The Time Machine
A glimpse of the future of the human race.
What if it were possible to travel through time? Would you go forward or
backward in time? Would your aim be monetary gain or enhanced knowledge or
something completely different? The possibilities are endless. The Time Machine is a
story of a time traveler and his experience with time travel. The story was first published in 1895 by H.G. Wells. This is a great story because of the fascinating ideas it presents and the way the author has you asking yourself ‘what if?’.
The first idea presented in the story is that of a fourth dimension. I wasn’t exactly sure what the fourth dimension was because it is not something that is dealt with a whole lot in every day living. The story begins with the time traveler sitting in a room with some guests. We never learn what the time traveler’s name is, he is simply referred to as the time traveler in the story. I thought the explanation of the fourth dimension that the time traveler gave to his guests was easy to understand and very interesting. The time traveler explains, “ ‘You must follow me carefully. I shall have to controvert one or two ideas that are almost universally accepted. The geometry, for instance, they taught you at school is founded on a misconception.’
‘Is that not rather a large thing to expect us to begin upon?’ said Filby, an
argumentative person with red hair.
‘I do not mean to ask you to accept anything without reasonable ground for it.
You will soon admit as much as I need from you. You know of course that a
mathematical line, a line of thickness nil, has no real existence. They taught
Neither has a mathematical plane. These things are mere abstractions.’
‘That is all right,’ said the Psychologist.
‘Nor, having only length, breadth, and thickness, can a cube have a real
‘There I object,’ said Filby. ‘Of course a solid body may exist. All real
‘So most people think. But wait a moment. Can an instantaneous cube exist?’
‘Don’t follow you.’ said Filby.
‘Can a cube that does not last for anytime at all, have a real existence?’
Filby became pensive. ‘Clearly,’ the Time Traveler proceeded, ‘any real body
must have extension in four directions: it must have Length, Breadth, Thickness, and -
Duration. But through a natural infirmity of the flesh, which I will explain to you in a
moment, we incline to overlook this fact. There are really four dimensions, three which
we call the three planes of space, and a fourth, Time.”(1-2) To think of time as
something more than just the movement of hands on a clock is fascinating. We are
taught in school that everything is three dimensional but never realize that everything real must also have duration. This explanation of time and a fourth dimension really got me into the story and made me think “what if?”.