Friday, April 1, 2011

Source Code

This is not a review of Source Code. I will be doing that as part of Reel Junkies Episode 92 next week. This, instead, is my thoughts on the science-fiction of the movie, with as little spoilers as possible. I will no doubt leak some info as this movie is basically a mystery on a couple fronts. There is some serious super-science here, but at least Dr. Rutledge mentions quantum mechanics at one point, to help out. I'm betting he's even using a Quantum Computer, but it is never discussed.

The previews really sell this movie as a shoddy piece of science, that you can go back into the last eight minutes of someone's life and poke around trying new things. This is part of that mystery, "who bombed a train?" How can you possibly go into a dead person's mind to live their last moments, then make different decisions on each iteration until you solve a mystery? This is the other part of the movie, and not told entirely to my satisfaction. Mainly because Dr. Rutledge and Goodwin didn't realize the ramifications of their project.

The term "Source Code" is a misnomer, as well as thinking of this as The Matrix. The Source Code project implies that a single mind can be transferred, not into a computer construct, but an alternate realty, or a parallel universe. But only if your brain map and physical attributes are similar to the victim in question. This is more in keeping with Timeline (except you stay "you" in the Michael Crichton movie) where time travel is only possible by jumping to another universe where Earth happens to be in a previous era. This means that no amount of tampering will affect your future, as you aren't even in your own universe (except all the parts where Timeline needed it for plot convenience).

Now we're in Fringe territory which only deals with two universes. And Colter Stevens repeats those last eight minutes in another reality several times. There's a lot to think about here. At no time have scientists claimed that the Many-Worlds Interpretation in Quantum Physics could produce identical universes. There has to be a difference, but what ever it is in Source Code, it appears that by merely being sent to tamper in a repeat of the time-line you are in fact creating or existing in a parallel world.

I don't know how to get from the last brain activity of a dead man to using it as a conduit for exploring a parallel Earth, but that's what this movie proposes. (Maybe Jet Li's The One can shed some light on this). It may be that our consciousness exists across multiple universes and that connection is utilized. There was appropriate technobabble and I did like it. Computers seemed to be involved and there might have been some kind of virtual dataspace for Colter Stevens to exist in between missions, but every indication implies he is in another universe, but so close to ours as to be indistinguishable.

These other Universes also have the same sets of people right down the Source Code project experimenters. Maybe one will always leap into the closest matching world. Any divergences may be his own actions. Colter creates Worlds that already exist. Since each version of Earth has the same bad ending for the train (not a spoiler, you see it in the previews) then the events that lead to using Colter to replace Sean Fentriss also happen, which in turn may mean a paradox is created where he is only traveling to parallel worlds that the Source Code project will be in. The snake may be consuming his own tail.

There is an interesting resolution that I won't spoil here, but leads to more parallel world questions. With all the super technology on display I would think the government could just watch movies of all the train victims until they saw something suspicious. Not bad, though, for a movie about finding a terrorist. It's never stated, but by trying to save one time-line, many time-lines will likely be saved. Every crew of every starship named Enterprise has had to deal with this at least once. (Well, except NCC-1701-B, unless someone were to go back in time to try to save Kirk).