A Tachyonic Antitelephone is a theoretical device, a thought experiment from physics history which allows the user to send messages back to his or her own past using faster than light particles called tachyons. A while back I decided to build a receiver. Being a fine art graduate however and lacking all but the most basic knowledge of physics and electronics, I required more than a bit of help. For the benefit of my past self, I’ll now outline how it’s done so I can send this message back in time and know how to do it:
Step 1: Go to Science Hack Day in DCU and pitch your idea. You’ll then meet Robert, Rebecca Yates, Jeffrey and Paul from TOG Hackerspace Dublin. They’ll spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to get your thermal printer to work with your Arduino while you sit and pretend to do things. At 2am you’ll get a tweet from Rebecca saying it works. You’ll think they’re all quite mad, but you’ll be very grateful.
Step 3: Go to UCD Physics Dept and talk to John Ronayne, a theoretical physics student. Together you’ll come up with a plausible physics model.
Step 4: Gather all your stuff – an old flat bed scanner (sourced from the TOG mailing list), some rotary dials, an ancient wine crate stolen from your other half, a beautiful 1950s Marconi valve radio (donated), various buttons and LEDs, a thermal printer (donated) and paper, and a polycarbonate sheet from a pile under the laser printer project in the craft room.
Step 5: Ask Gary of TOG to give you a hand with the electronics. He’ll hack the scanner and with Paul will help you figure out how to get it working the way you need it to:
Step 6: Rob will very kindly offer to help with the PCBs. You’ll get two – one for the dials and another to run everything else. They look like something from an Art Deco catalogue..
Step 7: Talk Rob and Rebecca into helping you with the code needed to run everything.
Step 8: Brutally attack the poor defenceless Marconi radio, stripping it of valves and holders (sorry Paul!)
Step 9: Design the top panel, and have it laser cut. Make up a lid shape using corner pieces and some old brass screws. Cut the polycarbonate to size.
Step 10: Oil the lid and stain the box (Christian from TOG will help make it look old with FIRE). Put everything together. Rebecca and Rob will write the structure of the code for you. You’ll mess about, break it, panic, fix it, break it again, panic again, fix it again. Then you’ll write the stories with your science-fiction-writing other half Eric. It’ll look great!
Step 11: Go to London and present to a packed room full of people. Here’s a video of what you should say:
Step 12: Go home and write this guide. Send it back to yourself, thus fulfilling the bootstrap paradox that made the entire project possible and closing the temporal loop. Have a nice lie down.
By: Sinead Mc Donald & Lots of other TOG members (Robert, Rebecca Yates, Jeffrey and Paul)