Time Machine Invention

The Observing Time Traveler Hypothesis

If we knew everything about the present, we could know everything about the past.

The expanded version:

If it were possible to know absolutely everything about the present state of a given scenario (or universe), down to the smallest detail, and a small period into the future, we could know absolutely everything about the past of the scenario (or universe)



Imagine a photo of a glass of wine that’s falling from a table top. Our experience will tell us it’s a glass falling from a table top. However, it could also be a trick, and instead be a glass being thrown upwards or perhaps even suspended in midair using invisible lines. But if we had a few more photographs that were taken shortly after the first, we would be able to say with much more certainty what had happened in the past.

Add to this photograph evidence in the form of audio, video, temperature etc, and we would be able to say with 100% certainty that the glass fell off the table.

Nothing interesting yet, but what if we could see the tiniest detail? For example, fresh fingerprints on the glass. Knowing the temperature of the water, the glass, and the air, and the rate of condensation as measured over a small time period, we would be able to tell whether the fingerprints were actually left exactly at the point in time as the glass was pushed off the counter top.

If we could know everything about this specific scenario at a specific time and over a small time period, we would be able to tell exactly what the state of this scenario was a few moments prior, provided that this ‘scenario’ is a closed environment.

What’s more amazing is that this is recursive. If we can deduce everything about the scenario a few moments ago, we could use that to figure out what the state was a few moments prior to that!

Practical applications

Of course, knowing everything about the present state is the tricky part.

One way to get a good picture of a scenario would be to use nano-sized robots. Imagine a murder scene that happened a few hours ago. Nanobots would be able to float in, measure the temperature of the body, the blood around it and determine the exact time of death. They could measure the temperature of a bullet in the wall, the rate at which it’s cooling and the texture of the wall, thus determining how long ago the bullet was fired and the velocity of the bullet when it entered and reference-check this to determine the exact distance from which it was fired.

A footprint on the carpet invisible to the naked eye will stand out clear as mud when determining the exact state of the individual fibers.

Building a Time Machine

With nanotechnology advanced enough to see into the past, we could also use it to recreate history using a Star-Trek like Holodeck. You could travel back in time as an observer and see things as they were 100s of years ago.


Chaos Theory could introduce variables. However, Chaos Theory is concerned with predicting the future, an altogether different task than “remembering” the past. We might not be able to say whether a butterfly flapping its wings today will cause it to rain in NYC tomorrow, but if we knew every detail of the universe at this exact moment, we will be able to say whether the butterfly was the cause in the past.

Furthermore, storing and processing the tiniest details of the entire universe would be a monumental, if not impossible task.

The main problem practically is that we might be changing the actual state by the act of observing it. Thousands of nanobots swarming around a bullet to measure its temperature will likely change its temperature. The further you “travel” back in time, the more uncertainty is introduced. There might be some far-out solutions to this, but I think I’ve done enough theorizing for today.


Although the time-traveler won’t be physically be going back in time, we could build a time-machine that will effectively allow the traveler to go back in time as an observer only. We are re-creating the past, today, thus bringing the past environment forward in time, rather than trying to move ourselves into a past environment.


This idea is entirely my own, though it’s a simple idea and I therefore wouldn’t be surprized if someone had already thought of it and proven or disproven it.

Yes, You Want This Car – Tesla Roadster

A few reasons:

1. The Tesla Roadster does 0-100 km/h in 4 seconds
2. It has a limited top speed of 220 km/h
3. It does an effective 50 km per litre
4. The Tesla Motor company is owned by Elon Musk, a South African.
5. Like all things you want, you can’t afford it. It will be launching later this year and costs a $100,000 US.
6. Surprise: It’s an electric car. Zero emissions.

The only drawback is that it only does about 400 km per charge and takes 3.5 hours to fully recharge. What’s revolutionary about the Tesla Roadster is that a bunch of Geek Rebels (mostly software engineers) in Silicon Valley decided they would build a really cool car. Forget fuel cells, hydrogen, hybrids etc… The most advanced battery technology available today has been entirely driven by laptop and cellphone sales.

Essentially, they rigged together a bunch of Li-Ion laptop batteries and created a supercar. These guys are awesome!

The supercar is of course a fantastic way to build a name. They do intend to release a 4-door sedan in 2010 that will cost about $30,000. Still a bit outside of my budget, but maybe they’d sell the drivetrain to Bajaj and I could get an upgrade for my scooter.   

Update: The electric drivetrain (including ‘engine’ etc) only has 17 moving parts, compared to more than 200 parts in a typical 4-cylinder drivetrain. No oil, no petrol filter, no air filter, no oil filter, no fanbelt. This thing is cheap to maintain! It’s also manufactured by Lotus, so no rickety backyard manufacturing.

We Don’t Care, We’re the Phone Company

An Open Source project called OpenMoko is busy developing a software platform for smartphones, using free software. I’m not placing any bets on an open phone platform changing the world of Telkom/Vodacom/MTN, but here’s a simple question:

If it’s possible for you to have multiple email addresses that you can use on multiple computers, why not the same with cellphones? Why shouldn’t you have multiple phone numbers on one phone? Maybe one personal, and one business. Filter out business calls if you’re having some family time.It seems to me that cellphone technology is deliberately incapacitated to prevent phone companies losing customers.

Cellphone companies seem to be positioned today where AOL and CompuServe were in the old pre-WWW days. I’m not sure this is going to change, considering the mess of licensing and regulation of wireless spectrum in most countries.

Click here for a few dozen more funky OpenMoko videos.

From the Geek’s Mouth

“I don’t care what authority you’re from and what laws you want to twistto “get your way”, but if you want to take Wikipedia away fromunderprivileged kids you’re going to have to do so after ripping theCAT5 cable out of my cold, dead hands.”

Jonathan Embersby, talking about Scarborough’s community wireless mesh network.

Turn Off Some Lights Please

Right now, are there any lights on in your house that don’t really need to be? Perhaps a TV blaring that no-one is watching? You can make a difference!

Buy your kid a BMX, not a Quad-Bike. It will be better for their coordination

And if you’re thinking of buying a Hummer, don’t! Penis-enlargement surgery is cheaper in any case.

Geek Rebel Free Idea #1


I was on the phone today while riding in a Rikki’s Cab. Wouldn’t it be great if cabs could have a variety of cellphone chargers in them? I see an advertising opportunity here for some enterprising fellow!

Incredible Bionic Arm

The above advert for iArm is unfortunately not for a production bionic arm, but is a good idea of things to come. See the video below from New Scientist for a look at a bionic hand with 5 separately controlled fingers.

Geek Rebel Crawls Out of the Closet

Hi and welcome to GeekRebel.

GeekRebel is focused on technology and the people behind it. Expect a bouquet of cutting-edge, philosophical and downright bizarre ideas to surface here.

I will be blogging about the cool things people do with technology and expect to be taking plenty of jabs at anyone slowing down the spread of technology (think Telkom, iBurst, DoC etc)

Watch this space!