I shall be lecturing at the Necronomicon Science Fiction Convention again this October.  This time it will be rather tongue-in-cheek talking about time machines.  For the first time they asked me to give them a few paragraphs about myself for the program.  This is what I sent them:

One afternoon when I was at Harvard Medical School doing lab work an instructor dropped by and laid on the counter a few pages of original research by a man who had spent years wandering around Appalachia studying genetic disease.  He showed us how human genes were inherited just like the genes of Mendel’s peas.  I commented that yes, those families married kin a lot, and they also had very big families.  Both of those helped sort out the genetics.  An unintended consequence of the work was that the superstition developed that southerners were all inbred and that caused genetic diseases.  This was never true.  In fact Charles Darwin’s son had long ago demonstrated that insanity is reduced by marrying cousins.  I’m sure it was because Rh incompatibility was the primary genetic cause of “insanity,” which actually meant brain damage, and the incidence of that incompatibility was reduced slightly by marrying kin.  But people are quite good at believing whatever they want to in spite of facts.

The instructor said, “There are too many babies in the world, so if that’s caused by marrying kin, then it’s another reason not to marry kin.”  But I put the notion in my head in case it was ever a problem.  The same year a professor told us that it was possible to rewrite a person’s memories by indoctrination – brain washing.  Well in those days the scientists were telling us that nothing existed until it was observed … you remember, “If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?”  More recently they have found that the quantum state of a particle can be determined by making a series of gentle measurements, none capable either of revealing the state or of changing it, so the whole issue was very quietly dropped.  Yes, it makes a sound. 

But back then it was the Word of Science, and I reasoned that if you could change memories, you could retroactively change reality.  So I studied brain washing and verified the professor’s words.  By the way, torture is worse than worthless; you just make an enemy.  What you want is to gain moral ascendancy by persuading your victim that you have higher social status.  If you inflict needless pain, you are obviously a scumbag and you’ll get the lack of cooperation you deserve.  I also noticed that the process of indoctrination is very hard on the victim.  He (it was generally men) tends to try to commit suicide.

Years passed and I ran across data suggesting that returning Vietnam veterans were dying faster at home than they had during combat.  Of course, boot camp is indoctrination with strict supervision.  Resuming civilian life was also indoctrination but without supervision.  It was and is horribly dangerous.  I worked at getting the word out for two or three years until eventually a proper study was done and I was vindicated.

More years passed and we were at war again.  I puzzled about it?  Don’t we know it’s a horrible thing to do to your own men?  So I pondered it and remembered the Appalachian data.  Maybe people who avoid outsiders marry kin more often, have more children and are more easily persuaded to go to war than those who are more open to outsiders.  That turned out to be more important than I could possibly have imagined, and it has become my life’s work.  I am available to discuss it any time.  Meanwhile, if you’re interested, go to and look up the entry for last January 1.  Most of my evidence is there. 

On a more cheerful note, when I was studying in Sweden once, a friend pushed a book about black holes into my hands.  I read it with astonishment.  If what it had to say was true, then our entire concept of the universe is totally wrong.  Time isn’t what we think it is, nor is it doing what we think it does.  Well if you know how it works, then maybe you can control it, wouldn’t you think? 

I toyed with this for many years, had a few dud experiments, but finally came across a plausible way to engineer it.  That way is untested, but will be the heart of the lecture I plan to give on how to build a time machine.”

Do you suppose anybody will come to my lecture?

There have been 91 visitors over the past month.

Home page.