In the movie 12 Monkeys, when James Cole was sent back in time for the second time, they sent him by mistake to the WW1 era. But I think the place where they sent him was not in USA, but in Europe and people spoke on some other language, like German. Does it mean that time travel includes space travel too?

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    Even when they did send him to the correct time and place (Philadelphia and Baltimore), he appeared above ground and in different locations. So clearly space travel is required even if you assume it automatically adjusts for Earth's continuous motion through space. May 7, 2015 at 1:31
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    @DavidHarkness Cool point about Earth's continuous motion through space! So it makes sense that if you are just transported back in time but not in space, you could literally find yourself floating and gasping for air in outer space, or even falling from a huge height in earth's atmosphere. You have to calculate Earth's rotation and motion around the sun AND also calculate the distance to be travelled physically before 'travelling'. There's also the problem of changing landscapes and buildings etc. You could find yourself appearing in the middle of a concrete pillar, for example.
    – a20
    Jul 20, 2017 at 3:20

1 Answer 1


It would seem logical to me that any form of time travel would imply spacial travel as well. The earth is constantly rotating on its axis and orbiting the sun. If you traveled through time but not space (i.e. ended up in the same exact point in space) then you might end up in the vacuum of space, or even the interior of the earth.

That being said, if the scientists in the future sent him back to the wrong time, it's logical to say that their miscalculation would have landed him in the wrong position in space as well.

See the section titled Time Travel or Spacetime Travel on the Wikipedia article Time travel for more information.

  • There is no absolute space coordinates. If they used coordinates regarding Sun, and send him to wrong time by mistake, most probably he should be out of Earth, in free space. Most probably they should use Earth coordinates, in this case he should be in the same place on the Earth.
    – Alexan
    Jul 27, 2013 at 17:16
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    "Most probably they should use Earth coordinates" - This implies that they can choose the coordinates and this in turn would mean they could very well make a mistake in choosing those (which could send him to Europe). If they couldn't change his position at all, then they couldn't use Earth coordinates either and the only position Cole could land at was either random (which wouldn't be that good an idea at all) or the exact same absolute space position.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jul 27, 2013 at 17:28
  • What is exact same absolute space position? It doesn't exist according to Theory of relativity.
    – Alexan
    Jul 27, 2013 at 17:41
  • @Alex Meh, be it so.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jul 27, 2013 at 18:03

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