1063: "Kill Hitler"

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hawkinsssable
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby hawkinsssable » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:02 pm UTC

rattusprat wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:I remember a TV show where there was a seemingly unimportant reference to a guy who'd bought the power of time travel (which had previously belonged to a main character who sold it for cash) for the purpose of killing Hitler. Turned out to be a brick joke, as in the next season it sparked an entire episode...


I believe you are referring to the show Misfits.

PS. and apologies for getting everyone stuck inside tvtropes for 3 hours.


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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby evac156 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:19 pm UTC

After what I'd consider a dry spell, this one is really excellent. Made me laugh out loud, which few things do on a Friday morning at work. (Since I don't start my drinking until Friday at lunch.)

Also, it makes perfect sense, for black-hat guy, a self-admitted classhole. If someone gives you a job to do, put yourself in a can't-miss situation. If someone tells you to kill Hitler, it's perfectly logical to pick a point where you know he's going to be killed, rather than picking some other point and risking failure. The acceptance criteria, as specified, were satisfied. This is the problem with underconstrained specifications.

(Sorry, RL bleeding over. I've been dealing with way too many tickets at work lately where the requirements were only half-specified.)

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby *Kat* » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:41 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:
*Kat* wrote:
Lukeonia1 wrote:Ooh! I like rambling about time travel and causality!

I posit that even with a time machine it is impossible to alter history, because whatever "changes" you make in the timeline become just another part of everyone's history, including your own. Anything you do in the past will have already occurred before you got there, so everything that happens while you're in the past will play out exactly the way your history remembers it.

If you were to go back in time to kill Hitler before he became someone that needed killin', and succeed, then there would be no reason for you to go back in time to kill him, so you wouldn't, so Adolf would become Hitler again, so you'd go back in time to kill him, and so on ad infinitum.

Furthermore, suppose you're suicidal and decide to go back in time to kill your father before you were conceived. The fact that you exist makes it a foregone conclusion that in the past, you either failed to kill anyone, or you killed the wrong man. Either way, you'd be better off instead taking that time machine into the future, gathering the hot stock tips that will have by then made you a rich man, and then using the proceeds to buy enough hookers and blow to forget your troubles.

And don't bother trying to kill your past self when he arrives, the fact that you're still alive means you won't succeed no matter how hard you try.

So time travel all you want, history has already made sure that nobody will ever know you were there. Unless of course, you're this guy.

Ok, I'm done.


People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.

Time occupies at least 1 dimension, it could easily occupy a second. Assuming you could alter the past you would only create an alternate timeline. The original timeline would still exists and have the problem you tried to fix.


Wibbly wobbly, time-y wimey.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby dmm » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:48 pm UTC

Regarding practical time machines needing to be trans-locators as well (due to motion of Earth, etc.): they get sucked along by the aether.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Davo » Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:32 pm UTC

How do we know that it's actually BHG who returns from the 'kill Hitler' mission?

Could be that when BHG confronts Hitler in his 1945 bunker, Hitler manages to kill BHG. Hitler then escapes, has plastic surgery to look like BHG, and uses the time machine to return to 2012.

Hitler is now BHG.

Scary.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby pbnjstowell » Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:40 pm UTC

I wear a black hat now. Black hats are cool.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby evac156 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 6:49 pm UTC

pbnjstowell wrote:I wear a black hat now. Black hats are cool.


I've been wearing a black leather fedora since 1989. I went back in time and made them cool.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby iamspen » Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:15 pm UTC

pbnjstowell wrote:I wear a black hat now. Black hats are cool.


I wish I could like or upvote retweet your post, or whatever social network thing is trending right now.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Goderic » Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:24 pm UTC

Doom Shepherd wrote:
Dr. Diaphanous wrote:BHG only implies he killed Hitler in 1945. What actually happens is this: He goes back and kills Hitler in 1914, in a bunker in WWI. The Allies win WWI and have the treaty of Versailles, causing great resentment and instability in Germany. However, without Hitler, this doesn't lead to the Nazis gaining power. Instead, the German Communists (the Nazi's main rivals) win and seize power (IRL they lost power when they were blamed for the Reichstag fire). They then start WW2 as allies of Communist Russia. With the combined might of Germany and Russia, they quickly conquer mainland Europe, and then the UK also fall to them. This lets Italy conquer North Africa. To secure its power in the Pacific against the USA, Japan allies with them. Russia and Japan then share China between them. Then Japan and bombs Pearl Harbour. The Combined Japanese, European, and Russian forces invade the USA, conquering it in 1945. There is then a huge international celebration because the war has been won.

BHG then goes back to 2012, and says the the other guy "1945 was loud". The other guy says "NO!". This is Polish* for "yeah", because he agrees that the 1945 celebration was very loud (he knows because the American Communist puppet government has reenactments on victory day every year).

*he is descended from a Polish soldier fighting in the West Polish army fighting for Ernst Thälmann's Germany. He still speaks English as well, because they fought in close cooperation with the Britisches Heer (british army).


This is why if you really want to save all those people (and are irredeemably evil, like me), you go back to 1842 and toss a grenade into Marx and Engel's first meeting. No Communism, no Soviet Union for the Nazis to arise as a reaction to. So you avert not only everything the Nazis did, but also the Ukrainian genocide, the Great Leap Forward, the Khmer Rouge, etc. You probably still end up with some Socialism (given that the ideas had already begun to take hold), but of a less killtastic kind.

(Maybe you could achieve the same goals just keeping Lenin out of Russia?)

The only thing you'll accomplish with having no Soviet Union is Hitler winning WWII. Nazism didn't rise because of communism but because of the economic crisis in Germany.

If you really want to stop Hitler I suggest you stop the Treaty of Versailles.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby MathUhhhSaurus » Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:40 pm UTC

What happened to paying Ben Franklin a visit? I thought that was the top priority item! http://xkcd.com/567/

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Ken_g6 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:41 pm UTC

That wasn't a time machine. Never was. If it had been, BHG would have written himself a letter listing companies for his younger self to invest in, and would have become the richest guy on Earth!

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby flicky1991 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:48 pm UTC

Hey, I completely forgot I wrote a completely relevant thing months ago: http://www.fictionpress.com/s/2992475/1/The_Death_of_Marvin_Brotz
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby maxQ » Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:56 pm UTC

Ken_g6 wrote:That wasn't a time machine. Never was. If it had been, BHG would have written himself a letter listing companies for his younger self to invest in, and would have become the richest guy on Earth!



That doesn't seem like BHG to me... I agree he would make a list of companies to invest in. But he would give the list to someone else and it would include buying UAL in September 1989, AOL in 1996 , WorldCom in early 2000, and Facebook at IPO.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Daimon » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:31 pm UTC

I don't agree that the first thing you should do is kill Hitler; that's probably one of the last things I'd do.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby sehkzychic » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:44 pm UTC

There's a perfectly reasonable explanation: This is a historical document. Originally, Hitler had a plan and made it safely out of the bunker and struck a new deal with Stalin. Together they wiped out the Allies, at which point Hitler turned on Stalin and defeated him (the Soviets never abandoned their tactic of using human canon fodder). Hitler was thus in control of all of Europe and most of Africa. By that time, his scientists had figured out nuclear weapons, and with their superior rocket technology wiped out the Eastern seaboard of the United States, quickly forcing a surrender, and making Hitler the most powerful man in the world. In near modern times, BHG decides that there's no place for classholes in this dystopian world and builds a time machine with the intent to escape to a time where he can rule the world with his knowledge of modern technologies like firearms, flight, and the electric guitar. At the last moment, his one friend convinces him that he can fix things by going back to kill Hitler before things got out of control. He succeeds in his mission, killing Hitler and setting the stage for the modern era of free markets, ever-[so-slowly-]expanding civil rights, and Jimi Hendrix. His friend, however, doesn't remember the original, horrific world, knowing only that Hitler died in a bunker after being responsible for the deaths of millions, never knowing that BHG had saved billions.

In short, Vote BHG for Secretary of the Internet! A True World Hero.




...right, guys?


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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:20 pm UTC

dmm wrote:Regarding practical time machines needing to be trans-locators as well (due to motion of Earth, etc.): they get sucked along by the aether.

More to the point, they get sucked along by inertial frame dragging, just like all of us traveling through time forward at one second per second.

(Actually, I suppose that would make all time travelers end up at the center of the Earth, as that's where something at rest relative to the surface of the Earth would end up if suddenly all this rock stopped pushing it away from the local center of gravity).
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Steve K » Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:40 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:
*Kat* wrote:
Lukeonia1 wrote:Ooh! I like rambling about time travel and causality!

I posit that even with a time machine it is impossible to alter history, because whatever "changes" you make in the timeline become just another part of everyone's history, including your own. Anything you do in the past will have already occurred before you got there, so everything that happens while you're in the past will play out exactly the way your history remembers it.

If you were to go back in time to kill Hitler before he became someone that needed killin', and succeed, then there would be no reason for you to go back in time to kill him, so you wouldn't, so Adolf would become Hitler again, so you'd go back in time to kill him, and so on ad infinitum.

Furthermore, suppose you're suicidal and decide to go back in time to kill your father before you were conceived. The fact that you exist makes it a foregone conclusion that in the past, you either failed to kill anyone, or you killed the wrong man. Either way, you'd be better off instead taking that time machine into the future, gathering the hot stock tips that will have by then made you a rich man, and then using the proceeds to buy enough hookers and blow to forget your troubles.

And don't bother trying to kill your past self when he arrives, the fact that you're still alive means you won't succeed no matter how hard you try.

So time travel all you want, history has already made sure that nobody will ever know you were there. Unless of course, you're this guy.

Ok, I'm done.


People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.

Time occupies at least 1 dimension, it could easily occupy a second. Assuming you could alter the past you would only create an alternate timeline. The original timeline would still exists and have the problem you tried to fix.

Occam's Razor. If there is no observed phenomenon which requires time to occupy more than one dimension, there is no logical reason to speculate that it would. Read By His Bootstraps by Heinlein and see if you can find the one paradox not resolved by the deterministic model described in the story.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Fire Brns » Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:36 am UTC

Steve K wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:
*Kat* wrote:
Lukeonia1 wrote:Ooh! I like rambling about time travel and causality!

I posit that even with a time machine it is impossible to alter history, because whatever "changes" you make in the timeline become just another part of everyone's history, including your own. Anything you do in the past will have already occurred before you got there, so everything that happens while you're in the past will play out exactly the way your history remembers it.

If you were to go back in time to kill Hitler before he became someone that needed killin', and succeed, then there would be no reason for you to go back in time to kill him, so you wouldn't, so Adolf would become Hitler again, so you'd go back in time to kill him, and so on ad infinitum.

Furthermore, suppose you're suicidal and decide to go back in time to kill your father before you were conceived. The fact that you exist makes it a foregone conclusion that in the past, you either failed to kill anyone, or you killed the wrong man. Either way, you'd be better off instead taking that time machine into the future, gathering the hot stock tips that will have by then made you a rich man, and then using the proceeds to buy enough hookers and blow to forget your troubles.

And don't bother trying to kill your past self when he arrives, the fact that you're still alive means you won't succeed no matter how hard you try.

So time travel all you want, history has already made sure that nobody will ever know you were there. Unless of course, you're this guy.

Ok, I'm done.


People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.

Time occupies at least 1 dimension, it could easily occupy a second. Assuming you could alter the past you would only create an alternate timeline. The original timeline would still exists and have the problem you tried to fix.

Occam's Razor. If there is no observed phenomenon which requires time to occupy more than one dimension, there is no logical reason to speculate that it would. Read By His Bootstraps by Heinlein and see if you can find the one paradox not resolved by the deterministic model described in the story.

:roll: This forum is in love with Occam's they insert it into every arguement whether the arguement calls for Occam's razor or not. :mrgreen: And his book still deals in hypotheticals; my belief in time travel physics changes on a day to day basis to be in disagreement with whoever starts to act like they know how time travel works.

As *Kat* said:

Wibbly wobbly, time-y wimey.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby matt96 » Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:56 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Also, I am disappointed that BHG's phone box shaped time machine doesn't go WHOORP WHOORP when he uses it.

I think it is obvious that BHG knows enough to disengage the parking brake before using the time machine.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Djehutynakht » Sat Jun 02, 2012 2:23 am UTC

I'm going to stick to my theory that WWII Hitler was BHG all along, doing it all for the sole purpose of creating havoc and mayhem.

Then he faked his own death and came back in the time machine to the present.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby jfriesne » Sat Jun 02, 2012 4:17 am UTC

Coyne wrote:Ummm...did anyone else notice that he used the machine twice?


Well, yeah -- it's good for one round trip. We're not savages, you know.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby jds13 » Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:05 am UTC

Mao would have been a better target - he's responsible for a total of 77,000,000 murders. Stalin is next with 62,000,000. Hitler is far behind, having murdered only 21,000,000 human beings.

http://democraticpeace.wordpress.com/2008/11/24/reevaluating-chinas-democide-to-73000000/

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby keithl » Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:34 am UTC

This cartoon was amusing, but a waste of a perfectly good time travel paradox. Randall has decent website skills; after first viewing the cartoon, describing a successful mission to assassinate Hitler in 1934, the cartoon should be replaced with another almost identical cartoon with BHG instead going back in time to assassinate the terrible Nazi Fuhrer Ernst Röhm (who in our timeline was the SA leader and rival Hitler assassinated). Alternate back and forth ...

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby JWSmythe » Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:38 am UTC

Am I the only one who remembers the original timeline? Hitler's reign continued through the 1960's, gaining alliances with nations to the East and South. The war didn't end until 1996, with massive casualties. The "end" wasn't a peaceful conclusion. It was the surrender all occupied territories, and subjugation of the "Western" population.

The "Western" world was only the "American Nation", which extended by what our current map shows as Canada to Chile, except Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay were "Eastern" states.

By stopping him in 1945, the Pact of the Third Reich (Pakt des Dritten Reiches) was never signed. The war quickly concluded, to be replaced by the US/Soviet cold war, and continued fighting in Eastern and Southeastern Asia on various claims of land and resources.

I am amazed by this new timeline. Somehow I gained knowledge of how to use all this new technology, but retain memories of the horrible past. There was no "Internet", or at least not as you see it. We did manage to relay some comms over Pakt satellites, but our uplinks were frequently shut down and operators executed for their crimes.

Maybe ignorance is bliss. It is, at least, for those who now inhabit the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Or as we knew it, the radioactive no-man's land.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Vroomfundel » Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:52 am UTC

gkawa wrote:You don't understand.

He went back and killed Hitler in the bunker!!! That's what you know NOW because that's what happened.
Before that, Hitler completed the development of a new weapon and won the war. In fact, xkcd was in German.
You can't remember that, he changed the whole world with that trip in time.


This wraps it up nicely - I'm surprise that it took more than one page of comments to get there.

Generally, there different ways time travel could work, and they fall in two broad categories.
In the first - timeline preservation - you simply can't change the past as it has already happened - as in the case of gkawa's reading of this comic. BHG, even if he had good intentions, simply couldn't have killed Hitler before he does what we know him for.
The second one - multiple timelines - you switch between/change/create timelines when you travel. If this was the case in the comic's multiverse and BHG did kill Hitler before his time - then upon the return trip he would find that no one has heard of Hitler and (a potentially worse) alternative history scenario has played out - if he only moves forward in time in the timeline he just created, that is. Maybe his original timeline exists in parallel, Hitler is alive and well and BHG never returns - unless the time machine actually transports him back to his original timeline. In this case, he'll be like 'hey, I killed Hitler, how come nothing has changed'. But then again, if he designed the time machine himself then he probably knows pretty well if it jumps between timelines or not.

Just loved the accumulation of references to pretty much all fascinating time-travel and Hitler-killing material I've encountered over the years!
One notable exception is Ross Kelley's musings on the subject, to which I just dedicated an article and facebook page - http://deathasingularityornothing.blogspot.com/2012/06/forwards-and-backwards-of-time-travel.html
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Rook to Knight » Sat Jun 02, 2012 11:32 am UTC

Vroomfundel wrote:
gkawa wrote:You don't understand.

He went back and killed Hitler in the bunker!!! That's what you know NOW because that's what happened.
<snip>


This wraps it up nicely - I'm surprise that it took more than one page of comments to get there.
<Snip>


Umm... Me?

"... you should have seen what Hitler was going to do in 1949..."

I admit it was maybe a bit terse, but this is an intelligent forum and I thought the inference was obvious. I guess not.

/R

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby philip1201 » Sat Jun 02, 2012 11:49 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
*Kat* wrote:People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.

I have an actual theory (as in not just a joke at least) that time is a local entropic anisotropy in the phase-space of possible worlds, such that time lines (plural) radiate out from local entropic minima, and the transworld "present" consists of all points in the phase-space equidistant from the local minimum as the indexical point (i.e. this one).


Is this testable? If yes, can you explain what it means? If no, can you explain why your statement is more valuable than a couple of meta-physics buzzwords strewn together by a herd of manatees?

From what I understand, it's a very vague description of the Feynmann sum over histories (testable, verified) with a lot of wrong (unscientific) terminology, perhaps incorporating the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (untestable as of yet).

---

My pet theory of time travel (which I did not invent) is that a time machine creates a general relativistic wormhole in the past, which results in a different solution to the laws of physics of the universe, changing everything in the future lightcone of both ends. Even if the time machine is never built in the new past, the topology of spacetime would still have a wormhole at the same point in spacetime, so there would be no grandfather paradox. For those who are inside the overlap between the past lightcone of the entrance and the future lightcone of the exit, the events would seem repeat themselves for an extremely large amount of time until exactly the same stuff* goes into the wormhole as previously exited it. This would likely cause a runaway buildup of virtual particles between entrance and exit, with a lower virtual particle intensity the less steps it takes to converge on a stable timeline. Assuming virtual particles can be eliminated, the timeline would just repeat itself until a stable solution is found (if we're stuck at an "if I find state A, enter state B. If I find state B, enter state A" non-converging point, low probability quantum events will become increasingly more likely until the feedback loop is broken).

While not testable without a time machine, it follows naturally from presently understood physics, with the added principle that a wormhole can be artificially induced.

*elementary particle are indistinguishable, except for their quantum states. It doesn't have to be the exact same particles, only the exact same state.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Daimon » Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:50 pm UTC

jds13 wrote:Mao would have been a better target - he's responsible for a total of 77,000,000 murders. Stalin is next with 62,000,000. Hitler is far behind, having murdered only 21,000,000 human beings.

http://democraticpeace.wordpress.com/20 ... -73000000/



I'm sorry, is there a difference between being responsible for these murders and actually doing them yourself? I get aggrivated when people say Hitler killed 6,000,000 jews. He didn't kill that many people! That's impossible! He might have been responsible for it, but he didn't go and do it himself, in regards to that number.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby jonas » Sat Jun 02, 2012 1:48 pm UTC

Ken_g6 wrote:That wasn't a time machine. Never was. If it had been, BHG would have written himself a letter listing companies for his younger self to invest in, and would have become the richest guy on Earth!


Have you not read xkcd strip 792: Password reuse?

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby ziggyzaggy » Sat Jun 02, 2012 3:06 pm UTC

Hitler was merely a politician and political activist, which is to say he had the help of many, many extremely evil people and sufficient traction with the populace. You can't change history by killing one person.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Steve K » Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:46 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:
Steve K wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:
*Kat* wrote:
Lukeonia1 wrote:Ooh! I like rambling about time travel and causality!

I posit that even with a time machine it is impossible to alter history, because whatever "changes" you make in the timeline become just another part of everyone's history, including your own. Anything you do in the past will have already occurred before you got there, so everything that happens while you're in the past will play out exactly the way your history remembers it.

If you were to go back in time to kill Hitler before he became someone that needed killin', and succeed, then there would be no reason for you to go back in time to kill him, so you wouldn't, so Adolf would become Hitler again, so you'd go back in time to kill him, and so on ad infinitum.

Furthermore, suppose you're suicidal and decide to go back in time to kill your father before you were conceived. The fact that you exist makes it a foregone conclusion that in the past, you either failed to kill anyone, or you killed the wrong man. Either way, you'd be better off instead taking that time machine into the future, gathering the hot stock tips that will have by then made you a rich man, and then using the proceeds to buy enough hookers and blow to forget your troubles.

And don't bother trying to kill your past self when he arrives, the fact that you're still alive means you won't succeed no matter how hard you try.

So time travel all you want, history has already made sure that nobody will ever know you were there. Unless of course, you're this guy.

Ok, I'm done.


People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.

Time occupies at least 1 dimension, it could easily occupy a second. Assuming you could alter the past you would only create an alternate timeline. The original timeline would still exists and have the problem you tried to fix.

Occam's Razor. If there is no observed phenomenon which requires time to occupy more than one dimension, there is no logical reason to speculate that it would. Read By His Bootstraps by Heinlein and see if you can find the one paradox not resolved by the deterministic model described in the story.

:roll: This forum is in love with Occam's they insert it into every arguement whether the arguement calls for Occam's razor or not. :mrgreen: And his book still deals in hypotheticals;


And since time travel is entirely hypothetical, his principle applies.

my belief in time travel physics changes on a day to day basis to be in disagreement with whoever starts to act like they know how time travel works.

Ah. Contrarianism. That works great -- right up to the point where the person acting like they know what their talking about actually does.

I'm not claiming to know how time travel works. I'm simply advocating for the application of accepted principles of logic and physics. I find it ironic that there seems to be a set of people who advocate strongly for the use of those principles where they don't actually apply (e.g, spiritualism) but who seem unwilling to apply them to the physics problem of time travel, where they are much more appropriate.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Nooska » Sat Jun 02, 2012 6:19 pm UTC

Steve K wrote:
Fire Brns wrote:
*Kat* wrote:
Lukeonia1 wrote:Ooh! I like rambling about time travel and causality!

I posit that even with a time machine it is impossible to alter history, because whatever "changes" you make in the timeline become just another part of everyone's history, including your own. Anything you do in the past will have already occurred before you got there, so everything that happens while you're in the past will play out exactly the way your history remembers it.

If you were to go back in time to kill Hitler before he became someone that needed killin', and succeed, then there would be no reason for you to go back in time to kill him, so you wouldn't, so Adolf would become Hitler again, so you'd go back in time to kill him, and so on ad infinitum.

Furthermore, suppose you're suicidal and decide to go back in time to kill your father before you were conceived. The fact that you exist makes it a foregone conclusion that in the past, you either failed to kill anyone, or you killed the wrong man. Either way, you'd be better off instead taking that time machine into the future, gathering the hot stock tips that will have by then made you a rich man, and then using the proceeds to buy enough hookers and blow to forget your troubles.

And don't bother trying to kill your past self when he arrives, the fact that you're still alive means you won't succeed no matter how hard you try.

So time travel all you want, history has already made sure that nobody will ever know you were there. Unless of course, you're *snipped due to restrictions on url usage*.

Ok, I'm done.


People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but *actually* from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff.

Time occupies at least 1 dimension, it could easily occupy a second. Assuming you could alter the past you would only create an alternate timeline. The original timeline would still exists and have the problem you tried to fix.

Occam's Razor. If there is no observed phenomenon which requires time to occupy more than one dimension, there is no logical reason to speculate that it would. Read By His Bootstraps by Heinlein and see if you can find the one paradox not resolved by the deterministic model described in the story.

Absence of evidence (ie no known phenomena) is not evidence of absence (of phenomena unknown).
Especially in a field that we don't really know a lot about how to look at - I have yet to see any thoughts or theories on how to verifiably observe time in any other way than linearly.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:34 pm UTC

philip1201 wrote:Is this testable? If yes, can you explain what it means? If no, can you explain why your statement is more valuable than a couple of meta-physics buzzwords strewn together by a herd of manatees?

From what I understand, it's a very vague description of the Feynmann sum over histories (testable, verified) with a lot of wrong (unscientific) terminology, perhaps incorporating the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (untestable as of yet).

I can explain what it means. I'm not certain if it's testable, but it's not aiming to be a scientific theory of time, it's a philosophical concept of time on the same level of abstraction as eternalism or presentism. And it is incorporating not the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics per se, but the more general philosophical analogue of modal realism, although as I am a necessitarian physicalist (i.e. I take physicalism to be necessarily true) I take the only logically possible worlds to be physically possible worlds, and so the many worlds of quantum mechanics should correspond exactly to the many worlds of modal realism.

The thought stemmed from thinking about modal realism, which is the position that every possible world is just as real as the actual world; 'actual' is just indexical, like 'here' or 'now'. That got me to thinking that debates about modal realism are highly analogous to debates about the nature of time, particularly presentism vs eternalism; is only the present "real", or are all times, past and future, equally real, and "present" is just indexical, meaning "this time"? I realized that a much more acceptable way to affirm modal realism would be to say "other possible worlds are exactly as real as other times"; I mean, Julius Caesar doesn't exist, now, but in another time he did; and the Roman Empire didn't colonize North America, actually, but in another possible world they did. That got me to thinking, further, what real difference is there between another possible world and another time? Except that modal realism generally defines a world such that it includes all of its space and time, but perhaps a simplifying way to think of it would just be thus: a possible world is just a (instantaneous) possible configuration of the universe, a frozen picture of a way matter and energy could be arranged.

With that concept of a possible world, we can say that other times just are other possible worlds, which bear a particular relation to this one, namely of being past or present states of it. Which then raises the question of how do we define a past or present state. Entropy provides a nice convenient arrow of time (and I can go into more detail of my thoughts on why we perceive time with the directionality we do, and thus define the arrow of time that way, but I'm in a hurry now so I won't just yet). So let us call a possible world a future world if it is adjacent to the actual, present world in the phase-space of all possible worlds, i.e. it differs from this one as minimally as possible, and those differences are such that it is more entropic than this one; and likewise, a possible world is a past world if it is adjacent and less entropic; and future-ness and past-ness are transitive, so a future of a future of a future of the present is also a future of the present, and a past of a past of a past of the present is also a past of the present.

Note however the indefinite articles there. "A" future or past, not "the" future or past. There will almost always be multiple possible worlds minimally different from this one which are more entropic, and multiple possible worlds which are less entropic. However, due to the statistical nature of entropy, there will almost always be more more-entropic adjacent worlds than less-entropic ones. As a result, lines of adjacent possible worlds in the direction of more entropy (the future) will diverge, while lines of adjacent possible worlds in a direction of less entropy (the past) will converge; so even if there are multiple immediate pasts, on a long scale there is one definite absolute past for any given possible world (the nearest local entropic minimum) while there are many possible futures (all the many local entropic maxima). Think of it like a hilly countryside: from any given point, there are multiple ways to walk which will lead you uphill or downhill, but if you keep going uphill you will eventually hit a point where there is no more uphill for you to go, and if you go anywhere you're going downhill again, and that point is the definitive top of whatever hill you started on; while if you keep going downhill, you'll end up at any of the many points around the skirt of the hill and then you can wander around there all you want at the bottom without necessarily having to go back up again.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby teelo » Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:47 pm UTC

Insert "hitler finds out about his xkcd strip" parody video here.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Jun 02, 2012 10:18 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:adjacent to the actual, present world in the phase-space of all possible worlds, i.e. it differs from this one as minimally as possible
If your phase space isn't discrete, this doesn't make sense. Why do you think your phase space is discrete?
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Azkyroth » Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:03 am UTC

Lukeonia1 wrote:Ooh! I like rambling about time travel and causality!


I've always been confused by arguments that seem to attribute problem-solving ability to the sum of events across a period of sum.

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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sun Jun 03, 2012 12:14 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:adjacent to the actual, present world in the phase-space of all possible worlds, i.e. it differs from this one as minimally as possible
If your phase space isn't discrete, this doesn't make sense. Why do you think your phase space is discrete?

Well, a posteriori, quantum mechanics suggests that any value which might change between two possible worlds can only change in discrete multiples of some minimum quantity (the Planck units), which would make the resulting phase-space discrete as well.

But a priori you're right, there's no strictly logical reason I'm aware of for the phase-space to be discrete. That doesn't really affect the whole of what I wrote substantially, but it would require the part you quoted to be rephrased somehow. Perhaps (and this will probably need refinement) a world is in the future of another world if it's possible to transform the one world into the other with a series of transformation that only increase the overall entropy of the world, and a world is in the past of another world if it's possible to transform the one world into the other with a series of transformations that only decrease the overall entropy of the world. That would mean that, more loosely speaking, possible worlds that we could only get to by going back in time, and then going forward again down a different path, are neither past nor future worlds; and likewise, if there are worlds that we could only get to by going into the future and then back again along a different path, they would be neither past nor future worlds either. (Using the hillside analogy, if another point on the hillside can be reached without ever climbing down, then it is uphill; and if it can be reached without ever climbing up, then it is downhill. If you have to climb up and then back down again, or down and then back up again, it's neither strictly uphill or downhill from you.) If the only transformations available are discrete ones, this reduces to my earlier claim, but now also works even if continuous transformations are possible.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:54 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Well, a posteriori, quantum mechanics suggests that any value which might change between two possible worlds can only change in discrete multiples of some minimum quantity (the Planck units), which would make the resulting phase-space discrete as well.
I don't think there's any reason to treat space and time themselves as discrete, even if things like energy and frequency are. The Planck units are convenient to work with, but if the Planck length and time are physically significant, afaik it's because reality is too fuzzy to be discerned at smaller scales, rather than that reality is actually discrete at those scales.
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Re: 1063: "Kill Hitler"

Postby Tharwen » Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:43 am UTC

xokocodo wrote:Apparently after you time travel, the windows on the machine disappear.


Clearly Hitler invented windows shortly before his death.
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