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Take a Summer Time Trip

iStockphoto / mstay

iStockphoto / mstay

By Guy Micklethwait

Backwards time travel, parallel universes and temporal paradoxes – take a ride with the best time travel movies.

Guy Micklethwait recently completed his PhD thesis, Models of Time Travel: A Comparative Study, using films at the Australian National University.

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Filmmakers have been using ideas about time travel as plot devices for many years. These films speculate about the physics and philosophy of time travel, including parallel worlds and the consequences of temporal paradoxes. Here are five highly recommended time-bending movies to while away those long hot summer days and nights when time slows down.

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In a causal loop, information that comes back from the future can trigger changes that end up causing the predicted event to take place. There are several examples of this in the sci-fi mystery thriller Twelve Monkeys (1995). Scientists use a time machine to send James back from the year 2035 to 1996 to gain a sample of a virus in its pure form. Each time he returns from the past, nothing has changed in his world; however, each of his trips to the past creates a “change” to the timeline that inadvertently creates his future.

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In 1961 Edward Lorenz created a simple weather forecasting model and noticed that the slightest change in his input data would give very different long-term weather predictions. He later commented that the flap of a butterfly’s wing could cause a tornado in some other part of the planet, and thus the term the “Butterfly Effect” was born. In the psychological thriller The Butterfly Effect (2004), Evan learns to travel back in time to his childhood and make small but...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.