The machine looked like a large overhead lamp. It emitted a bright violet beam, similar to the light seen during the discharge. According to Faraday, it could "unstick" a consciousness within time so that it could travel to different points within a subject's life, in the past or in the future. The device worked when it was set at 2.342 and oscillated at 11 hertz.
The frequency of "unsticking" episodes experienced by a subject's consciousness increased exponentially, and the more the subject's consciousness traveled in time, the shorter the duration of these episodes. Soon, an affected subject would suffer the effects of the condition known as "temporal displacement", resulting, in some cases, in a brain aneurysm.
According to Daniel Faraday, in order for a person to cope with the confusion of time travel, and stop the episodes, he needed to find a constant. A constant is a person, or an object, who can be found in both the present time and the time the person is traveling to. Once a person found his constant, events in both times would "course-correct". It is implied that a person must care deeply for his constant, presumably because the effect of finding a constant the person is unfamiliar with may increase confusion.