When Marty McFly traveled through time in the movie Back to the Future, his mentor Dr. Emmet “Doc” Brown supplied him with a DeLorian DMC-12, especially modified for the job. The DeLorian was considered well cast in this role, in that its futuristic contours seemed entirely suited to do service as a time machine. On the other hand, since the plan was to travel thirty years into the past, common sense suggests that something like a 1955 Chevy was the better choice because it would attract less attention in the target time frame. (Actually, for my money, the Chevy Impala would fit the time frame and provide a delectable design for a visionary technology like time travel.
While my thoughts were rambling around in this fashion, instead of grading the backlog of student essays piled high on my desk (or should I say proliferating on my MacBook desktop), I began to consider just when the whole notion of time travel first appeared in modern fiction. That’s easy, eh? H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine published in 1895! Well, no. Thank god for Wikipedia which gives us a list of 12 time travel stories that appeared before Wells’ novel, including such famous works as: Twain’s Connecticut Yankee (1889), Bellamy’s Looking Backward, (1887), and Dickens’ Christmas Carol (1843). Indeed, the earliest example given is Samuel Madden’s Memoirs of the Twentieth Century, published in 1733. In other words, the theme of time travel dates back nearly 300 years with occasional fantasies published even earlier.
Although it has been said that the possibility of actual time travel gets a little something of a boost from relativity theory, in point of fact it seems highly unlikely that humans will ever travel in time. Dr. Who’s Tardis is perhaps as good as any other imagined vehicle for the purpose, but I like the idea of choosing one’s favourite model of car. After all, you will need wheels to get around once you arrive!