A brief post to keep this ticking over, but recently I've had a geeky thought probably from watching too much Battlestar Galactica*. In the show the ships are able to make "jumps" across space exceeding the speed of light. This made me think if we could "jump" away from Earth, but still within an unobstructed view of it then we would essentially be looking at a past Earth, potentially much older than present. Better still if we could magnify our image to a high enough resolution, and through gaps in the clouds, we ought to be able to see what was going on at the surface and hence ultimately get the best picture of past life we're ever likely to see. OK, OK, we can't make supra-light speed jumps and currently we can't even get high enough (i.e. literally "life-size") resolution of nearby objects like the Moon. However, there is a theoretical possibility of achieving the former through something like an Einstein-Rosen bridge - the plot vehicle used in Deja Vu - and our imaging could still get a lot better, e.g. even correcting for the bending of light by gravitational bodies between the viewer and the (past) Earth.
What's more if we could continually traverse away from the planet at supra-light speed instead of stills we could actually get a (greatly speeded up) movie of life in reverse. Of course, being a palaeontologist I'm thinking of things like dinosaurs - we could know once and for all what killed them, but there would be immense scope for viewing human history too. The possibilities are almost endless (if restricted to plan view). Am I the first person to think this? Anyone out there from Hollywood want to buy the rights off me?
* no spoilers please - I'm only up to season 4.