Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quantum Leap and Time Travel

Time travel is one of the numerous motifs that consistently appear in the science fiction (SF) genre. In Reading Science Fiction, when the discussion of time travel rises in the pop culture section of the book, it is mentioned that one of the purposed time travel is used by the characters of a story is to fix something in the past that once had gone wrong. When reading this line, I immediately thought of the show, Quantum Leap, which was not mentioned in the articles at all.

Here is a very general description of the storyline from Internet Movie Database ( for those who do not know:
Doctor Sam Beckett led a group of top scientists into the desert to research his theory that a man could time travel within his own lifetime. Unfortunately, in order to save his funding, he was forced to enter the accelerator prematurely and vanished. He then found himself in someone else's body with partial amnesia. His only contact from home is Al, a holographic image only he can see and hear. Setting right things which once went wrong, Sam leaps from life to life, hoping each time that this is the final leap home.

In each episode, Sam must figure out who he is and what he has to make right of the situation he has leaped into.

Though time travel isn't something new in the SF genre, Quantum Leap beings a different aspect of time travel into play. Having watched most of the show, Sam can not control where or when he leaps from time to time. The driving force of these leaps is never revealed; he just hopes the next leap is back to the lab in which he disappeared from. When he leaps into the body of whoever in whatever time, the "actual person" he has left into is back in the science lab in Sam's time, usually confused and scared, not understanding what is happening to him, much like Sam after he has leaped. But once Sam has leaped in a person, he controls all aspects of that person and, not only fixes what went wrong involving that person, he changes the affects of time while the actual person is rendered helpless of control over their own lives. This is a power God-like: almost an all- ruling ability to change- well history! But what if it is God who is having Sam leap around from decade to decade, fixing things that went wrong in the world. This brings as whole new aspect to discussing science in relation to religion. This topic of course would be too in depth for a single blog post, but the connection is there. How can there be a pre-destined plan in a person's life if time travel is possible? Would time travel disprove the existence of [a] God is a person can go back and change history ( which would affect the years after the event)?

These are just a few questions SF, at least not in Reading Science Fiction, has not addressed.

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