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Temporal Anomalies

Main Page
Discussing Time Travel Theory
Other Films
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See also entries under the
Temporal Anomalies/Time Travel
category of the
mark Joseph "young"
web log
elsewhere on this site.

Quick Jumps

  Primer Questions
Temporal Theory 101
  Theory Questions (From The Examiner)
Star Trek (2009)
Bender's Big Score
Popular Christmas Movies
The Butterfly Effect

Miscellaneous Articles
in original publication sequence except for indices inserted at correct points in the historic flow

Temporal Anomalies Classics
Temporal Anomalies Index 2009
Back to the Future Nationwide
  Theatrical Showing This Evening

People Magazine's Woman of the Year
  Sandra Bullock
    featured in time travel films

Temporal Anomalies Index 2010
Source Code Opens April 1, 2011
Future Time Travel Film Analyses--2011
Why Not Analyze
  Time Travel Television Shows?

Men in Black III Remakes History
Temporal Anomalies Index 2011
(Some of) The Best Time Travel Movies
  You Might Have Missed

Men in Black III May 25th U.S. debut
  midnight shows tonight

Future Time Travel Film Analyses--2012
Temporal Anomalies Index 2012
(Some of) The Best Time Travel Movies
  for Children

Films Currently Showing, November 2013
Upcoming Time Travel Films,
  from February 2014

(Some of) The Best Time Travel
  Romance Movies

Upcoming time travel films,
  from December 2014

Temporal Anomalies Index 2014
(Some of) The Best Time Travel Comedies
(Some of) The Best Time Travel Thrillers

Movies Analyzed
in order examined

    Addendum to Terminator
    Terminator 3:  Rise of the Machines
    Terminator Recap
    Terminator Salvation
    Terminator Genisys
    Terminator:  Dark Fate
Back To The Future
Back To The Future II
Back To The Future III
Star Trek Introduction
    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
    Star Trek: Generations
    Star Trek: First Contact
    Star Trek (2009)
12 Monkeys
    Addendum to 12 Monkeys
Flight Of The Navigator
  Flight Of The Navigator Addendum
Army of Darkness
Lost In Space
Peggy Sue Got Married
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
Planet of the Apes
Kate and Leopold
Somewhere In Time
The Time Machine
Minority Report
Happy Accidents
The Final Countdown
Donnie Darko
  S. Darko
Harry Potter and
    the Prisoner of Azkaban

Deja Vu
    Primer Questions
Bender's Big Score
Popular Christmas Movies
The Butterfly Effect
  The Butterfly Effect 2
  The Butterfly Effect 3:  Revelations
The Last Mimzy
The Lake House
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Hot Tub Time Machine
Los Cronocrimines a.k.a. TimeCrimes
A Sound of Thundrer
Frequently Asked Questions
    About Time Travel

Source Code
Blackadder Back & Forth
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III
11 Minutes Ago
Men in Black III
La Jetée
Midnight in Paris
Meet the Robinsons
H. G. Wells' The Time Machine
The Jacket
Safety Not Guaranteed
The Philadelphia Experiment
    The Philadelphia Experiment II
Time After Time
About Time
Free Birds
X-Men:  Days of Future Past
Edge of Tomorrow
Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Project Almanac
Time Lapse
O Homem Do Futuro
    a.k.a. The Man from the Future

Abby Sen
When We First Met
See You Yesterday
The History of Time Travel
Copyright Information

The temporal anomaly terminology used here is drawn from Appendix 11:  Temporal Anomalies of Multiverser from Valdron Inc, and is illustrated on the home page of this web site.  This site is part of M. J. Young Net.

Books by the Author.

The Book

Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies
Temporal Anomalies Index 2009

As explained in the previous Temporal Anomalies Classics, the useful and oft-linked index to the years of Examiner articles became unavailable.  This was the first of a series of indexing articles, each covering articles in series begun during a particular calendar year.  This one covers 2009 from the date of our first appearance in June, in which we had four major film analyses--Primer, Star Trek (2009), Bender's Big Score, and Butterfly Effect--plus a temporal theory section and a few Christmas films.

As explained, this series of indices was started when it became temporarily impossible to maintain this web site and seemed advisable to provide links to early Examiner articles for ease of access.  That in turn became problematic, and we have since determined instead to move all that material here to M. J. Young Net, and hopefully to support it by reader contributions through Patreon and other means.


The analysis of Primer was a vexing problem for many reasons.  The opportunity to break the analysis into individual bits and deal with each in its own space was a welcome one.  Here are the sections, as they appeared at The Examiner and are now combined into a single page:

  1. The Right Question with the Wrong Answer:  Right from the beginning, the efforts to protect history are done completely incorrectly.
  2. Answering the Phone:  The mistake related to how to protect history comes into stark relief when there is a call to a cell phone, and no one knows whether or not it should be answered.
  3. Shot Gun Party:  The time travelers make the very dangerous decision to change history, and then decide to change it again--and again, and again, and again.
  4. The Wrong Aaron:  We watch one partner explaining his discoveries to the other, but what we are seeing is already not exactly how it originally happened.
  5. The Punch That Never Was:  The question is raised, what would happen if you did something and then tried to erase it?  They never get the answer, but maybe we do.
  6. The Inexplicable Traveler:  On the way to deliver that punch, the time travelers are interrupted by the appearance of another time traveler.  They never figure out how this happened, but there is a reasonably plausible explanation.
  7. The End Beyond the End:  The time travelers manage to make the biggest mistake of all by attempting to fix their mistakes.
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Primer Questions
Subsequently there were also several questions asked by readers of the series, which were addressed in their own columns:
  1. The Disappearing Abe:  Tim E. Sham, author of The Primer Universe, asked what happens to the Abe seen by Abe and Aaron entering the storage facility; the answer is simple enough.
  2. Aaron's Future Plans:  It appears that Aaron may be building a larger version of the time machine somewhere in Latin America, and the curious want to ask why.
  3. Multiple Dimension Theory 1:  Several people suggested that Primer works under either parallel or divergent dimension theory; I say it does not.  This is where I address the problems faced under divergent dimension theory.
  4. Multiple Dimension Theory 2:  In the second part of the consideration of multiple dimension theory and Primer, I address the problems faced by pure parallel dimension theory.
  5. Fixed time theory:  Whether fixed time might be the theory behind Primer is considered, with particular attention paid to the phone call.

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Temporal Theory 101

Beginning in July 2009, all Examiners were asked to contribute articles to the Info 101 project, an effort to provide answers to common questions in our fields.  Thus a series of Temporal Theory 101 articles was written, covering in brief various terms and concepts used in connection with time travel in movies:

  1. How does time work in time travel?:  An overview of the major theories of time travel is given, with mention of a few alternatives.
  2. What is fixed time theory?:  This is a presentation of the theory that the past cannot be changed, so if you were to travel to the past you would do, do, do what you've done, done, done, before, before, before.
  3. What is parallel dimension theory?:  Consideration is given to the idea that there are many other universes parallel to our own, and that time travel actually takes you to one of them rather than to our own past.
  4. What is divergent dimension theory?:  The view similar to and related to parallel dimension theory, this theory holds that such universes are created by the time travel event itself, and so diverge from the universe at the point of arrival.
  5. What is replacement theory?:  The theory favored by and defended on this web site holds that a time traveler can travel to his own past and alter it, with consequences which may affect his own existence and more.
  6. What is a temporal anomaly or paradox?:  It may be the obvious question, but it needed to be answered.
  7. What is an infinity loop?:  It seemed reasonable to include an article describing this most dangerous of all temporal anomalies.
  8. What is a sawtooth snap or cycling causality?:  The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably to refer to the phenomenon in which each history is the cause of a different history, but sometimes distinguished based on their ultimate outcome.
  9. What is an N-jump?:  The only desireable outcome for a time travel event is explained.
  10. What is sideways time?:  This notion, common to the theories of parallel and divergent universes and of supertime and two-dimensional time, suggests that one can travel across time to various universes.
  11. What is a predestination paradox?:  also known as a causal loop or uncaused cause, this popular trope of fixed time stories is explored.
  12. What is a grandfather paradox?:  the two distinct problems referenced by this term are distinguished and defined.
  13. What happens if I become my own grandfather?:  the particular versions of the predestination paradox in which the existence of an object is dependent upon its own appearance in the past is considered.
  14. What happens if I kill my grandfather before he has children?:  the problem created by a time traveler undoing his own existence is examined.
  15. What is a temporal duplicate or doppelganger?:  various ways in which a person can become temporally duplicated are considered.
  16. What is Niven's Law?:  the specific law proposed by science fiction author Larry Niven concerning time travel, that the discovery of the ability to change the past would lead ultimately to the elimination of such a discovery, is presented, explained, and discussed.
  17. A Problem with Divergent Dimensions:  examines divergent dimension theory more closely to show the complication that arises when the traveler does or does not make the same trip as his counterpart.
  18. What is the Butterfly Effect?:  looks at the meaning of this principle of Chaos Theory and how it is involved in time travel.
  19. What is the Novikov Self-consistency Principle?:  gives a brief overview of this rule devised by a physicist that amounts to saying that paradoxes are mathematically impossible under certain solutions of the problems of relativity.
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Temporal Theory Questions (From The Examiner)

Not unexpectedly, the theory articles also brought questions and comments.  Many of these were answered in the comments sections of the articles, but there were respondents who raised several points requiring clarifying articles.

  1. Temporal theory questions from Waggs:  A reader posted several challenges in comments to the articles on parallel and divergent dimension theories, including that the number of parallel dimensions need not be infinite, that conservation of matter and energy need not be absolute in a multiverse, and that under quantum theory it is possible for irreconcilable histories both to be true.  Most of those arguments are correct within their own contexts, but still need to be limited and contextualized.  [This original article was split into two parts because of both its length and the breadth of material it covered.]
  2. Temporal theory questions from Jeff:  Another reader posted several variants of replacement theory, in which specific types of results are guaranteed.  Whether the guarantee is that things will be essentially unchanged, or that they will be worse, or that they will be better, the concepts all seem to invoke providence, as the article explains.
  3. Temporal theory and theology question from Hubert:  A reader posted objections to replacement theory which appeared to be theological.  The objections were a bit unclear, and the answer is thus a bit lengthy, but it is an interesting area where the two fields meet.
  4. Temporal theory question:  How can I change the past?:  In response to the perennial question, a system is suggested that might work to change history in intended ways and provide safe outcomes.
  5. Temporal theory question:  Do the future and past exist?:  Charles "Chuck" Endicott in comments suggested that the past and future cannot exist "now", because all matter and energy is in use "now" so there is nothing to be "then".  The issue is addressed from several perspectives.
  6. Temporal theory question:  Schrödinger's Cat:  begins a consideration of the notion that all possible realities exist as a "multiverse", including a discussion of the famous feline thought experiment often cited to prove it.
  7. Temporal theory question:  The Multiverse:  presents a major flaw in the "all possible realities exist" notion.

Confusion about time travel theory was still unresolved, with some readers challenging whether we could really know anything at all about what happens if you travel through time. Thus a second theory series, Temporal Theory 102, was created to address the issues in more detail and provide some of the answers to hitherto oft-repeated questions in e-mail correspondence.  This ran beginning in 2013, and will be indexed in that later indexing article.

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Star Trek (2009)

In 2009 the Star Trek franchise decided to confuse all search engines by releasing a new movie with nothing more than the core name, Star Trek.  They also decided to confuse all the fans by going back to the beginning with a new cast in the old roles, and using time travel to erase everything that happened in all the stories to date and start a new history of the universe.  I again tackledd the film in parts.

  1. Introduction to the 2009 movie:  gives an overview of the plot and sets up the discussion ahead.
  2. Mister Scott's transwarp teleportation formula:  when Spock gives Scotty the formula Scotty has not yet invented, does that change the world at all?
  3. The death of Vulcan:  the destruction of Vulcan will have a significant impact on the future of the Star Trek crew, as Vulcans have become an endangered species; that is one of several changes to consider.
  4. Spock, know thyself:  what problems might arise from the fact that the older and younger versions of Spock ultimately meet.
  5. The final answer:  what happens to time one hundred twenty-nine years hence when Spock is faced with saving Romulus?

It is worth mentioning that three previous Star Trek movies were analyzed on the original Temporal Anomalies in Popular Time Travel Movies site, Star Trek IV:  The Voyage Home, Star Trek Generations, and Star Trek:  First Contact.  Thanks to Jim Denaxas for providing the copy of this newer film which we saw.

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Bender's Big Score

A couple of Futurama fans were pressing for an analysis of this direct-to-video animated feature, and I objected that there are more time travel theatrical releases than I can cover; if I open the field beyond that, I will be completely overwhelmed.  However, they were insistent that fans of the show will flock to the discussion, and since this was now going to The Examiner, I decided to turn my attention to Bender's Big Score.

  1. Introduction to the Futurama Movie:  a brief overview providing a glance at the plot and some of the problems.
  2. Beginning at the End:  it appears that the temporally last departure is the sequentially first, or at least that is the best conclusion we can reach.
  3. Futurama doppelgangers:  the first time trip reveals how the "self-correcting" code handles temporal duplicates, and we consider whether this is a plausible solution.
  4. Mona Lisa Men Have Called You:  as Bender begins his pillaging of the treasures of history, his first theft raises questions about all of them.
  5. Tut, Tut, Tut:  As Bender steals an Egyptian sarcophagus, we have opportunity to consider the process of thievery.
  6. Hermes ain't got nobody:  In a fatal move, Hermes loses his head and has his own body stolen from his past self.
  7. Cut to the Chase:  the convoluted paths of multiple Fry and Bender copies form the most challenging parts of the time travel story.
  8. Leela, Leelu, Lars:  continuing the chase, Fry's duplicate becomes Lars--but how does he know this?
  9. The Gorey Details:  there is an upset in the Presidential race thanks to Bender's pursuit of Fry, and that will change things.
  10. What have you undone?:  in the end, Bender manages to replace nearly all of the previous sawtooth snaps with infinity loops, undoing everything many times over.
  11. That's unwrapped:  an attempt is made to summarize the entire package.

This was another provided by Jim Denaxas, who as an animator himself was especially interested in seeing the film included here.

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Popular Christmas Movies

Christmas caught my attention as I realized the new 2009 version of A Christmas Carol was in fact a time travel film, and that there was at least one other well-known Christmas movie with a temporal element.  Thus as Thanksgiving loomed I prepared a few installments on Time for the Holidays.

  1. It's a Wonderful Time-Travel Christmas Carol Life:  provides an overview of those movies which connect some type of temporal anomaly to a Christmas story.
  2. A Christmas Carol:  focuses on the newly-released Disney version with Jim Carrey, but also on the time travel elements of the story that are consistent through most tellings.
  3. It's a Wonderful Life:  looks at the Capra classic, and the temporal elements involved in erasing someone's past and then restoring it.

There are of course movies related to other holidays that have time travel elements--we often mention Groundhog Day, and there is a Thanksgiving film the analysis of which is slated for republication that is not so much of a turkey as it sounds, Free Birds.  These were just the ones obviously connected to Christmas, and the best known.

As ever, if you are aware of time travel movies we have missed, please call them to our attention.

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The Butterfly Effect

A series has been run examining Butterfly Effect; I learned that there were sequels, and captured Butterfly Effect 3:  Revelations on my home recorder, from which I inferred that there was also a Butterfly Effect 2, of which I had never heard mention anywhere.  Still, we did the first and and sought [and eventually found] the others.

  1. A Brief Overview:  gives a very quick summary of the essentials of the film.
  2. The Blackouts Problem:  suggests that the blackouts and the time travel have the same cause, but are not otherwise related.
  3. Evan at Seven:  recreates the original history up to the death of Evan's father.
  4. Four at Thirteen:  recreates the original history beginning with the mailbox and ending with leaving Kayleigh behind.
  5. Sophomoric Antics:  discusses the first two time travel events and the minimal changes they make to history, including the problem of the burn appearing.
  6. Joining the Fraternity:  covers the timeline that begins with seven year old Evan threatening Mr. Miller and ends with the miracle.
  7. It's a Miracle:  examines the trick of making the scars appear in his hands.
  8. The Wrong Fix:  in which Lenny kills Tommy to save the dog, and then Evan visits his father.
  9. Time and Time Again:  considers the problem created when Evan relives the same events again again.
  10. Having a Blast:  in which he is a quadriplegic but his friends are all happy.
  11. On the Edge:  in which he goes back for the knife but changes nothing.
  12. Out With a Bang:  in which he kills Kayleigh with the dynamite.
  13. Grandfather Paradox:  considering whether Evan had intended to kill himself
  14. Changing the Changes:  looking again at the problem of making two trips to the same point in the past, this time when both travelers have an agenda.
  15. How to Lose a Girl in Ten Seconds:  covering the final timeline.
  16. Relying on Niven:  in which the problem of whether changes to history are or are not permanent is considered.
  17. The Other Evans:  asking what happens to the versions of the central character who must have existed in the other histories.
  18. Where It Fails:  recapping the parts that do not work.
Two sequels were made from the core ideas of this film; the first, The Butterfly Effect 2, was added to the analyses in 2012, and Butterfly Effect 3:  Revelations joined the list in 2013.  They will be indexed on the pages covering those years.

That completes the index for 2009; we will continue with articles published in 2010.

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