Join the Minute Physics YouTube Channel on a Journey Through Fictional Time Travel Logic

Image: YouTube, via screenshot.
Image: YouTube, via screenshot.

Any journey through time and space is bound to get a little wonky. How can you have free will travelling through time if the past has already happened? What happens if you meet your past self? Why did Marty almost hook up with his mom? The great mind behind Minute Physics is here to help.


There are a lot of strong analyses on time travel in fiction, but the Minute Physics YouTube channel’s is more elegant and wide-ranging than most. It considers some examples that I hadn’t even considered (Did Charles Dickens invent time travel fiction?!) and manages to lay out the plot to Primer in a way I very nearly understand.

Check it out below, and let’s take the time to chat about our favorite versions of time travel in fiction. I’m partial to Looper, but only because I think Rian Johnson is a genius. That scene between Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon Levitt in the diner gets me every single time.


io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


If I were to make a time travel movie/series, I’d explain away paradoxes as being self correcting under the Many Worlds hypothesis. Here’s my take:

1.) The Omniverse is a waveform spectrum of the organization of the laws of physics created at the Big Bang, signifying the end of one Omniverse and the birth of a new one. So, at one end of the wave, the laws of physics are such that matter never forms beyond a diffuse soup of subatomic particles. Conversely, at the other end, physical laws are so strong, that all matter is just a single lump of dense material, with no room for movement.

2.) While there are infinite universii between these two points, the relevant multiverse is, to use Rick and Morty parlance, the Central Finite Curve, the segment of all possible universes that can allow the rise of complex organic life as we know it and has the range of physical laws that allow safe travel between them.

3.) Time Travel is not only traveling through time, but crossing universes as well. As such, if one were to travel back in time and kill their own grandfather, they wouldn’t cease to exist, but the version of themselves that would have existed had their grandfather lived would cease to be. Since you are from a universe where you exist because a version of yourself didn’t kill your grandfather in the past, you still exist. Conversely, if one were to travel into the future, they would emerge in a universe where their absence would have affected the course of events. This applies to people who return to their perceived ‘present’ from the past, as well.

So, under these rules, what’s the point of time travel? You don’t actually CHANGE anything, you just go from one timeline to the next, a castaway of time, unable to return to YOUR timeline because of causality.