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At the start of episode 12 of Steins;Gate, Okarin and Mayuri have time traveled 70 million years into the past. They are in an arid desert environment which appears to be the inside of an hourglass. Mayuri says that you could say that they are just one of many versions of themselves, but you could also say that they were the originals. Shortly before dissolving into sand, she says that their wills will carry on to the versions of themselves in Akihabara 70 million years in the future.

In the future, Okarin snaps out of a daze, like he does when he time leaps. Does that imply that Okarin remembers the incident? Was the incident symbolic? If this was one of Okarin's attempts to save Mayuri, why didn't it happen in the alpha/beta/gate timelines?

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    I'm not sure, but I guess it was a dream. – looper Jul 26 '13 at 20:07
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    Okarin's turning-to-gel nightmare was framed quite differently, though. – James Jul 26 '13 at 22:25
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Steins;Gate sort of uses the many-worlds time travel theory referenced by John Titor. There are many discrete worldlines, like parallel universes. When Okarin leaps to the past, he is moving from one worldline to another; his actions do not affect the future in the worldline he leaped from, only the future of the one he is currently in. The worldlines exist independently. Kurisu talks about this briefly in episode 22, shortly before Okarin time leaps.

This is why Okarin and Suzuha can use the

time machine to travel to the past twice and not run into other time traveling versions of themselves; both times they traveled to the past they landed in a different worldline.

When we see the scene from 70 million years ago, we are seeing a version of Okarin and Mayuri who have traveled to the show's current worldline from a separate worldline we didn't see.

They would have had to travel using

Suzuha's time machine. SERN's experiments and Okarin's nightmarish memory showed that sending physical objects through time turns them into gel. The time machine appears to offer protection against this.

It is unclear why they traveled so far back into the past; perhaps the time machine malfunctioned.

Mayuri had to explain to Okarin that they were 70 million years in the past. Suzuha also lost her memory when using the damaged time machine. It is unclear why Mayuri retained her memory. Perhaps her reading ability is quite strong; she displayed knowledge of alternate worldlines on multiple occasions.

  • This is wrong, as stated in @Mandrake10's answer. Steins;Gate does NOT use the parallel universe theory. – Yuu May 5 '18 at 17:23
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James wrote,

Steins;Gate sort of uses the many-worlds time travel theory referenced by John Titor. There are many discrete worldlines, like parallel universes. When Okarin leaps to the past, he is moving from one worldline to another; his actions do not affect the future in the worldline he leaped from, only the future of the one he is currently in. The worldlines exist independently. Kurisu talks about this briefly in episode 22, shortly before Okarin time leaps.

but this is actually completely wrong.

It is explained in the VN thoroughly that only one world line exists at one time - which would always be the one Okabe is at. The other world lines are just possibilities that could exist, but they don't really. In the VN, Kurisu argues with Okabe, saying that if this was the case, then Okabe was literally a God. But frighteningly so, this is exactly the case. Okabe's actions reconstruct the one and only world every time. When Kurisu says that infinite world lines exist independently, she says it to make it easier for Okabe to

sacrifice her.

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The incident happened in the beta world line.

In 2011, just before the Third World War happens, Suzuha and Mayuri leapt into the past to August 21st 2010, to deliver the slap you see in Episode 23. They then tried to return to the future, but with the lack of fuel (the time machine only had the fuel to travel 336 days), the time machine malfunctioned and they ended up 70 million years in the past. This is the Mayuri you saw.

In 2025, after Okabe sent the Nostalgia Drive Mail (ND-Mail) to Episode 23's Okabe, he went after Mayuri and Suzuha in a time machine that was equipped to find other time machines by tracking the disruption in space-time continuum caused by Kerr Black Holes. He eventually ended up 70 million years in the past and is assumed to have found Mayuri. This is the Okabe you saw.

Whether the Okabe in the future remembers the event or not is uncertain though. None of the material confirmed nor denied it. But it is definitely not symbolic as it has happened.

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