By Saiyed M. Fauzan Ali
Wouldn’t it sound great if someone told you that you could actually travel into the future and discover the wonders that science has produced in that time? How would you like to get a chance to travel 66 million years into the past and get a cool selfie with a real-life dinosaur just to post it to your Instagram account? Wouldn’t it be lovely to get a chance to fix the past and alter our future? These questions sound enthralling; however, time travel has always been merely a staple of science fiction whether it’s related to travel into the future or to the past. That is until; various accounts started propagating over the media, press and the internet of people who have purportedly traveled through time. These tall tales circulating widely over the media have caught the attention of many scientists, physicists and numerous bloggers including mine. These puzzling stories strike up a question in our minds, has science really found a way? Or are these simply hoaxes meant to gain public attention? Sounds like a mystery to me.
Technically speaking we all regularly time travel. However, the movement is in one direction only, that is into the future. We all move into the future one second at a time. Nevertheless, there are proven theories out there that point out the fact that we can go faster. Paul Sutter, a famous astrophysicist at the University of Ohio State presented a theory based on Einstein’s special relativity theory and argued that time is comparatively dependant on how fast an object is moving. For instance, time slows down for a fast-moving object in space. This connotes that astronauts traveling in space at 5 miles per second would age somewhat slower than their twin counterparts here on earth. This is called the twin paradox. Similarly, Einstein’s general relativity theory allows time travel to the past under very odd scenarios, like requiring negative mass or infinitely long rotating cylinders. However, these scenarios disturb other known laws of physics. I honestly don’t understand why the mathematics of general relativity theory allows time travel, but on the other hand, the other known laws of physics interfere to ruin all the fun. Nevertheless, scientists are determined to find a way. For instance, Ali Ovgun a famous physicist at the Cyprus Eastern Mediterranean University argued that time travel can be done through wormholes between the points in space-time, which can be possible in the presence of dark matter. However, this is only a theory and has not been proven yet.
Now coming towards all the fuss going on in the media and on the internet about real life time travelers. Have the humans in the future really found a way to work through the general relativity theory and bend the laws of physics? Let’s have a look at a few versions of the mind-boggling stories that are reported by authentic sources.
In the year 1918, a newspaper that was published on Feb 28, 1918, reported that authorities discovered a dead body of a strange man in his late 70’s lying in a two-foot tube. Now, what’s really bizarre about this news is that a device was also found lying next to the body, a technology which was not discovered until decades later. Probably a controller of some sort to control the temporal coordination. Moreover, how can a fully grown man fit inside a 66 cm tube? Similarly, the story of Andrew Carlssin who was arrested by the authorities for the violation of the Security and Exchange Commission in the year 2003 is among the top tall tales pertaining to time travel. According to the reports, Carlssin made $350,000,000 out of just $800 which caught the attention of the SEC. He later confessed that he was a time traveler from 200 years in the future, and he got information of the Stock exchange from the future. Moreover, he also told the authorities about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and the cure for Aids. Later, he vanished and was nowhere to be found. Moreover, the authorities also failed to find his origins before the year 2003, and therefore no one knew where he came from. Bizarre!
These stories are quite fascinating, however, the truth about these reports is that both of them were first published as a fictional piece in the Weekly World News, a satirical newspaper. The stories caught the attention of many people, and later on, websites like Yahoo and MSN published them in their news section, and so they began to spread through word of mouth. Hence, the fictitious nature of the reports gradually became less apparent. Despite all the enigma and the attraction that led us to jump into a pool of arguments relating to time travel possibilities, these two stories were just too good to be true.
In late 2000, a person signed onto the internet by the name of John Titor. He claimed to be a soldier from the year 2036 and predicted that a computer virus will soon wipe out the planet. The Titor story is perhaps the most convoluted story among others. His visit to the year 2000 was to get an R&R and meet the younger (3-year-old) version of himself, simply ignoring or better yet breaking all of the time-fabric paradox rules of time travel. Titor provided a number of theories relating to how time travel actually works along with complex algorithms. Soon Titor became an internet sensation, and people started asking questions about his time, to which he responded with a spine-chilling description of future events and with a disclaimer that his timeline is quite different than ours. In the year 2001 Titor signed off and claimed that he is returning back to his year. From that time onwards he was never to be heard from again and to this date, no one knows who he was. However, after the episode people started to track Titor’s proposed timeline, nevertheless, the false predictions kept piling up. Moreover, Titor also claimed that the Olympic games will not take place after the year 2004. Suddenly, the search for the guy shifted from ‘Is it true?’ to ‘who played us?’. A Tech-savvy teenager who had a lot of time to kill decided to give this puzzle a shot, and on and on it went. Today, a google search for ‘Titor Mystery Solution’ returns 16,300 results. However, no authentic solution has been found yet.
A lot of self-professed time travelers are coming up with proofs and stories. These unproven claims over the internet are growing in number every year. Hence, today everything that is posted on the internet is met by heavy skepticism. We live in the Post-Snopes era because everyone has access to photoshop and other editors. Every video posted on the internet with a feline performing a remarkable feat has at least one commenter crying ‘FAKE!!’. The reason why we fall for these canards is that we find time travel stories to be exhilarating, and to be honest 18 years ago we all wanted Titor to really be from the future because a lot of us are huge fans of such thrills related to time travel. So that’s that. However, the itch at the back of our throats still remains. Is time travel really possible? This mystery fails to be solved.
— Saiyed M. Fauzan Ali is an MBA/M. phil specialized in Supply Chain Management and the founder of THS. The author has previously worked as a research analyst and Critical reviewer, and he is a writing enthusiast.