aaron maxwell

Time Travel and Fresh Cherries

Into The Universe is an interesting Discovery channel show by Stephen Hawking. One episode discusses time travel, going over several theoretical ways it might be possible under the laws of physics as we know them.

In the show, Hawking concludes that time travel to the past is probably not physically possible. Time travel to the future, however, is certainly possible. The show describes several possibilities, all exploiting time dilation in some way.

This got me thinking. What if the astounding challenges of engineering and power requirements were somehow solved, to the point that forward time travel was not only possible, but extremely affordable? In other words, you could affordably ship a cargo container "into the future" some number of months or years, just as easily and affordably as you could ship an 18-wheeler full of cargo from one side of a continent to another.

Such a technology would have fascinating implications:

  • Anything seasonal could suddenly become plentiful all year round. Cherries have a very short growing season (June in North America), and aren't available at the same quality and quantity elsewhen. Imagine producing a tremendous quantity of such cherries, dividing them up into portions, then shipping each batch one month, two months, ... 11 months into the future. Boom, you have seasonally prime cherries all year round.
  • Organs available for transplant are less likely to be wasted. Suppose a donor passes away, but there is no matching donee who needs (say) their kidney at that time. Hospitals could transport it three months into the future, giving the organ another chance to be useful.
  • More prosaically, companies dealing with perishable inventory could enjoy reduced spoilage. Say you run a dairy supply company, and a very large client unexpectedly cancels their contract. Instead of unloading those extra 20,000 gallons of milk at fire-sale prices, you now have the choice of transporting them several months forward, perhaps in installments, and planning your production accordingly. Repeat this story in different industries and contexts, and you potentially get higher profit margins and lower end-consumer prices.
  • It can become possible to securely "store" dangerous or valuable items. Perhaps you have a stockpile of gold bars, worth $100,000,000.00 USD, which you know you want to hold for five years. Rather than paying for secure storage all that time, you could transport it to the future date you want it available. The gold obviously turns into an extremely illiquid asset in that interval. But you sure don't have to worry about anyone stealing it. You'd save a lot on insurance alone.
  • The stock of companies offering cryopreservation services would tank.

What are YOUR ideas? If transporting anything months or years into the future was cheap and reliable, how would it change your world?