The Time Machine

Study Question

Why, according to the Time Traveler, is the Fourth Dimension overlooked? 

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The fourth dimension is overlooked because we have nothing concrete with which to measure its existence.

Subsequently, the Time Traveler expounds on the current notions of Space which is believed to have three dimensions: length, width, and thickness. He mentions the current mathematical attempts to discover a fourth dimension of Space, the theory of which is that there might be an additional right angle to the preexisting three right angles if we only knew where to look or how to perceive Space in a way other than the way to which we are currently limited to. It is then the Time Traveler reveals his discovery: He asserts that Time, and not an additional, spatial right angle, is the fourth dimension of Space. Moreover, just as man has found a way to defy gravity and vertically travel through Space via the balloon, the Time Traveler claims that he has found a way to travel through time.

Relativity of Time

The Time Traveler explains some basic concepts of relativity in Chapter I, proposing that time is a fourth dimension of space and that we overlook this because "our consciousness moves along it." (Relativity would become an enormously influential and realized concept when Albert Einstein wrote a groundbreaking paper on it in 1905.) While "The Time Machine" is less a work of hard science than one of social science, Wells holds true to some of these ideas. For instance, the TT does not instantly appear in some future or past point, but must travel through time at an increased rate to get there; he goes into the future, for instance, by moving quickly relative to normal time. He also remains in the same space, since the Time Machine only moves along this fourth dimension (however, if the Time Machine were truly to stay in the same space, it would end up in some part of space as the earth revolved around the sun--but perhaps Wells assumed the machine would stay bounded by the earth's gravitational pull). Wells skirts some logical problems with time travel by using backwards travel only when the TT returns, and thus eliminates cause-and-effect paradoxes (for instance, if the Time Traveler killed his past self, he could not logically have existed in the future to perform such an act).


The Time Machine;