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I watched the most interesting programme last night, on time travel, the possibility of alien life forms, and whether the doors to the past are really completely closed.
In other words, it was The Science of Doctor Whp which sounds horrendously boring and science-fiction-fan-esque, but I swear it wasn't. A lot of the science washed slightly over my head, but I was completely entranced by the notions of light cones, event horizons, time moving more slowly depending on whether you're moving or still, and whether you could indeed return to a fixed point in the past. (In short- at the moment, no. But if you can find out a way to make light cones bend around in a circle, then maybe)
Living one foot in and one foot back is something of an occupational hazard for a history student. You find yourself going to "favourite historical character" themed birthday parties (I went as Audrey Hepburn [because I had a black dress], one J went as Jack the Ripper, another J went as Ghandi), and engaged in conversations over which dictator you would most like to meet.
But I struggle slightly with the age old question of "if you could go anywhere in time and or space, where would you go?". I'd certainly go to the past- as Henry DeTamble suggests, knowing things in advance would make things weird, as I'm not convinced there would be anything we could do about it, so why scare ourselves?
No, I'd go backwards. Completely outside of my own life, though it would clearly be something that had influenced me- as to get to wherever I want to go it would have to be inside my past light cone and to be there it would have had to have influenced me (Brian Cox explained this so much better than I can).
I'd quite like to go and visit Marie Antoinette. Having written a 6,000 word essay on historical representations of her in my second year, I'd quite like to go back and work out whether the things people said about her were true. You know- did she say "Let them eat cake!" a) at all, b) because she was naive or c) because there had been a banquet the night before and there was an awful lot of cake left over? She seems interesting- a real case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And I'd like to go back to France in 1940, too, to experience the exode, as this is what I wrote about for my dissertation- I'd mostly just like to see if I was right.
But really, I think I'd quite like to just be dropped in a random year, perhaps sometime in the early 20th Century, and live there for a year, with the ability to jump around in space (as in, from country to country, not planet to planet), to really feel what life was like then in comparison to what life is like now. Maybe 1923, or something- after the war had ended, before the Wall Street Crash... (actually, Bill Bryson has written on the summer of 1927. Maybe I should just read that?). Though being thrown into the middle of the English/ British Civil War (don't get me started on the accuracy of that terminology) could be pretty interesting. I'd just really like to know how much it affected people who were slightly outside the parameters of the war- did people really know what was going on?
I'm waffling. You can see why I don't speak about history often, can't you? But regardless- time travel fascinates me. I wish it existed.
If you could go anywhere in time, where would you go?