Back to the Han Dynasty

September 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Writing science fiction can be frustrating at times. Behind every novel piece of technology or grand conception must stand firm, well-established scientific principles. For example, the existence of modern-day tyrannosaurs in the film series Jurassic Park finds root in modern DNA replication and cloning techniques. Nowadays, sheep are the most genetically complex animals to be cloned, but it’s no stretch to extrapolate the experiments to huge dinosaurs in the future. The idea of extrapolation lies at the heart of every science fiction tale, but arguably the most popular trope of modern science fiction – time travel – has curiously escaped the clutch of rigorous scientific defense.

There simply does not exist present scientific know-how that can explain time travel. Granted, several theories – including wormholes, alternate space geometries, and faster-than-light travel – float about that try to frame the concept of time travel in accordance with modern astrophysics. But these explanations are simply theories and have not yet passed rigorous tests of proof. At present, we can only suspend disbelief when time travel occurs in fiction, and momentarily grant the writer reprieve from explanatory ramblings.

All people have been asked at least once in their lifetime of where and when they would like to journey in a time machine. My response to this question is not founded in a desire to conduct scientific research, as I have expounded on in my last blog post. Rather, my reasons are personal and self-centered. I want to witness the founding of the Han Dynasty in China over two centuries before Christ was born.

The 400-year Han Dynasty, regarded as the golden age of the Chinese people, saw great territorial expansion and technological innovation. This Dynasty was so important that ethnic Chinese colloquially refer to themselves as the ‘Han race’ and Chinese characters as ‘Han characters.’ But I don’t want to visit to watch empires being carved out of modern-day Korea and Vietnam, neither do I wish to see the invention of paper or the seismometer, no. I want to go see my relative Liu Bang, the founder of the dynasty itself. For on my mother’s side (her maiden name is Liu), I trace my family line back over two thousand years.

At this point, you may be pondering whether my rationale has anything to do with science or science fiction. The answer is nothing. Curiosity as well as pride in my familial lineage drives my response, and I’m not ashamed of it. Not one bit.

Sean Justin Lee

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