Bill and Ted's Excellent Time Travel Infographic

We're told by physicists that travel back in time is probably impossible. But that hasn't stopped people from imagining time travel scenarios. Really, the science is besides the point: Time travel stories are actually parables of interdependence.

That is, the stories reveal the hidden consequences of our actions, both individual and collective; no one is every an island, these stories say -- instead, we live on a web of life that links each one of us with the past and the future. Sever a strand of the web, and someone, somewhere, will fall. Build new strands, and we help hold each other up.

Take, for example, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. In this 1989 classic, time traveler George Carlin introduces clueless teen stoners Bill and Ted to the idea that their actions in the present will help shape the future -- indeed, it seems the music of Bill and Ted's band, the Wyld Stallyns, will form the basis of a utopian society, one inspired by the principle that we should all "be excellent to each other." That could be the tagline for!

Now Alice Cho, Dominic Busby, and David McCandles have done us all a great service. They have created a totally awesome infographic of time travel in TV and movies:


Can't read it? Here's the really big version.

There's a lot I like here, from the color coding of time travel methods (purple is "deep freeze"!) to the mash-up paradoxes -- "Marty McFly meets the Star Trek crew and both battle The Terminator." I wanna see that movie.

But the most interesting thing about this graphic is its backstory. On the "Information is Beautiful" blog, McCandles takes the reader step by step through the collaborative process behind the graph, a kind of case study in shareable creation. Thanks, guys.

And thank you, GOOD!