It started over a poker game.
Astrophysicist Robert Nemiroff and his students were playing cards (for chips) last summer, chatting about Facebook. They wondered: If there were time travelers among us, would they be on social media? How would you find them? Could you Google them?
“We had a whimsical little discussion about this,” said Nemiroff, a professor at Michigan Technological University. The result was a fun-but-serious effort to tease out travelers visiting from the future by sifting through the Internet. Unfortunately, they have uncovered no DeLorean time machines, but that hasn’t made the search less interesting.
You can’t just put out a cattle call for time travelers and expect good results. So Nemiroff’s team developed a search strategy based on what they call prescient knowledge. If they could find a mention of something or someone on the Internet before people should have known about it, that could indicate that whoever wrote it had traveled from the future.
They selected search terms relating to two recent phenomena, Pope Francis and Comet ISON, and began looking for references to them before they were known to exist. Their work was exhaustive: they used a variety of search engines, such as Google and Bing, and combed through Facebook and Twitter. In the case of Comet ISON, there were no mentions before it burst on the scene in September 2012. They discovered only one blog post referencing a Pope Francis before Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected head of the Catholic Church on March 16, but it seemed more accidental that prescient.
They also searched for prescient inquiries submitted to search engines and combed through the Astronomy Picture of the Day site, which Nemiroff co-edits. Still no luck.
For their last and perhaps most ingenious effort, the researchers created a post in September 2013 asking readers to email or tweet one of two messages on or before August 2013: “#ICanChangeThePast2” or “#ICannotChangeThePast2.” Alas, their invitation went unanswered. And, they received no insights into the inherent contradictions of time travel.
“In our limited search we turned up nothing,” Nemiroff said. “I didn’t really think we would. But I’m still not aware of anyone undertaking a search like this. The Internet is essentially a vast database, and I thought that if time travelers were here, their existence would have already come out in some other way, maybe by posting winning lottery numbers before they were selected. “
The Latest on: Time travel
via Google News
The Latest on: Time travel
- Brits rush to book breaks abroad — as travel chiefs say Covid green list should be expandedon May 8, 2021 at 6:49 pm
BRITS rushed to book breaks abroad yesterday — as travel chiefs said the Covid green list should be expanded. The UK’s biggest holiday firm, TUI, had its “best day” in months, with six in ten ...
- The travel industry is capitalizing on people coming to the US to get COVID-19 vaccineson May 8, 2021 at 6:02 pm
Thousands of tourists, mainly from Mexico, have made long trips to get COVID-19 vaccine shots in the states due to limited supply in their home countries.
- Tyler Herro’s return, Goran Dragic’s resurgence coming at critical time for Heat; Victor Oladipo doesn’t travel to Bostonon May 8, 2021 at 3:03 pm
Tyler Herro’s return and Goran Dragic’s resurgence couldn’t have come at a better time for the Miami Heat. The duo combined for 50 points in the Heat's Friday win versus the Timberwolves.
- 7 travel hacks to save you time and money on your next tripon May 8, 2021 at 5:00 am
The pandemic seems to be nearing its end. If you're planning your next trip, try using these seven travel hacks to make things easier.
- Review: THE TIME TRAVEL CAFE at Anywhere Festivalon May 7, 2021 at 3:44 pm
You enter a cafe, furnished with old-timey sofas, mirrors and vintage bar serving the most exhuberant time travel cocktails which I've ever indulged in. The cafe is nothing less but exquisite and you ...
- Couple reunites just in time for their child's birth after Biden lifts travel banon May 6, 2021 at 7:06 pm
President Biden reversed his predecessor's ban on travel from some Muslim majority countries just in time for a couple to be together for the birth of their son.
- It's time to break out of our rooms -- and travelon May 6, 2021 at 4:16 pm
Vaccinated and ready to go abroad? The reasons to travel are abundant and obvious enough: there is so much to learn, so much to see and do, writes Jay Parini. But early on I realized that travel also ...
- Pena Boulevard Closure Will Add 15 Minutes To Travel Time To DIAon May 6, 2021 at 2:28 pm
Pena Boulevard will be closed at Jackson Gap overnight on May 8, May 11, and May 15. (credit: CBS) The closure will last from 9 p.m. until 4 a.m. The detour around the closure will add about 15 ...
- Neman: Time travel on a small scale: Going back to the officeon May 5, 2021 at 7:15 am
Food writer Daniel Neman returned to the office for the first time in months. He found camaraderie, cookbooks and illegible sticky notes.
- Time’s Running Out For The Big Summer Travel Recovery That Airlines Are Hoping Foron May 5, 2021 at 3:00 am
U.S. airlines are currently offering seating capacity this July that comes close to the level of July 2019. Here's why a lot of those seats are going to be withdrawn.
via Bing News