Physicists Search For Tweets From Time Travelers

Posted: Jan 5 2014, 12:51pm CST | by


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Physicists Search For Tweets From Time Travelers
Photo Credit: Forbes

Researchers at Michigan Tech recently went online to look for evidence of time travelers, operating under the assumption that folks from the future might have taken the time to search for information that belies their unique temporal origins, or erroneously posted evidence online of their knowledge of future events.

As laid out in a full-blown paper published online and reported by CNET, the researchers settled on two newsworthy phrases from the past year to anchor their search: “Comet ISON” and “Pope Francis.” They then scoured a number of sources on the internet to look for postings of these phrases online dated before they became newsworthy.

Using Google for the task proved unhelpful since ads on dated content across the Internet creates false positives. Search results from Facebook and Google+ were also problematic for technical reasons, according to the researchers, leaving Twitter as the best single means of looking for time travelers who just couldn’t resist firing off a tweet about the identity of the next pontiff before his election.

Not surprisingly, the research turned up no evidence of time travelers tweeting about two very specific news stories from 2013 in the months and years leading up to their hitting our collective consciousness.

Undeterred, the researchers tweeted their own request for any “@timetravelers” out there in the Twitterverse to respond with a certain hash tag, but please do it before the researchers’ tweeted the request to do so.

So far, no time travelers have tweeted a response — at least not before August 2013, when the request to respond from the past was made.

By now, you’ve probably spotted numerous problems with this whole approach, like the fact that tweets can be edited, deleted or spoofed. Given the pace of technology, it also seems likely that few people in the future would know what Twitter is, let alone how to use it (how many of your friends and relatives in the present are still clueless about tweeting?)

Presuming that traveling back in time is pretty serious business in the future, it’s also hard to conceive of why any time travel mission might include taking the time out to tweet about anything, especially a big comet that burned up and never put on the potential show it promised. And weren’t we all taught by Hollywood that time travelers are supposed to leave no trace of themselves so as not to turn the space time continuum into a bad mashup of historical events and science fiction?

So there’s really two potential things to conclude from this research: 1.The approach was woefully inadequate, focusing only on two random terms from one year in time left via one of our society’s more trivial means of communication; OR 2. The researchers themselves are time travelers with an affinity for tweeting who are now trying to throw us off their trail.

Maybe we should be more closely examining all tweets affiliated with Michigan Tech for evidence of time travel…

Source: Forbes

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