RSS

The Bulletin

How to spot a time traveler

Posting in Technology

 

MichiganTechBroomball Wakasirk123 Wiki.jpg
When you attend Michigan Technological University, you can play broomball, or you can go indoors and hunt for time travelers.
 --

So you're certain that time travelers live amongst us, but you're not quite sure how to find them?

Then here's a top tip for you: Track their breadcrumbs on the Internet.

All you have to do is find one of their "prescient" postings about an event before the thing actually happened. The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns 20-to-7 on Dec 29, but Wally Warpspeed wrote accurately about the game's results and details on Dec. 10 on his Facebook page? Chances are Wally's your man.

Believe it or not, that's what physicists did at Michigan Technological University, The Register reported in  a story noting that Prof. Robert Nemiroff and PhD student Teresa Wilson trawled "blogs, social media, or other documents indexed by Google." 

Nemiroff and Wilson wrote about their project in detail on Arvix. The Register summarized: 

They focused on mentions of Comet ISON, and Pope Francis, as labels that would stand out if they turned up out of their proper chronology. Each of these was a sufficiently unique search term to eliminate false positives, and had a clear start date (for ISON, September 21 2012; for Pope Francis, 16 March 2013).

So, did Wally turn up? Did he? Did he? 

I'm afraid not. Nemiroff and Wilson concluded that if Warpspeed and his type are out there, then they're covering their tracks. (Reader's guide in case it wasn't clear: I made up the Dec. 10 example. Although the Steelers did indeed trounce the Browns on the 29th, Mr. W and his advanced knowledge are a pure figment of my imagination which in this case literally is warped--mh).

The sleuthing scientists are not giving up. The Register noted:

Getting desperate, the researchers have also asked time travellers, if they exist, to post to the hashtag “#IcanChangeThePast2” or “#IcannotChangeThePast2”, on or before August 2013. At the time of writing, no such posts have turned up.

I've had a look at the Michigan Technological University website. The school is way way way up north in the United States, poking into Canadian latitudes, on a peninsula that juts out into what today is one heck of a frigid Lake Superior.

I suppose there's not too much else to do there other than go gumshoeing for Dr. Who, unless you want to throw yourself into some frozen outdoor fun called broomball (see photo). 

Maybe Nemiroff and Wilson should travel to the Caribbean for a break.

Cover photo of time traveler plaque is from Museumpreneurs via Flickr. Photo of broomball at Michigan Technological University is from Wakasirk123 via Wikimedia.


— By on January 15, 2014, 3:28 AM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure