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H. G. Wells--Time Machine[1]

H. G. Wells--Time Machine[1]

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Published by Natalie Watkins
Classic Sci-Fi.
Classic Sci-Fi.

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Published by: Natalie Watkins on Mar 23, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Time Machine
H. G. Wells
The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding arecondite matter to us. His grey eyes shone and twinkled, and his usually pale face wasflushed and animated. The fire burned brightly, and the soft radiance of the incandescentlights in the lilies of silver caught the bubbles that flashed and passed in our glasses. Our chairs, being his patents, embraced and caressed us rather than submitted to be sat upon,and there was that luxurious after-dinner atmosphere when thought roams gracefully freeof the trammels of precision. And he put it to us in this way—marking the points with alean forefinger—as we sat and lazily admired his earnestness over this new paradox (aswe thought it:) and his fecundity.‘You must follow me carefully. I shall have to controvert one or two ideas that are almostuniversally accepted. The geometry, for instance, they taught you at school is founded ona misconception.’‘Is not that rather a large thing to expect us to begin upon?’ said Filby, an argumentativeperson with red hair.‘I do not mean to ask you to accept anything without reasonable ground for it. You willsoon admit as much as I need from you. You know of course that a mathematical line, aline of thickness NIL, has no real existence. They taught you that? Neither has amathematical plane. These things are mere abstractions.’‘That is all right,’ said the Psychologist.
‘Nor, having only length, breadth, and thickness, can a cube have a real existence.’‘There I object,’ said Filby. ‘Of course a solid body may exist. All real things—’‘So most people think. But wait a moment. Can an INSTANTANEOUS cube exist?’‘Don’t follow you,’ said Filby.‘Can a cube that does not last for any time at all, have a real existence?’Filby became pensive. ‘Clearly,’ the Time Traveller proceeded, ‘any real body must haveextension in FOUR directions: it must have Length, Breadth, Thickness, and—Duration.But through a natural infirmity of the flesh, which I will explain to you in a moment, weincline to overlook this fact. There are really four dimensions, three which we call thethree planes of Space, and a fourth, Time. There is, however, a tendency to draw anunreal distinction between the former three dimensions and the latter, because it happensthat our consciousness moves intermittently in one direction along the latter from thebeginning to the end of our lives.’‘That,’ said a very young man, making spasmodic efforts to relight his cigar over thelamp; ‘that . . . very clear indeed.’‘Now, it is very remarkable that this is so extensively overlooked,’ continued the TimeTraveller, with a slight accession of cheerfulness. ‘Really this is what is meant by theFourth Dimension, though some people who talk about the Fourth Dimension do notknow they mean it. It is only another way of looking at Time. THERE IS NODIFFERENCE BETWEEN TIME AND ANY OF THE THREE DIMENSIONS OFSPACE EXCEPT THAT OUR CONSCIOUSNESS MOVES ALONG IT. But somefoolish people have got hold of the wrong side of that idea. You have all heard what theyhave to say about this Fourth Dimension?’
have not,’ said the Provincial Mayor.‘It is simply this. That Space, as our mathematicians have it, is spoken of as having threedimensions, which one may call Length, Breadth, and Thickness, and is always definableby reference to three planes, each at right angles to the others. But some philosophicalpeople have been asking why THREE dimensions particularly—why not another direction at right angles to the other three?—and have even tried to construct a Four-Dimension geometry. Professor Simon Newcomb was expounding this to the New York Mathematical Society only a month or so ago. You know how on a flat surface, whichhas only two dimensions, we can represent a figure of a three-dimensional solid, andsimilarly they think that by models of thee dimensions they could represent one of four— if they could master the perspective of the thing. See?’

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