Skip to main content

Time travel and manipulating history

Whenever time travel is discussed, the idea of going back and manipulating history comes up. I've written a couple of books about the real science of time travel - How to Build a Time Machine (Build Your Own Time Machine in the UK) and 10 Short Lessons in Time Travel. One of the main takeaways from these is that while time travel to the future is relatively easy thanks to the special theory of relativity, even without the paradoxes that inevitably arise, getting into the past is practically impossible, even though it is not strictly prohibited by the laws of physics. Yet I have discovered an interesting time travel related development involving manipulating the past.

Of course, changing our view of the past by re-writing history is nothing new. Arguably, everyone who writes a successful history book does this to some degree. And now that the internet is the major source of information for much of the world, comprehensively removing something from the net has become something of an industry for those who feel the need to manipulate history.

The other day, I was looking for a picture of a small monument, erected in Perth, Australia in 2005. It has always been of interest to me because it was specifically related to time travel. I've pulled up a picture of this structure several times in the past: my aim was to make sure that I had the exact wording on the metal plaque fixed to the monument. But when I searched online yesterday, I could find no reference to it. Its Wikipedia page has been deleted. Searching on Google for every possible combination of wording I could think of came up with nothing. Some might suspect men in  black were responsible, but I can only assume that the good people of Perth have decided that the existence of this monument made them a target of humour and so have expunged it from online history. [UPDATE - thank you to SG for finding the photo of the plaque above!]

The reason the plaque is of interest to those writing about the science of time travel is that the it locates in time and space one of a few examples where attempts have been made to provide a destination point for travellers from the future. Other were a Baltimore, Maryland event held in 1982, hosted by a group called the Krononauts (they were taking it seriously, then), a time travellers' convention at MIT in 2005 and a time travellers' party thrown by Stephen Hawking that never had much hope of getting attendees given that it is both recorded as being in 2009 and 2012, may or may not have been at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge, and Hawking was supposed to have provided 'precise GPS coordinates', but they are very difficult to find.

The Perth plaque was an altogether more solid concept. The monument described the location and time for 'Destination Day' where it as hoped time travellers would turn up. As I feel, for art's sake, that this time travel memento ought to be better preserved, here is the full text from the plaque:

In the event that the transportation of life from the future to the past is made possible this site has officially been designated as a landmark for the return of inhabitants of the future to the present day.

Destination Day

12 Noon (UTC/GMT + 8 hours)

31st March 2005

Forrest Place, Perth 6000, Western Australia

Latitude – Longitude

31.9522 – 115.8591

We welcome and await you

The question is, if they have expunged the Destination Day plaque from history because no one came (surely they would have left it there if time machines had turned up)... is its removal from easily accessible record why no one came?

See all of Brian's online articles or subscribe to a weekly digest for free here


  1. Thanks, SG - much appreciated!

  2. Forrest Place was refurbished in 2019, so the plaque may have been removed. Will contact the Museum of Perth and see if I can find out.

    1. Thanks - that would be interesting. Though, to be honest, the really interesting thing is not that the plaque isn't there, but that it has almost entirely been expunged from the internet.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope