“We all feel a profound sense of disappointment, but we also feel peace knowing we have made the right decision,” says Dr. Dan Rasmussen. “Although we did manage to send several undergrad students forward through time, we have currently run out of funding, so the program has been shelved, at least for now. Since we do know the future, we could easily obtain the money needed by gambling, but we have decided to heed the counsel against playing games of chance.”
Dr. Rasmussen further explains that they have consulted with the Philosophy Department about whether it would still be considered gambling, since his team members who traveled forward in time now know the future and the element of chance has hence been removed. The Philosophy chair, Dr. Janice S. Allred, watched an edited, PG-13 version of Terminator II, and subsequently decided that the words of Sarah Conner were spot on—”The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves.” Based on this, Dr. Allred’s official recommendation from the Philosophy Dept was that, although chances of winning were greatly improved by knowledge gained during time travel, gambling was still gambling, and her department advises against it.
BYU grad student Madison Orton has been involved with the project since her sophomore year at BYU, and was the first student to be sent forward in time. The historic event happened a little over 4 years ago, in early 2014. “I’ll never forget that. It was a little bit after we had come back from Christmas break. We sent me forward in time to February 3rd, which was about 3 weeks into the future. It was so amazing.”
Team member and PhD candidate Thad Peterson adds, “when Madison got back, one of the other students jokingly asked if Madison knew who would win the upcoming Super Bowl. Both the Broncos and the Seahawks are popular NFL teams in Utah, and in our research group there were a couple of die-hard fans of both teams, so everyone was really curious. When Madison said that the final score was 43-8 in favor of the Seahawks, it took her about an hour to convince us that she wasn’t kidding.”
“At first we were all in shock,” Thad continues. “Then there was some spirited debate over whether the axiom “the best defense is a good offense” is qualitatively untrue, or if Peyton Manning had simply choked. Then Madison jokingly said, ‘if we placed bets on this game, we would have enough funding to last for the next 100 years!'”
According to Dr. Rasmussen, the good-natured ribbing about football was instantly replaced with silence. “You could have heard a pin drop in that room,” he says, “because building time-machines is extremely costly, and we were always just barely squeaking by financially. Even though we knew it would be wrong to use gambling to fund our research, every single one of us was tempted for a moment.”
After thoughtful discussion and the consultation with the Philosophy Dept., Dr. Rasmussen’s team decided against using knowledge of future events to make big bucks through gambling, even though it could save their program. Madison elaborates by saying, “we didn’t feel like it would be “cheating” to use future knowledge to win bets, because people do it in the movies all the time. It’s pretty much accepted that if you can time-travel, you will use it to earn money by betting on sports. The gambling industry knows this, and they don’t have any restrictions against it, so by that standard it would ethically be acceptable. However, the Church is decidedly against gambling, and we just weren’t willing to cross that line.”
The physics team did consider that the Church might change its stance on gambling in the future, making it technically OK by some theories to place bets now, but since then they have traveled 150 years forward in time, and the counsel remains the same.
For a while, several government agencies were funding the time travel research. “That money kept us afloat for most of the past year,” explains Dr. Rasmussen, “but all of our current research indicates that it is only possible to travel forward in time. Once our government sponsors learned that we wouldn’t be able to send someone back in time to a date before the 2016 presidential primaries, they dropped us like a hot rock. And they were our last significant sponsor.”
After a “Go Fund Me” endeavor failed to generate enough cash to keep the program going, Dr. Rasmussen and his team sadly shut down their lab. The funding drive did raise $3,200, which the team has invested in some weird, unknown biotech startup based in Seattle. The company, called “Passwave Gamma”, is seeking to produce software that allows people to easily use their brainwaves as a master password for all of their online and banking accounts.
Disclaimer: This is meant to be humorous science fiction. BYU doesn’t have a time travel program. Yet.