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Updates Wednesday and Saturday at 8:30 PM EST
[Unichat log --]

(08:54)SonjaOfTheMoon: Back. One of our mysterious friends claimed that Xeno wants Pancake to blow up Australia. This is weird.

(08:54)SonjaOfTheMoon: Sup with you guys?

(08:55)metampsychotic: trying ot make sense of this time travel stuff luke sent us!!

(08:55)metampsychotic: to*

(08:56)SonjaOfTheMoon: Oh, gods.

(08:56)EntropicPhantom: Yeah, it's a mess, alright.

(08:56)FelisKitty: Summarize for the new girl, please. You can go back in time... but only to create a new timeline, right?

(08:56)metampsychotic: yup!!

(08:56)EntropicPhantom: Merges, though.

(08:57)SonjaOfTheMoon: I think I've got a pretty good handle on how those work. Let me try an analogy.

(08:58)SonjaOfTheMoon: Let's say you're programming a robot to clean up after an accident. It's got a lot of small debris to pick up.

(08:59)SonjaOfTheMoon: You could have it pick up each piece individually, but that's slow. If the robot collects everything into one big pile, it can just pick up the pile and bring it to the recycling center together.

(09:00)metampsychotic: like raking leaves

(09:00)SonjaOfTheMoon: Sure, that probably works better.

(09:01)SonjaOfTheMoon: So you have the robot pile up leaves and dispose of them all at once, but what if it's a really big yard? You'd waste time moving leaves around only to move them somewhere else.

(09:02)SonjaOfTheMoon: The ideal solution is probably to gather them into a few small piles and clean up each pile at once. So if some leaves are near a bunch of other leaves...

(09:03)metampsychotic: the robot pushes them into the closest pile

(09:03)metampsychotic: oh!! and if there isn't another pile close by, it makes a new one!!

(09:04)SonjaOfTheMoon: Precisely. Etamnanki, or Gaia, or something is doing something with timelines, and if it can smoosh them together, it can process a bunch at once.

(09:04)SonjaOfTheMoon: That's my hypothesis, anyway.

(09:05)FelisKitty: Etamnanki? Gaia?

(09:05)metampsychotic: etamnanki!! it's the real name of the tower of babel if you can't spell

(09:05)metampsychotic: according to my dad it's a place, i guess, where gaia lives

(09:06)metampsychotic: or something like that

(09:06)metampsychotic: and gaia is basically cthulhu

(09:07)metampsychotic: it's why the cult was so good at killing people D:

(09:08)SonjaOfTheMoon: Etamnanki seems to be a communication system of sorts as well. As I said, Alex and I have been contacted that way.

(09:08)SonjaOfTheMoon: Not a damn clue who was trying to reach us or what they were saying, though. We only detected the transmissions with an @hena script.

(09:09)EntropicPhantom: That might be too much of a logical leap? What if it's... y'know, something else?

(09:09)FelisKitty: Ohgodnomyheadhurtsalready

(09:10)metampsychotic: welcome to the club!!

(09:11)SecundaSonja: We need to collect more data. Theo knows more. How can we reach him?

(09:12)metampsychotic: hmm

(09:12)metampsychotic: we could just ask? he seems like an ok guy

(09:12)metampsychotic: he opposes pancake!

(09:13)FelisKitty: Unless he's just a VillainWithGoodPublicity. Hell, it worked for Pancake.

(09:13)FelisKitty: We already do have some information, though. Time travel, tarballs, yeah?

(09:14)SecundaSonja: It seems like the relative positions of timelines matters a lot, and they can be manipulated.

(09:14)SonjaOfTheMoon: Go on?

(09:14)SecundaSonja: In our timeline, it's October 23, 2083. We'll call that timeline A. Suppose it's earlier in timeline B - let's say September 23, one month before. If Luke were to contact "himself" in timeline B, the timeline B Luke would receive information about his future.

(09:15)EntropicPhantom: Why not just contact yourself in your own timeline?

(09:16)SonjaOfTheMoon: Rule 11. '"Lateral" transmissions ... do not typically cause timeline forks."

(09:16)metampsychotic: omg omg omg omg omg omg

(09:16)metampsychotic: what if you do that and then the timelines merge???

(09:16)metampsychotic: i think that does an end run around the whole, "no sending information to your own" past thing!!!!!!!!

(09:17)SonjaOfTheMoon: Gods. How the hell do we fight this?

(09:19)EntropicPhantom: Hold up. If it were that easy, someone would have done it already. If Pancake could just retcon your escape from the Griddle, for example, he'd have done it already.

(09:20)metampsychotic: maybe merging timelines isn't easy...

(09:20)SecundaSonja: Which gets back to my earlier point. To effectively leverage time travel, you'd need to coordinate events in multiple timelines.

(09:20)SonjaOfTheMoon: It's like... Conway's Game of Life.

(09:20)metampsychotic: ???

(09:21)SonjaOfTheMoon: There are tons of structures in Life that don't seem to do much, but they're part of a larger structure that isn't obvious until it activates.

(09:21)SonjaOfTheMoon: Like, there's a combination of cells that normally just sits there, but when a spaceship hits it, it duplicates the space ship.

(09:22)SonjaOfTheMoon: And there's another combination that turns incoming space ships around. So if you aim those at each other and fly a space ship into it, you get a gun that fires infinite space ships.

(09:22)SonjaOfTheMoon: None of which would be obvious from either structure in isolation. It's the interplay that matters.

(09:23)metampsychotic: how does a space ship fit into a gun???

(09:24)SonjaOfTheMoon: There's a wiki that explains it pretty well. tl;dr, a "space ship" is jargon for any combination of cells that moves across the board over time.

(09:25)FelisKitty: Do any of you play Go?

(09:25)EntropicPhantom: Me?

(09:25)FelisKitty: Do any of you play Go well?

(09:26)EntropicPhantom: :(

(09:26)metampsychotic: that was mean D:

(09:28)FelisKitty: High-level Go play is all about building weird megastructures, and then connecting them at the end to capture lots of territory at once. It's a similar idea.

(09:29)SonjaOfTheMoon: I think we can all agree that the right combination of timelines gives you more options. But there's still a fly in the lotion.

(09:30)SonjaOfTheMoon: Look at rule 12: "objects whose worldlines intersect the timeline from an external source".

(09:30)SonjaOfTheMoon: What the hell does that mean?

(09:31)metampsychotic: it means panny gave us an incomplete document

(09:32)SonjaOfTheMoon: Well, the filesize kinda gave that much away.

(09:33)SonjaOfTheMoon: All the same. There's a hole in our understanding. What are we going to do about it?

Leave a comment
[Unichat auxiliary records --]
Seabiscuit: My brain itches

Oh gosh, how can we help the kids? edit delete reply
Turquoise: "Do any of you play Go?"
*Raises hand*
"Do any of you play Go well?"
*Slowly lowers hand* edit delete reply
Arbiter: I knew that file had to be incomplete! It was way too small to justify tarballing it.

Also, all of these characters are so freaking smart and I’m jealous. edit delete reply
FallenLeaves: Well, in physics, unless there's some other usage I'm unaware of, a "worldline" is a way of describing an object's trajectory in spacetime on a graph by plotting its x-position on one axis and its position in time on the other (technically it's the speed of light * position in time to give the same units, but that doesn't really matter for a qualitative understanding).
If we then generalise this concept, a "worldline" could have a third dimension in metatime. I guess it would be "from an external source" if the previous position in metatime is not the same as that of the universe it's currently in.
Does this make sense to anyone? (Either the concept or the explanation)

Oh, and what on Earth is the page title about?
EDIT: I've just realised that this probably includes (if not exclusively refers to) "time travelers", or at least those from other timelines. That means that this timeline has such objects, and as such is difficult to fork. Does this make sense?
EDIT: I've just realised that this makes no sense, as the rate of travel through time and metatime is always the same. I'm lost. edit delete reply
SansTheComic: just look up the title. edit delete reply
Steve the Mew hunter: I knew it sounded familier edit delete reply
Arbiter: Now I’m even more confused. edit delete reply
Xenocartographer: This page is all about time travel rules. As the author, I came up with the time travel rules... and I'm certainly sneaky and mean. So, I'm the giant rat that makes all of the rules. edit delete reply
Xenocartographer: To your first edit: If there were time travelers in this timeline, it would make it difficult to fork. edit delete reply
FallenLeaves: I'm pretty sure there are? Apart from SecundaSonja and pwnz0rz, who might be time travelers or might not, there's also mention on (55) of a "mistery time traveler", who might of course not be in this timeline at this moment, as it sounds like they move around a lot.
(I'd read your use of the subjunctive in that sentence to mean that there aren't. Would that be right? Rules about open and closed conditionals seem to be a little ... woolly.) edit delete reply
Xenocartographer: To your second edit: Close, but there's something important you haven't picked up on. You do have the information you need to figure it out. edit delete reply
FallenLeaves: Well, one problem at least is that I was thinking continuously, which doesn't really work in this model. So I'm guessing "intersecting" doesn't mean "with a single point where these two non-parallel lines meet", but rather something along the lines of "currently in this timeline having not always been". edit delete reply
SansTheComic: honestly i've given up trying to understand the time travel rules, even with the help of that most potent of tools, a diagram. i've got the vague gist of it all but not much else. edit delete reply
Steve the Mew hunter: I am going to try and not worry about time travel rules if I can help it. I'm gonna trust y'all to figure out this mess. GLHF. edit delete reply
FallenLeaves: I've just been thinking about evaluation order. Fundamentally, when a timeline forks, is one of them evaluated before the other, or are they evaluated at the same rate (metatime-wise, that is)?
Also, I was sort of assuming for a while that "time travelers" and transmissions in time worked the same way. That assumption, however, doesn't seem to hold water. So it's entirely possible that SecundaSonja and future-pwnz0rz are considered under these rules to not be time travelers, depending on both what they're doing and how exactly these rules work. This makes sense of your reply to my first edit above. Or as much sense as I'd expect anything to make, anyway. (EDIT: (This seems to happen a lot) I've re-read this page and thought some more, and now I think my original problem with this interpretation was wrong. I'm lost again.)
EDIT: Oh, and because this is apparently what I do now, here's a link to a Google doc in which I'm attempting to write up my thoughts on these rules. As always, feel free to add your own. edit delete reply