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Searching the Internet For Evidence of Time Travelers 465

Posted by samzenpus
from the bill-and-ted-approved dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Here's an interesting paper by two physicists at Michigan Technological University who have come up with a practical methodology for finding time travelers through the internet. 'Time travel has captured the public imagination for much of the past century, but little has been done to actually search for time travelers. Here, three implementations of Internet searches for time travelers are described, all seeking a prescient mention of information not previously available. The first search covered prescient content placed on the Internet, highlighted by a comprehensive search for specific terms in tweets on Twitter. The second search examined prescient inquiries submitted to a search engine, highlighted by a comprehensive search for specific search terms submitted to a popular astronomy web site. The third search involved a request for a direct Internet communication, either by email or tweet, pre-dating to the time of the inquiry. Given practical verifiability concerns, only time travelers from the future were investigated. No time travelers were discovered. Although these negative results do not disprove time travel, given the great reach of the Internet, this search is perhaps the most comprehensive to date.' Stephen Hawking's similar search (video) also provided negative results."
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Searching the Internet For Evidence of Time Travelers

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  • Whew. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kaenneth (82978) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:08AM (#45854207) Homepage Journal

    Haven't been found out yet!

    • Re:Whew. (Score:5, Funny)

      by melikamp (631205) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:12AM (#45854217) Homepage Journal
      Of course not. Whenever anyone gets "found out", a sexy brunette time-policewoman goes back in time an fixes it. Permanently.
    • And not all of us do time travels all the time. :)

      • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:43AM (#45854339) Journal

        ... I did experience some kind of "reality bending", about 9 minutes prior to the earthquake that triggered the tsunami in Japan.

        The date was April 11, 2011.

        It was 16.07 local (Singapore) time, as I was in Singapore for a business meeting.

        I was sitting in front of a computer display typing away, inside a hotel room. The desktop computer was provided by the host, and it was plugged into the net. The computer clock had just been synced with some online atomic time at noon time (some 4 hours ago).

        For some reason I felt something weird, nothing moving, but I felt that something is not right. I look out of the windows (it was a high-rise hotel, and my room was in the 23 or 24th floor) and I witnessed "reality bending".

        I can't really describe it, but what I saw was the window frame and the concrete pole "bend", not unlike what the "bending images" of some old vhs tapes where part of the scenes got scattered to one side.

        That weird sensation only lasted a few seconds and the first thought that came across my mind was that there was an earthquake.

        Since Singapore is located very near to earthquake zone, I expected that something gonna shake and was waiting to see if the shaking gonna be big and if that I have to evacuate from the hotel room.

        But nothing shook.

        So instinctively I look at the computer clock. It showed 16:07.

        I sat there for a minute or two, waiting for some "signs" of shaking or whatever. Nothing.

        Satisfied that nothing gonna happened I continued what I was doing.

        A few minutes afterward, news started to trickle in over the net - a big quake in Japan, and later, a devastating tsunami.

        Till now I still can't explain what exactly happened, and why my first thought after I experienced that "bend reality" was a "earthquake".

        • by qwijibo (101731)

          Typical glitch in the matrix. Your story would be easier to explain if it happened in Amsterdam. =)

          One time, leaving a weekly lunch with friends, I commented that the weather was going to trigger the "earthquake weather" nut jobs. On my way back to work, there was a minor earthquake. It was under 5.0, so by California standards, it rates mention only on slow news days and ends up on the USGS daily summary. It would not have been memorable if the conditions didn't give me such a strong impression and if

          • by jemmyw (624065) on Friday January 03, 2014 @05:11AM (#45854635)

            Even though I'm strongly inclined towards the scientific mindset, these kinds of incidents strongly suggest there's a lot more going on than we understand.

            It doesn't really. You're just looking at your one event in isolation. What about all the other times earthquake nut jobs have been mentioned and there subsequently hasn't been a minor earthquake.

          • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@jwsm[ ]e.com ['yth' in gap]> on Friday January 03, 2014 @05:50AM (#45854765) Homepage Journal

            That's coincidence. People say all kinds of stuff all the time.

            If you're in Los Angeles, I'm sure you've looked at the USGS maps at least occasionally. If you have a week with no earthquakes, there's something wrong with the reporting. :)

            I stood on top of the WTC a few days before 9/11. I said to my friend "I wonder how they'll take these buildings down." It was a discussion on the deconstruction of it, since virtually every modern building has a finite lifespan, and will be replaced eventually. Explosive demolition was out, because it would cause too much damage to surrounding buildings, even under ideal circumstances.

            Now, did the fact that we were on top (observation deck, and roof) and said something like that show precognition? Not in any sort of way. People think and say all kinds of things all the time. Their memory also messes with them. We like to believe there is some sort of order to the chaos around us. In reality, we'll grasp at any two things and try to make a relationship between them.

            The reality to my pondering the WTC deconstruction was simply an interest in how things work. I like to look at something and try to understand how it works, how it was put together, and how it comes apart. I've learned an awful lot about a lot of things by just asking and researching them. So far, no others have suffered a dramatic demise.

            • by KingOfBLASH (620432) on Friday January 03, 2014 @06:18AM (#45854843) Journal

              The problem with any sort of discussion like this is if indeed ESP exists, it exists so weakly that you have no way of knowing if your "coincidence" is really just the outcome of randomness or a true premonition.

              • by JWSmythe (446288)

                I did read an excellent book a while back that discussed the possibility of ESP. The author firmly believed that it does exist. There's a section devoted to why it isn't present in modern society.

                While I'm not usually a big fan of woowoo, his arguments made sense.

                Imagine living in a more brutal time in our history. Someone in your neighborhood legitimately has "special" abilities, such as precognition. They would very likely be ostracized, ejected from the community, or killed. Regardless of the meth

            • by LordNacho (1909280) on Friday January 03, 2014 @07:37AM (#45855089)

              A buddy of mine wrote an essay in his international relations class about how airplanes could be used to take down the towers, a couple of weeks before it happened.

              But obviously those kinds of thoughts would be going through the head of someone who was doing a module on terrorism at the time. Just like it was going through the heads of the guys who actually did it.

              Same thing with "precognition" of relatives dying. The thought crosses everyone's mind at some point. Now and again, it coincides with reality.

              • A buddy of mine wrote an essay in his international relations class about how airplanes could be used to take down the towers, a couple of weeks before it happened.

                Oh, that's nothing. I heard that this guy, President of the United States, I believe, got this report 36 days before 9/11, and the title of it was (get this), "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."

                Creepy, huh?

        • by jimshatt (1002452) on Friday January 03, 2014 @05:07AM (#45854621)
          While your post has nothing to do with time travelers whatsoever, it's still interesting. I saw a documentary recently called "Something Unknown is Doing We Don't Know What...", where they had random number generators around the world. Previous to important global events, they seem to be generating less random numbers, that is, less homogeneously distributed. My explanation is that it has something to do with some kind of local entropy, because there are less states where that event happens then there are where the event doesn't happen. But how that somehow influences the RNGs beats me. If it isn't complete bullocks to begin with.
          I liked the documentary, but it failed miserably in even trying to explain the psy events the 'scientists' were researching.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Taco Cowboy (5327)

            While your post has nothing to do with time travelers whatsoever, it's still interesting.

            I posted what I posted in this "time traveling" story because I suspect (I do not have any proof, only suspicions) that something did travel back in time (about 7 minutes) and I just so happened to "encounter" one of the "side effects" of that "travel".

            There was nothing shaking, absolutely nothing to trigger my "earth is shaking" premonition but still, that very first thought that came across my mind after I witnessed that "bend reality" phenomanon was "earthquake".

            That thought came so naturally that even n

          • Are you referring to the Global Consciousness Project? [wikipedia.org] The research mentions RNGs. Criticism is also mentioned.
        • Till now I still can't explain what exactly happened, and why my first thought after I experienced that "bend reality" was a "earthquake".

          Confirmation bias happened? ;-)

        • With, let's see, about 7 billion people on the planet, there are probably hundreds who experience a coincidental hallucination like yours just before any major event of natural disaster, terrorist attack, etc.

          Without any object proof (really, without any proof whatsoever), your anecdote doesn't mean anything. It continually amazes me to see how easily people are led to believe in the occult, or in god, or that they had an extrasensory experience.
    • One might assume that a good time traveler would be aware that someone was doing this to search for them. Well, that's what you'd hope anyway...you wouldn't want just anyone traveling through time. Who knows what damage some temporally displaced dumbass with a sports almanac could do.

  • is somewhere in time

  • by mysidia (191772) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:17AM (#45854231)

    Posting such info could endanger the future, or risk causality paradox issues --- changing the future in such a way, that time travel is not discovered.

    Time travelers from the future are historians.... they may be tweeting, but they are tweeing about the past (our present), and possibly sending those tweets into the future.

  • by yayoubetcha (893774) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:18AM (#45854233)

    An experiment in time travel you can do on your own. Go to your favorite coffee shop at noon tomorrow with the idea that you will travel back in time to meet yourself there. If you meet yourself, it proves that time travel will be possible in the future. If you do not meet yourself, it proves that it doesn't.

    Of course, it could mean that it is too expensive for you, and you cannot afford to time travel. Perhaps you should not have wasted all tat time on slashdot.

  • Welp. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:20AM (#45854241)

    *speaks into cell phone*

    The Organization has infiltrated Slashdot. I am posting anonymously as a result.

    El Psy Congroo.

  • by some old guy (674482) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:34AM (#45854287)

    They did, however, find L. Ron Hubbard, Blackadder, and the Easter Bunny. Well worth the research!

  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:35AM (#45854289) Homepage Journal

    also having excellent spaceships. By excellent I mean able to accelerate to a significant percent of lightspeed.

    Say you wanna go back to 1920 and assassinate Hitler while he was a nobody and easy to get to. You build a time machine and POOF, you're in 1920. And you're also dead, since you're also in the vacuum of space... unless your time machine is also a spaceship. The earth is in a different position around the sun, and the sun has orbited to a different spot in the galaxy, and our galaxy has shifted position in the local group, and all this time the universe itself has expanded quite a bit.

    I have no idea how far from earth you would be if you time traveled from 2014 to 1920, but I'm guessing it would be measured in parsecs.

    • by buswolley (591500)
      What is this was the real sticking point in time travel? :)
    • I've time travelled from the 1970s to 2014, and I'm not dead ...

    • by ColaMan (37550) on Friday January 03, 2014 @05:07AM (#45854623) Homepage Journal

      Depends on how your time machine works.
      If it's a 'jump' or sudden discontinuity between one time and another, you're in trouble.

      If it's a 'linear' style time machine (a-la H.G. Wells) and you're merely pulling the 'flow of time' lever from it's rest postion of "Forwards at 1x speed" to something like "Backwards at 200x speed"..... then you're much more likely to remain attached to whatever continent you happen to be in.

    • Another Red Dwarf fan, I see...

    • There was a short story about this (I can't remember the title). The story was about travelling back to Jesus's time to verify Jesus's existence but the travelers found themselves in space as Earth was elsewhere.

      They had to travel ~220 million years back since that's the time the Solar system takes a turn around the galaxy's core and the Earth position would be the same when they started their travel.

    • by amaurea (2900163) on Friday January 03, 2014 @06:44AM (#45854925) Homepage

      You're assuming absolute positions here. In general relativity, it is equally valid to consider the Earth to be at rest, with the rest of the universe moving and rotating in a complicated fashion. But I agree that it doesn't make sense to think of time-travel only in terms of time - it's space-time that matters.

      In special relativity, the only way to travel to the past that I'm aware of is through superluminal motion, but general relativity is more flexible, and allows time travel by distorting space-time in inventive ways. Perhaps the most commonly considered time travel thought experiment in GR is via wormhole. Any wormhole potentially allows time travel: even a purely spatial wormhole can be turned into a temporal wormhole by using time dialation (from acceleration or gravity) to make less time pass for one exit from the wormhole than another. So one could, for example, make time machine by making a local wormhole (this step is left as an exercise for the reader), taking one end on a spaceship and making it orbit close to a black hole for a few years, and then bringing it back. If, say, 10 years passed for one end and only 5 years for the other, then entering the "old" end would let you exit 5 years earlier. But interestingly, one could not use this time machine to travel earlier into the past than when the wormhole was first created.

      Another interesting way of distorting space that has been investigated is the warp drive, which continuously distorts space around an object. This can be used both for superluminal travel or time travel by changing the parameters. The problem, though, for all these "distort spacetime to travel to the past" approaches is that to get the correct shape for the distortion requires matter with exotic properties such as negative energy density, which has never been observed.

      In common for all these time travel mechanisms is that they aren't simply "POOF, and you're there", they all involve continuous trajectories in space-time, and so don't have the problem you mentioned.

  • If you post about it, there will be a record of how we will find you. What you have to do is not tell anyone how you are looking, then not tell anyone when you -do- find them. That way, they will never find out in the future how they were fond in the past and try to avoid it when they travel back in time.

    Logically, since nobody has ever posted proof of time travelers, that means they must have found some.

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:36AM (#45854297)
    Have they looked for power surges of 1.21 gigawatts?
  • by bobthesungeek76036 (2697689) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:36AM (#45854299)
    I'm pretty much convinced that if one travels back in time, you would be by default in a different time continuum. Your mere presence in a past time would alter it such it will be forked from our own time line. So our "internet" will be oblivious to said time travelers. You would have to figure out a way to search all time lines "internets" to find such evidence. Good luck with that...
    • by ysth (1368415)

      Eddie's in the space-time continuum.

  • Not Ready to Quit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RNLockwood (224353) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:42AM (#45854327) Homepage

    I must admit to being time traveler. I started time traveling in 1939, inadvertently to be sure. I had no expectations that my travels would be as interesting as they have been nor as boring, from time to time, either. I've found it to be so addicting that I'm plan to keep on, and on for as long as I'm able.

  • So many millions of people have posted information to the internet. Is there algorithm so good it did not have a single false positive?

    • No false positives = a little too convenient.

              The utter lack of evidence is undeniable proof of a gigantic PLOT!

  • Re 4. Searching for Prescient Search Queries
    Would be fun for the http://cryptome.org/2014/01/nsa-codenames.htm [cryptome.org] lists
    2. Types of Sock puppets vs Time Travelers?
  • by SlithyMagister (822218) on Friday January 03, 2014 @03:56AM (#45854395)
    If anyone is seriously interested in Time Travel, the inaugural meeting of the Vancouver Time Travel association will be held last Tuesday at the planetarium.
  • Just as I thought. Nothing "insightful" will show up under this story
  • If I went back to the 1850's with today's technology I wouldn't send prescient telegraphs to my fellow time travelers, I'd use modern methods of communcations. It seems unlikely they'd turn to twitter or the internet if they are here.
    • It wouldn't necessarily have to be the time traveller posting the message. It could be someone they interact with from our time learning something (probably very mundane and not realising the significance) and making a post which references the new knowledge in some way.
  • An equally useful and scientifically valid effort.
  • The research assumes that time travellers would speak and only speak and tweet and post and blog... in the english language, doesn't it?
    èYè'--åç(TM)½å..."

  • because time is imaginary. It does not exist.

    Why physicists insist using Einstein's equations as a 'proof' of time travel is beyond me. It is the same as if one used Newton's equations for speeds faster than 0.6 c.

    In both cases the results are bogus as these equations were obviously not designed to handle these extreme cases.

    Do not forget that these equations try to describe reality and they do this with very great precision, but it does not mean reality itself 'runs' these equations.

    • The constant increase of entropy in the universe is real. Now you can call the process that allows that time or you could call it Kevin, it really doesn't matter. But it DOES exist and entropy DOES increase at different rates depending on relative speed and gravity and pretending it doesn't is simply being the physics equivalent of an Ostrich.

    • Time travel is because time is imaginary. It does not exist.

      Explain how you were able to post this message then. You are not allowed to use any time to do so.

  • by Mendy (468439) on Friday January 03, 2014 @04:19AM (#45854487)

    ...would have been found but there isn't a Twitter client for an IBM 5100.

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Friday January 03, 2014 @04:21AM (#45854499) Journal

    Time travel is such a plot destroyer, such a deus ex machina, it ought to be dropped from SF altogether, much the way psychic phenomena have. It is so overused and tame. The traveler goes back in time, and fixes the mistake without otherwise altering the future at all, then skips right back home to the future to find everything worked out exactly as desired. If they have a difficult time of it, they might have to make several trips back in time to fix the problems, but they of course succeed.

    Time travel is also, so far as we know, impossible. Star Trek can lean on the crutches of FTL and time travel, to speed the plots along, but it's not necessary. We can conceive of interstellar civilizations without such fantasy. It is quite possible to build a space ship that can carry us to a nearby star system over a period of thousands of years, and terraform a world for our use. We lack the technology to do it right now, but maybe, in a few more centuries, we can. Time travel does not look like it will ever be possible, and ought to be relegated to fantasy.

    • I recon you haven't read/seen Steins; Gate then. Exactly as desired my arse.

    • Time travel is such a plot destroyer, such a deus ex machina, it ought to be dropped from SF altogether,

      SPOILER WARNING. I thought as you did once, until I read Julian May's Many Colored Land, which opens in the not too distant but radically different future, and then jumps straight into the past, far removed from the current timeline, to the Pleistocene epoch. I liked her trilogy where explorers and misfits who didn't fit in the future sought to explore a simpler time in the distant past, before humans had yet formed. So, I continued to read her books, the next was Intervention, which happens in near pas

  • Dupe!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by waynemcdougall (631415) <slashdot@codeworks.gen.nz> on Friday January 03, 2014 @05:22AM (#45854673) Homepage

    This is totally the same article as the one posted on the 5th!!

  • Twin towers on Johnny Bravo: http://tinyurl.com/pvblodn [tinyurl.com], however I'm sure it's a cloud, something photoshopped/gimped or 'not meant to be that'. Intriguing to look at images that 'shouldn't' be too though.
    • FWIW, I count only one tower. And burning/exploding skyscrapers is hardly a concept that was kicked off with 9/11, never appearing in action movies prior - I can think of two movies featuring them off the top of my head, from the 1970s and the 1980s.

      It's a generic action movie poster featuring a generic action movie scene.

  • I knew they were going to try this. ;-)

  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <(VortexCortex) ( ... -retrograde.com)> on Friday January 03, 2014 @06:53AM (#45854951)

    They're only checking this reality? Not all the other ones as per the Many Worlds interpretation? OK, so if the many worlds interpretation is correct, and some one invents a time travel device in the future and travels back in time, then we will not find them here. You see, everything that can happen does -- Time travel into the past splits the time line as Good 'ol Doc Brown told you.

    Now, time travel to the future is more than possible, you're doing it right now, and in fact, GPS has to deal with future time drift: Satellites experience less gravity so their clocks run into the future faster than ours. Just get next to a large gravitational mass for a while, and if you can survive to make it back home, you'll be further into the future than us. To the observers you're just gone in the interim.

    However, time travel to the past would be more tricky. When you arrive at a past point in time the interactions you make cause the universe to split, as it does for every interaction. The time-line where the time machine will be created and you will travel back in time remains untouched, and a new series of events unfold. Unfortunately for Doc Brown's plot, you could easily prevent your mom and dad from dating and it wouldn't cause you to disappear -- Because they're dating elsewhere in another universe that you will be from in the future, thus eliminating any paradox.

    One could think of the paradox resolution through predestination as well. The probability of you traveling back in time to do the split was already encoded in the state of the universe that allows you to do so. When looking at the time-line hierarchy, as a whole there were events leading up to the discovery of time travel and those universes up to those points all had probability for your splitting of them by returning to them, so by the time you got in the time machine, you had already done the things in the past. From a single time tree moving forward, as time marched forward you would see time travelers appearing and branching off from the time-lines where time travel would become possible up to and beyond the invention of the time machine, this way your single destination still has its quantum probability distribution of when and where to arrive.

    So, if you are waiting for time travelers and they don't show up, it could be that they are all showing all around you in separate universes, and this is the universe from which the time machine will first be invented. In other words: You could send yourself yesterday's lottery ticket, but that ticket would exist in an alternate time and you'd remain just as poor as you are in this universe, in some other universe you may get all (or only most) of the lottery numbers correct (depending on if your interaction caused the numbers probabilities to change). If you could maintain stream of information to the past you could call yourself up, and have a conversation, and the current you wouldn't remember being called, and the past you may never get around their past self. This is no paradox in the Many Worlds interpretation.

    However, I'm not convinced that interpretation is correct. It hints at mock-free will through predestination of every possible outcome, but it would mean the infinite dissipation of energy for the encoding and processing of all outcomes would be strangely detached from reality. I think it far more feasible that things like quantum "teleportation" will work out to be far more mundane than they first appear -- Hint: the "tele" in "teleportation" has to do with transmitting information, and the teleport is not faster than light... Entropy would seem to suggest that travel to the past in a single time-line would take as much (and more) energy as all the events that led up to the present. However, I have a corner of the house that's always empty the event that I'm wrong since our dreams have often proven more powerful than reality.

  • We are not enough to type really at random all shakespeare works, but we are enough to put things that end being true in the middle of all spam, jokes, typos, tales, car analogies, several musings, and, in particular, random "predictions" that we put in internet every minute. If you find deep enough, buried in the mountain of garbage, will be some gold, but that is because the amount of garbage, not because someone intentionally created gold. If enough people write numbers at random around 16000 some could

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Friday January 03, 2014 @10:14AM (#45855845) Homepage

    I have been traveling through time since I was born, forwards, at very large portions of C relative to the third planet from your sun. In fact, I have traveled over 35 years since I was born, its been quite a wild ride.

  • by swb (14022) on Friday January 03, 2014 @11:35AM (#45856727)

    ...for a movie or a novel.

    Some search engine software engineer testing a new search algorithm somehow starts finding information in search results that contradicts the dates information was actually known. Engineer thinks its a bug in his algorithm, but can't find the bug and starts investigating the anomalous results and using them as a starting point discovers time travelers/time travel conspiracy/aliens/whatever.

  • by PPH (736903) on Friday January 03, 2014 @01:06PM (#45857871)

    ... they should be finding evidence of a lot of con artist prognosticators plus some people whose PC clocks are set incorrectly.

    The con artists make a whole batch of 'predictions' and then disavow responsibility for those that don't come true. This is made easier by the anonymity of the Internet. Make predictions, each under a pseudonym. And then only prove ownership of the names that made the correct guesses.

  • by socz (1057222) <socrates@@@ghettobsd...org> on Friday January 03, 2014 @01:20PM (#45858009) Homepage Journal

    What a coincidence or premonition of my buddy, McGrew, who wrote a book about this exact subject! He says it was inspired by Slashdot itself so what perfect timing. I'm hooked on reading it and recommend* it... Check out here to purchase or read online as he is releasing a chapter a week on-line for free.

    http://www.mcgrewbooks.com/ [mcgrewbooks.com]

    On Sale Now
    Hardcover $24.95
    6x9 168 pages
    ISBN 978-0-9910531-0-0

    *I am not being paid or compensated in any way to promote his book and have no direct ties to it other than having "friended" McGrew on /.

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