Spatial displacement

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Lorraine 1985
"We all make mistakes in life, children."
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Spatial displacement was an ability built into the improved DeLorean time machine, which allowed for the time traveler to travel through space instantaneously as would make the jump through time. Destinations were locked to Earth's sphere and numerous cities and regions could be visited outside of Hill Valley. It is assumed that when a destination was requested, its four-dimensional space-time coordinates were located and mapped out. It is still unclear if this ability made the car a true teleportation machine.

Some cities and regions visited by the time machine:

Behind the scenes

Because of the movement of the Earth (rotation, revolution about the Sun, and movement of the solar system and galaxy), the DeLorean Time Machine might already have needed to accomplish spatial displacement even before the first temporal displacement experiment. Doc Brown's calculations would have needed to take into account numerous variables even for Einstein to leave the parking lot of the Twin Pines Mall at 1:20 am and to appear on the same parking lot at 1:21 am. Theoretically, if there were no spatial displacement, temporal displacement would place the time machine at the same point in the universe that it had been in previously, rather than at the same location on Earth; and the Earth itself would not be at that same point in space [1]. Given the complexity of the mathematical equations simply for keeping the DeLorean in one relative location on Earth, such as Hill Valley, it is understandable that Doc had to work for additional years on spatial displacement calculations in order to move the DeLorean from one point on Earth to another and remain localized.

On the other hand, since the various movements of the Earth are not necessarily at an invariable or predictable speed or acceleration, are affected by other factors such as gravitational pull from other bodies, it seems unlikely that Doc could take all those variables into account, even if he had found a means of spatial displacement in 1985. Views from inside the time machine indicate that the DeLorean time machine is traveling through a portal that only "opens" when the machine reaches 88 miles per hour. Since time travel hasn't been discovered, it's plausible that the "unopened" portals within the space-time continuum are held in place by the Earth's gravity or by a physical force not yet proven. Another explanation is that the time machine is actually remaining in the same earthbound location for the one minute or 30 year period traveled, but in an immaterial physical state.



  1. Besides rotating at more than 1,000 miles per hour at the equator, the Earth travels at 67,275 miles per hour (or 1,121 miles per minute) along its orbit around the Sun, [1]; at 1:21 a.m., the DeLorean might reappear at the point that it had occupied at 1:20 a.m., but during that one minute, the Earth would have moved 1,121 miles away from that point as it progressed in its orbit.

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