In the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, I remember there were aliens who had no sense of time. (It was a long time ago; forgive me if I get some details wrong!) I remember the commander trying to explain baseball to them:

the ball is pitched

the spectators don't know if the batter will hit it

if the batter does hit it, nobody in the stands or on the field knows what direction it will go


And that's why it's nice to have a sense of time and to not know what's going to happen. HOWEVER ... if the aliens really don't have time, and know everything, they could NOT HAVE THIS CONVERSATION. At the start of the conversation, they don't know a couple things. (Baseball & time.) During the conversation they learn about those things. If they were truly immune to time, and could travel to the past and the future and stuff, they would already know the baseball analogy and would already know the result of the conversation.

Your thoughts? Explanations? (Bad jokes?)

  • Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" has aliens from Tralfamadore who see all points in time simultaneously. When the protagonist asks them how the universe will end they tell him "We blow it up, experimenting with new fuels for our flying saucers. A Tralfamadorian test pilot presses a starter button, and the whole Universe disappears." Feb 14, 2014 at 0:21
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    During the conversation they learn about those things. - Perhaps they learned everything throughout time the at the instance when Sisko entered the wormhole. But what we are just seeing depicted in the way that the humans perceived them instead of how it was learned/perceived by the wormhole aliens.
    – Zoredache
    Feb 14, 2014 at 20:38
  • @Zoredache Oo! Cool! Feb 14, 2014 at 23:28
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    I think it was said the aliens had no sense of linear time, which isn't necessarily the same as no sense of time. - Us not being restricted in our 3 dimensional movement doesn't mean we have been everywhere, or are everwhere, or know things about everywhere. - So in a similar way it might be possible that aliens who can move freely in time don't necessarily know everything that ever happened. To find out they would have to "go there".
    – Oliver_C
    Feb 18, 2014 at 14:25
  • This is similar to Dr. Manhattan's state of being from WATCHMEN. See my question here which addresses similar ideas.
    – eidylon
    Apr 18, 2014 at 3:32

3 Answers 3


First of all the idea that time is different for wormhole-beings makes some sense: modern physics theoretically allows wormholes to connect different places in space-time, so one end can be in the past, one in the future.

Now, here's my interpretation: The wormhole-beings dont know that they didn't know. They have actually a worse perception of time than we have. Imagine their brains like a computer into which you store facts but dont record the time at which the fact was added, also it can not form memories of its own. At every point in time it seems to it as if it had always known.

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    Wow, that's trippy! Up-vote for an intelligent, creative answer. Feb 14, 2014 at 23:27
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    Nice Answer. It kind of reminds me of Flatland. But instead of being about a two dimensioned entity learning about a 3D world, it is about difference in time perception.
    – Zoredache
    Feb 15, 2014 at 0:28
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    @Zoredache ... Some claim time to be the fourth dimension. With that in mind, this would be just like Flatland, only with the Third dimensional people trying to understand the fourth (a lower order trying to understand the next higher order). Yes, very trippy. Feb 15, 2014 at 3:05
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    You deserve more explanation than the flag comment - the question was asked here, its perfectly on topic as it relates to a TV show. There are various meta questions relating to this, for example meta.movies.stackexchange.com/questions/2/scifi-movies-overlap
    – iandotkelly
    Apr 17, 2014 at 13:23

You hit the paradox on the head.

To beings that exist outside of 3 dimensions (and assuming time is the next dimension) any interaction is already both presumed to occur and presumed to not occur.

Reality for us is still based in 3 dimensions with time constantly moving forward. Our reaction is like the batter and spectators from our perspective...we see and calculate strike or hit and if hit to where.

To a being not set in our perception of time, there is an infinite number of ways the bat will miss the ball (including not being pitched and the reason if it is pitched), and if struck an infinite number of ways the ball will travel.

But in talking to the "timeless aliens" we have changed things for us. Our reality includes the discussion, so regardless if they exist in multiple possibilities, our reality is that "the ball was pitched."

A simpler version is, assuming we asked, did they respond, what does that response mean?


To have the conversation with Sisko, a linear being, they have to project a linear version of themselves. This projection of course would not know about linear beings/baseball at first and then learn about these things. They have always known about baseball and linear beings, except at that exact instant of which they learned it. Specifically, that whole conversation would be a single point in 4D projected onto Sisko's 3D plain of existence. So they never did not know about Baseball, except for one point in their lives between time (a point has absolutely no length, so it does not take up a second or some other small time period it takes up exactly 0 time, relative to their 4D existence).

So they were aware of linear time/baseball, as much as past or future tense can be applied to them. And they were somehow aware of when in linear time they learned this. And they were somehow able to project themselves into 3D space to have this conversation.

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