A Sound of Thunder

by Ray Bradbury

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What are three precautions that Time Safari, Inc. has taken to prevent any altering of the future in "A Sound of Thunder"?

In "A Sound of Thunder," Time Safari, Inc. requires hunters to remain on a floating path to avoid stepping on the prehistoric forest floor and accidentally killing insects, plants, or flowers. The company also makes hunters shoot a designated dinosaur that is close to death to avoid disturbing the natural order of life. Time Safari, Inc. also removes all evidence of their expedition, including the bullets inside the dinosaur's corpse.

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In "A Sound of Thunder," Ray Bradbury explores how apparently minor changes in the past might create catastrophic changes to the future. With this in mind, Time Safari has set up various safeguards to prevent unintentional contamination of the timeline. For one thing, it has set up a metal path above the prehistoric earth for its time travelers to walk on, with the hunters being warned not to leave it for any reason. As Travis, the safari guide, explains,

It floats six inches above the earth. Doesn't touch so much as one grass blade, flower or tree. It's an anti-gravity metal. Its purpose is to keep you from touching this world of the past in any way.

Additionally, the company is careful to only select animals that would have already died regardless of any time travel. Before the hunters arrived, the company had sent another employee, Lesperance, to track the animals across the course of their lives. As Lesperance states:

When I find one that's going to die when a tree falls on him, or one that drowns in a tar pit, I note the exact hour, minute and second. I shoot a paint bomb. It leaves a red patch on his hide. We can't miss it. Then I correlate our arrival in the Past so that we meet the Monster not more than two minutes before he would have died anyway. This way, we kill only animals with no future, that are never going to mate again.

Indeed, the hunters are barred from taking physical trophies (although they can have a photo taken of themselves standing next to the animal). Finally, the bullets are collected and brought back with them.

In addition, before Eckels travels back in time, he is forced to sign a waiver. In the course of his conversation with the Time Safari employee, we observe the employee trying to intimidate him, testing his nerve. Thus, we read this exchange:

A Tyrannosaurus rex. The Thunder Lizard, the damndest monster in history. Sign this release. Anything happens to you, we're not responsible. Those dinosaurs are hungry.
Eckels flushed angrily. "Trying to scare me!"
Frankly, yes. We don't want anyone going who'll panic at the first shot.

Even before the hunters travel into the past, there does seem to be an attempt to weed out those clients who might be inclined to spook or panic.

Of course, here it should be noted: if this act of intimidation were to be counted as a precaution, it is entirely insufficient, given this is specifically what happens with Eckels himself, who panics when faced with the dinosaur. Additionally, you should keep in mind Travis's own unprofessionalism when, driven by anger, he forces Eckels to return to the dinosaur and dig out the bullets himself. Given the stakes involved with time travel, this is a dangerously reckless action on Travis's part, which only introduces the potential for further contamination of the past.

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In Ray Bradbury's celebrated short story "A Sound of Thunder," Eckels participates in a Time Safari, which takes him sixty million years into the past to hunt a Tyrannosaurus rex. Time travel is a risky business, and the hunters threaten to dramatically alter the future by changing the past over the course of their expedition. Simply stepping on a prehistoric insect could have drastic ramifications and significantly transform the course of human history. This idea is known as the chaos theory or butterfly effect. In order to prevent the hunters from accidentally changing the past, Time Safari, Inc. takes several notable precautions.
In the prehistoric jungle, Time Safari, Inc. has set up a futuristic hovering path, which is suspended in mid-air above the ground. The hovering path prevents the hunters from setting foot on the forest floor, where they could step on insects or accidentally kill prehistoric vegetation. Another precaution the company takes is their identifying dinosaurs moments before they die so that they will not disturb the natural order of life. Lesperance elaborates on this precaution by saying,
I track them through their entire existence, noting which of them lives longest. Very few. How many times they mate. Not often. Life's short, When I find one that's going to die when a tree falls on him, or one that drowns in a tar pit, I note the exact hour, minute, and second. I shoot a paint bomb. It leaves a red patch on his side. We can't miss it. Then I correlate our arrival in the Past so that we meet the Monster not more than two minutes before he would have died anyway. This way, we kill only animals with no future, that are never going to mate again.
The third precaution Time Safari, Inc. takes is removing any trace of their existence in the past before leaving. For example, Travis makes Eckels remove the bullets from the dinosaur's corpse before they travel back to the present. Overall, Time Safari, Inc. requires the hunters to remain on the floating path, to only shoot the designated dinosaur, and to remove any evidence of their expedition before leaving.
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In "A Sound of Thunder," Ray Bradbury presents a future society in which time travel is possible. In order to prevent any altering of future events by visiting the past, precautions are taken. Time Safari, Inc, the company that runs dinosaur hunting safaris, takes strict measures not to affect anything in the past that may have an impact on the future.

The first precaution that they take is that everyone participating in the safari must not step off of the anti-gravity path that they have installed.  This is to ensure that not one blade of grass is disturbed by their presence because the effect could be exponential through time.

The second precaution involves the manner in which they kill the dinosaurs. A preliminary trip is made to identify which dinosaur is about to die.  Then, the safari goes back to that exact time and location and kills the dinosaur exactly when and where it would have died naturally.  This allows all the same bacteria and scavengers to access the carcass as it did millions of years ago. The bullets are even removed from the dinosaur so nothing new is introduced into the process.

The third precaution is that no trophies are allowed to be taken back to the present time.  This is, again, so the dinosaurs decompose the same way they did millions of years ago avoiding a ripple effect through time.  The safari participants are only allowed to take home a picture of themselves with their kill.

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