I recently heard Dr. Michio Kaku, a fancy string-theory person who is pictured on his website looking like Doctor Who standing in front of a powerful fan, talk about his new book, Physics of the Impossible. He claims that, because we can now teleport atoms, it might be possible in the future to teleport larger things. Like Dr. Michio Kaku. He also contends that time travel might be possible in the future, and that the reason we don't notice that we're surrounded by time travelers from the future is that they are wearing clothes that make them invisible (which will also be possible in the future).
These are very exciting suggestions. I would like to be teleported. I would like to travel back in time and stare knowingly and condescendingly at the people who can't see me through my invisibility clothes.
But, you know what? I probably won't live long enough these things happen. Dr. Kaku probably won't live long enough to see these things happen. Even if I do live long enough to see these things happen, I won't live long enough to see the equally exciting things that will happen after my death happen. I will never know how this all ends, whether this all ends, which science fiction narratives were eerily prescient. Smug little future people will look back at my generation and think smug things like: "How did they ever get around without hover Hummers?" "They ate food?! What a quaint, curious thing to do?" "They had organs? How impractical!"
I hate that the people of the future will know more than I do. When I studied the period "between the wars" (1918-1939 for those of you who haven't yet discovered the glory that is looking back smugly at generations past), I was haunted by the fact that the people who lived then didn't know they were living between the wars. They probably thought of themselves as simply post-war. But I know better. I know that the world was headed for yet another appalling conflagration. And they didn't. Which means that some irritating undergraduate with great self-regard will think something about us. She/he will think how amazing it was that we didn't know yet. About the coming war? About the unprecedentedly important scientific discovery? Who knows. I don't, and that drives me crazy.
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