One day not too very long ago I was talking with one of my sons (I won’t say which one, so as to try to avoid any undue embarrassment – although he’d probably tell you that ship sailed a long time ago), who in between sips of chocolate milk shared a most interesting hypothesis with me.

“Sometimes,” he said in a voice so earnest I just knew he was pulling my leg, “I get the feeling that the Universe was created by time travel.”

I put down the magazine I was reading and gave him a look that I’m pretty sure approximated the expression on my own parents’ faces years ago when I told them I wanted to grow up to become a struggling reporter rather than a rich doctor or lawyer. “Time travel, you say,” I said. “That’s not quite the way I remember it from my Sunday school classes.”

“Yeah, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s really out there,” he acknowledged. “But the more I think about it the more I think I might be on to something.”

“Well, then,” I responded. “By all means, please elucidate.” Then I crossed my arms and beamed brightly, proud of myself for finally having managed to work the word “elucidate” into a conversation after 20-plus years of seeking such an opening.

“All right, here goes,” my son said. He paused long enough to take another swig of his chocolate milk before laying his evidence on the imaginary table before us. “Let’s say for the sake of argument that you yourself have a time machine...”

I immediately interrupted him. “Is it a DeLorean like Michael J. Fox used, or that really cool machine Rod Taylor built in George Pal’s movie version of The Time Machine?” 

“Does it matter?”

“Well, I suppose not in the grand scheme of things,” I admitted. “But if I am going to go to all the trouble of become a chronic argonaut I’d like to do it in something with a little more flair than a souped-up buggy marketed by a disgraced drug-abusing millionaire.”

“You can use whatever kind of time machine you want,” he said with the slightest trace of a sigh. “Now let’s say that you decide to use your time machine to visit the future. You go forward just a few years at a time at first. During the voyage you are nearly killed by flying cars, pursued by various robots and alien visitors, and finally show up just in time to see Charlton Heston cuss out a talking orangutan before falling over dead on the control panel that detonates the doomsday bomb.”

I shook my head. “I don’t know,” I told him. “Doesn’t sound like much of a vacation.”

He ignored me and went on. “In the nick of time you throw the switch in the other direction and travel back to visit the past.”

“Good,” I said. “My first stop will be to rig the voting in 1978 so that Star Wars wins the Best Picture Oscar instead of Annie Hall...”

“No, no, no,” the boy scolded. “You’re only allowed to watch history, not change it. You can have lunch with President Kennedy, watch the Battle of the Alamo - from a safe distance, of course – visit ancient Atlantis...”

“Which one?” I ask. “Aquaman’s Atlantis, or the birthplace of the Oparian colonists?”

“Visit them both, what do I care?” he growled. “You can visit all your favorite historical sites if you want, and maybe even watch the meteor wipe out the dinosaurs.”

“I’m still waiting for the Creation part,” I said. 

“I’m getting to that. Now suppose that, being a good journalist, you decide to travel back to witness the moment the universe created. But as you arrive you catch a fleeting glimpse of an entire convoy of time travelers, all with the the same idea and arriving at the same time/space coordinates as you. And in that fleeting microsecond before you wink out of existence it occurs to you that OF COURSE anyone throughout history who had created a time machine would have at some point had that very same idea to see the beginning of time, and that they all would arrive at that exact same moment instantaneously.”

I considered his notion for a moment. “So you’re saying that the Big Bang was actually created by a convoy of time machines all unexpectedly arriving at the same moment in time and space?” 

He nodded. “It’s possible,” he answered. 

“But,” I objected, “wouldn’t any device sophisticated enough to move through time and space come equipped with some sort of automatic sensors whose main purpose would be to avoid just such a collision?”

“Yes,” he said. “But those sensors would be ineffective in this particular instance. After all, at that point there is only ONE space/time coordinate. So where else are they going to go?”

That’s when I got up and walked into the kitchen, and told his mother in no uncertain terms that he was not allowed to drink any more chocolate milk just before bedtime...