We're told throughout the movie that "the same matter cannot occupy the same space".

Yet, even after a few months it's very unlikely that there are many of the same atoms in your body that were there originally. You're constantly breathing out carbon dioxide, and most of the carbon in your body is cycled out for new carbon atoms very quickly. Even the calcium and phosphorus in your bones would be constantly replenished, as both are used in normal metabolism (not that anyone has bones on the outside of their bodies).

So what gives?

Here is a Youtube clip of the to-be-avoided event.

Best picture I could find:

enter image description here

  • 3
    This was one of the many plot holes in time cop that really made it a cheesy movie. – Mark Rogers Jan 18 '13 at 19:57
  • Your philotes remain the same, though.... – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 18 '13 at 20:15
  • 2
    I gave you +1 for humor. This is a parody of science fiction rather than a work of it. – King Friday Jan 18 '13 at 20:56
  • Your premise that our body recycles all of it's atoms seems suspect. – Don Simon Jan 18 '13 at 22:01
  • 4
    the same matter cannot occupy the same space is a plot hole. Different matter can't occupy the same space either. – Bill the Lizard Jan 18 '13 at 22:12

The answer is feedback.

We saw that when upstream-McComb got kicked in the face, his downstream version grew a scar, establishing that the upstream and downstream versions of him are linked through time. What happens if downstream-McComb injures upstream-McComb? A causal loop is formed, and with each iteration through the loop the damage becomes more severe because the effects compound. It doesn't matter how minor the injury is--- downstream-McComb bumping into upstream-McComb is more than enough--- the injury keeps happening to an increasingly damaged McComb. As the injuries mount, McComb is enveloped in agony and begins to thrash and fight, which only further compounds his injuries. The cycle of injury continues until McComb is pulped, pulverized and eventually reduced to an inert vapor when the time-linked molecules finally stop colliding. (The process should have left his clothes and the flashlight behind, though... can't really explain where those went.)

  • Pure speculation... but this actually sounds smart. Upvote (plus acceptance if no one else answers). There's no way the writers came up with this though. – John O Jan 18 '13 at 22:58
  • This is brilliant. – dodgethesteamroller Jun 26 '13 at 20:45
  • 1
    I don't really get this--there isn't any feedback loop since things that happen to the older version don't rebound and affect the younger one, it's a strictly one-way process. – Hypnosifl Jan 4 '15 at 0:44
  • +1 - Not a completely stable explanation, but I'll take it. – Omegacron Jan 9 '15 at 20:56
  • 1
    @Hypnosifl - think of it like this. Every time they touch, Bob 1.0 hurts Bob 2.0, which causes 2.0 to hurt 1.0. And since they're both touching EACH other, it becomes an infinite loop once it starts. Theoretically, you could stop it if you could separate them quickly enough, but it's much more fun to watch them scream and melt. – Omegacron Jan 9 '15 at 21:02

The time travel theory in Timecop is one of the best theories that exists. So basically, "Same matter cannot occupy the same space" is another way of explaining Pauli's Exclusion Principle.

Yes, the carbon dioxide particles we're exhaling are being recycled, but they aren't exactly the same particles. In this world, every single particle is unique because they have at least one different quantum number which makes them different than others.

So if you travel through time and try to replace a particle with its future self, it can't exist. Because time doesn't change matter, so they're basically the same thing, which doesn't obey the laws of physics.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.