Tuesday, May 5, 2009


 Part of Carruth’s legacy is the sub-culture his movie gave birth to. Primer fans love to discuss its details at length. They argue over which Abe is on the roof and which Abe is talking to which Aaron on the bench. There are hundreds of failed theories, just like the time line in the film. All of the wrong answers have led us to define the true solution. Aaron and Abe learn the solution to the feedback loop due to their errors with time travel. This is a method used most often by mathematicians; find the answer by eliminating the wrong answers. Mistakes lead to true discoveries. (The old ones are still at www.primermovie.com. I took mine down so that people would have to read the whole book. It was just too confusing on a forum board to organize a lengthy discussion. But I also had some discussions before that had some errors as well.)

Do all Primer fans accept this? I doubt it. Many staunchly defend the old theories that were discussed before the book was printed. Perhaps it is like the time lines left behind where Abe and Aaron still battle for control. When the book first was ready, I sent copies to the ten biggest Primer fans, like Vode, to insure that any mistakes were corrected. Also Shane and David Sullivan read the book as well, to get permission and since Shane had previously explained Primer to Dave.

Solving the puzzling array of time lines in ‘Primer’ can be viewed as a math problem. Carruth was an avid math student, so this should come as no surprise. Finding an answer to a problem is not enough. One must provide a proof for their answer. The proof for Fermat’s last theorem is 200 pages long. Most experts cannot understand it. Also, an answer may be accepted until an exception disproves the proof. For example, it was accepted as true that: 2ⁿ+1=P (a prime number). Except 2 to the 32nd power+1 is not a prime number. It is the product of 641 x 6700417. But it took a long time for someone to disprove the then accepted thesis.

Recursive series of prime numbers are special prime numbers beset with a unique quality. This is the case with the numbers 714 and 715. Both numbers are the product of prime numbers, yet they differ by only one, being sequential. So 714=2x3x7x17 and 715=5x11x13. When this was discovered it fueled a search for other similar numbers. How was it discovered? By a mathematician who was discussing Babe Ruth’s home run number 714 being broken by Hank Aaron’s record number 715. Discovered by a casual discussion of sports, not math. These numbers are called Ruth-Aaron numbers. Thus Aaron was the catalyst of a great discovery, and thus the name of our time machine inventor.

Abe and Aaron's battle for supremacy causes a rippling effect on their world. To illustrate: a farmer raising corn has a field infested with insects. He is advised to purchase birds. The birds are effective in eating all of the insects but soon they have very few bugs to eat and so they begin to eat the corn crops. The farmer imports insects which keep the birds from eating the corn. However, the cycle renews itself as the insects begin to overrun his fields. The farmer will only have a successful crop if he keeps the balance between the birds and the insects. Notice too, how Abe and Aaron both cause major problems in Primer. They also need to have a proper balance in the Primer universe.

"Now I have repaid any debt I might have owed you." You know all that there is to this wonderful film. Perhaps now you can understand how hard it is to explain this unique film to others.