Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Experiment in Time

The following events took place in my Junior Humanities class in February of 2011.

"Mr. Gibson, do you think that time travel will become possible in our lifetime?"

This was where a discussion on being a part of history had led--dangerous territory for a class ostensibly about American History and Literature.

"Well. There's only one way to find out, isn't there?"

Incredulous looks from my Juniors. They were right to be skeptical--me, a self-proclaimed idiot at anything remotely science-related claiming to have the means to definitively prove or disprove time travel? This had to be good! Good for laughs anyway.

"No, I'm serious. Take out a piece of paper," I instructed one of the boys in my class, "and write a letter to your future self:
'Dear future me', I dictated, 'If time travel is possible, please come back to Mr. Gibson's Humanities Class at CAJ on February 2, 2011 at 10:16 am.'

Okay, now fold up the letter, write 'DO NOT LOSE' in capital letters and put it in your pocket. Now, we wait.."

It was 10:15. We sat in rapt silence staring at the door. 10:16 came, and the bell rang, signifying the start of break. Still dead silent. Nobody came through the door. 10:17.

"Well, there you have it," I said, slapping my hands together as though trying to clear dust away, "Time travel clearly cannot become possible within our lifetimes, or else someone would have come through that door."

Little did I know that this would become a running joke throughout the remainder of the semester in Humanities, or that several students would play a prank on a classmate in which they made it look like a similar experiment worked, or that she would believe them for a split-second. And that... is the story of how my Humanities class disproved the possibility of time travel within our lifetimes.

Author's note: What do you think? Were we thorough? Did we disprove time travel? What else could we have done?

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