What Came First – The Chicken Or The Egg? The Bootstrap Paradox


Suppose that one day someone rings your doorbell. When you open your door you see that there is no one at the door. As soon as you are about to close the door you see a book lying on your doorstep. You open the book and see that it is a manual on how to build a Time Machine, thinking of it as a joke you put it away.

One day, out of curiosity you open the book and start reading its content. The more you read, the more achievable it seems. You finally decide to give it a shot and start building the Time Machine. It takes you 50 years to complete it but you are finally finished. You nervously start the machine, the only date that comes to your mind was when the book was left for you. You start the machine and it works, you are now 50 years in past.

You become curious as to who was it that left the book for you. After waiting for a long time you become anxious and leave the book at your doorstep. In the past, you comes out and takes the book inside.


This is where the paradox begins, now the question remains that where did the book come from. If you received it from yourself then who wrote it, certainly you didn’t because it was given to you. The Bootstrap paradox questions the occurrences that happen in a loop but doesn’t have any definite starting point.

Photo by Jakub Novacek on

A similar example of this paradox is the old debate of who came first, the chicken or the egg. Although the obvious reasoning for this debate would come through the theory of evolution. But if time travel was to become a possibility then the paradox might shatter the theory of evolution as well.

Photo by Alison Burrell on

Although it is just a theory, and might never come through. If it was to come true then there exists a solution for this paradox. That solution will rely upon the existence of parallel universes. The scenario would be that when you started the machine you went back in time in a parallel universe. Since you were in a parallel universe there doesn’t exist such a book that has a manual on building a time machine. Such a scenario can repeat an infinite number of times if we believe the string theory that suggests that there can be an infinite number of parallel universes.

Even if we were to believe the above theory then we are bound to run into another problem. That problem would be the sustainability of the book. If it takes you 50 years to build your machine then the book is sure to wear out even if very little. This process when occurs a couple hundred times which is a lot then there would come a time when no one would be able to read the book. The book would wear out so much that it would disappear.


Even if someone is to argue that the book can be copied, even then human errors are bound to happen at some point. Sadly, there is no explanation for the sustainability problem. So, our journey ends here. A point would come when the book would not be passed down anymore.

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