? $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 1 '16 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ «If time pockets are recursive» OP indicates they are not. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 1 '16 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ @JDługosz Just looked back at question, didn't see your comment before. If they aren't recursive that only affects one type of free energy generation, how the boundary works is is something that may be somewhat useful if it lets out light. It can also act as effectively an indestructible wall which presents some potential possibilities. The question also states that you view everything outside the field as being stopped, this is obviously nonsense because you should have no way of stuff outside the field hitting you with it's light. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 31 '16 at 2:30
1
$\begingroup$

An interesting element which seems largely absent from the answers so far - this technology can clearly be used to benefit businesses, at the expense of their workers. Getting people to work a 16 hour shift in a warehouse seems so much more reasonable if some of these hours are in "stopped time" - longer working hours could well become manditory in busy manual trades for this reason. There's the 10 meter restriction, but is there any reason to believe that a whole warehouse could not be covered by removing several areas next to each other and reactivating them in unison?

What would be really interesting to see is an underclass of workers who are forced to work ridiculous hours in "stopped time" but don't have access to the technology for leisure purposes (being an underclass and all..).

In fact this can be taken down some really dark avenues- we're all hopefully aware of the issue of sex slavery in the western world- imagine how much worse it would be in a world where men could be seen to in seemingly impossible numbers due to the use of stored up time- and the effects this would have on the women forced to do this.

Rooms could also be kept in storage for the purpose of punishment in prisons - imagine having to spend a week in a room with just the basic facilities needed for life but no other sensory input at all. I've drifted way from the exploitation angle a bit, but still the point is, there are some really sinister applications for this.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Faster aging is the major issue, the time it provides is not free at all. For example, using 8-hrs 5 days a week would make the average person age almost 25% faster so a physically 70 year old person would only be 53 in 'real' time. This would impact retirement accounts, social security, insurance etc.

As in the above answer, the tool has industrial, military use. But I disagree that routine removal of people from time would be beneficial overall. Maybe for a few years in college before exams :D

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.