In Back to the Future Part II, Doc Brown illustrates to Marty how his nemesis, Biff Tannen, used the DeLorean to travel back in time in order to change his life. Biff gave the 1955 version of himself a sports almanac from the future and instructed him to bet on all the winning teams, thereby changing history and making himself wealthy. The history that Doc Brown and Marty knew leading up to 1985 had thus been changed, and therefore they had to return to 1955 and stop future Biff from giving the almanac to his teenage counterpart.
If you’ve read my book, Paradox, you’ll notice some similarities. I love time travel and the Back to the Future movies. Sure, there are some glaring plot holes in Back to the Future—like the fact that Marty’s mother, Lorraine, falls in love with him in 1955, and that alone should have immediately eradicated Marty from existence—but we love fictional works on time travel because it’s such a mysterious and wildly speculative subject. It’s something we’ll probably never achieve, because if we will, wouldn’t we be meeting all sorts of time travelling fellows from the future?
Perhaps we already have though. While waiting for my wife at one of her appointments this morning, I was reading about how a recent experiment supports Einstein’s theory of a cosmological constant. Scientists studied alcohol molecules from a galaxy 7 billion light-years away (don’t ask me how—still scratching my head on that one), but they discovered that the mass of protons and electrons were pretty much the same as they are on Earth. Because the galaxy observed is 7 billion light years away, that means that the measurements taken come from a time 7 billion years ago (the time it took light to travel from there to here), and thus the mass has remained unchanged for over half the life of the universe (estimated at 13.7 billion years old). The article went on to talk about dark energy and the implications of Einstein’s theory, but what I took from it was that Einstein was one heck of a smart dude to theorize all of this stuff and have it confirmed time and again.
Although here’s something I bet you didn’t know: Albert Einstein was NOT the smartest man in history. His brain was collected prior to his cremation by a pathologist who then studied it along with numerous others. The Sylvian fissure separating his parietal lobe was tiny, thereby making the feature approximately 15% larger than average. The parietal lobe is responsible for visualizing in three-dimensions, spatial recognition, and, naturally, mathematics.
Einstein never took an IQ test, but his IQ is thought to have been around the neighborhood of 160. That’s very high by most standards and comparable to another great scientist, Stephen Hawking, but there are plenty of others who are known to have IQs as high and even higher. Dolph Lungren, yes the actor who will “break you”, has an IQ of 160. The actor James Woods has an IQ of 180. Jimmy Carter, Sharon Stone, Quentin Tarantino, and even adult film actress Asia Carrera are all known to have very high IQs. And none—NONE—of those people have contributed to the human race like Albert Einstein.
Any Star Trek fan knows about the Prime Directive. It basically states that the United Federation of Planets can have no interference in the development of an alien civilization. And that sounds great and all, but seriously, that would likely never happen. If we ever found another alien life-form or even civilization, you bet your bananas that we’d be trying to communicate with them, contact them, sending probes and cameras and postcards and episodes of I Love Lucy and whatnot to them. And if they were technologically advanced enough, they’d probably be doing the same back. For all we know, we could have Mars rover-like probes all over our planet already!
So for Albert Einstein, whose estimated intelligence wasn’t anything super-special, it’s certainly plausible that this guy was either from the future or from a distant alien race. Both could explain the anomaly in his parietal lobe. Both could explain how his theories keep holding up time and again—which is impressive considering all the work that has been done to prove him wrong. Perhaps he was sent back from a future generation in an effort to speed up our scientific discoveries and whatnot. We always say to ourselves, “I wish I knew then what I know now.” Wouldn’t it be great to be blessed as a teenager with the knowledge we have in our thirties or forties or eighties? Maybe that was his role—to travel back and “propose” theories that future generations know in fact to be true. And if that's the case, and if he was just a messenger, maybe his intelligence is/was just average compared to the rest of his kind. Wouldn’t that just be crazy?
Or maybe he was an alien, sent to Earth to gently push us along in our plight for answers to the universe and meaning of life. You know, kinda like (illegally) teaching your kids how to drive when they are twelve so that they ace it when they turn sixteen. My dad did that for me--mostly so that I could drive our car back to our wood shed to load up wood into the trunk in the winter so that he didn't have to--but I was well-versed in driving by the time I was old enough to do it legally.
If Albert Einstein was a time traveler or alien, perhaps he's even still somehow alive--smiling in on us from whatever dimension or planet or future he's residing in now. If that's the case, thanks for all the theories! Oh yeah, and live long and prosper!