The when in the title means to what time period would you go, not how soon you would leave the present. I’m using when with respect to time travel the same way one might use where when taking about space travel.
For purposes of this obviously hypothetical thread, let’s ignore the fact that a machine that moved only in time would take you to the current point in space before or after the earth came through, thus leaving you sucking the vacuum of deep space. So, we assume the time machine stays with earth, as long as you stay within the roughly 9 billion year duration of earth counting past and future. If you pick a point outside of that, you get to define the parameters.
Would you go forward, back, or both? In what order would you make your trips? How far forward or back would you go? Would you ever bother coming back to the present? Please give at least a brief explanation of any choices you list so we can understand your reasons.
Here’s a list of my own choices:
- 50,000,000 years in the future. I’d want to see who (meaning what species) evolved after we humans kill ourselves off. This should be enough time for a good variety of new species to have evolved.
- 200,000 or 2,000,000 or 7,000,000 years in the past to see the earth as it was before homo sapiens, before the entire homo genus, or before hominids, respectively. How pristine I want to view the earth depends on my mood. With a time machine, I’d probably want to visit all 3 of these points.
- 70,000 – 80,000 years in the past. This would be an environmentalist move on my part. At this time in pre-history, there were just 1,000 – 2,000 breeding pairs of humans on the planet. If I could round all of them up together and kill them in one cataclysmic event, I would save the world from the damage caused by the so-called great leap forward of humans, i.e. the sixth great extinction. Note: it is important that they all die together as I would also instantly die for having killed off my ancestors. If I miss and some survive, I might only kill myself by killing one or more ancestors but not save the world from humans.
- Beyond the other choices, I would want to visit a point in the time of the big dinosaurs, a point when pterosaurs still existed, the world of the trilobites, and other interesting points in the past. Then I might want to sample some times farther in the future and see what species evolve beyond the 50,000,000 year time mark I specified earlier.
- The Big Bang! If there were some hypothetical way to visit the early universe without it killing me, perhaps from another dimension … with voyeuristic intention. Note that this could genuinely be done without moving in space. The big bang happened right here. Of course, that can be said equally about any point in the universe.
P.S. If you find my parameters way too limiting, feel free to use the ship of the imagination, from Cosmos, that can go anywhere in spacetime on any scale. But, please try to be at least somewhat serious and explain why. I’m hoping that this thread won’t just devolve into two threads of discussion on the benefits of going to the Quentulus Quazgar Mountains in the land of Sevorbeupstry on the planet Preliumtarn, third out from the sun Zarss in Galactic Sector QQ7 ActiveJ Gamma versus the home of Eccentrica Gallumbits on Eroticon VI. Though, I do admit these are good choices, especially the latter.