Friday, January 03, 2014

Searching The Internet For Time Travellers

From the abstract:

Abstract. 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. 

Here's one example of a search term they thought might be sufficiently unique to reveal prescient knowledge (and therefore indicate a time traveler from the future):

On 2013 March 16, the newly elected pope of the Catholic Church, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, chose the
official name of Francis. Bergoglio is the first pope ever to choose the name Francis. Therefore, the term "Pope Francis" is relatively unique and came into the public lexicon during our search period. Since Christianity is currently the most popular religion on Earth, Roman Catholics comprise the largest sect of  Christianity [20], and papal histories are well recorded, it seems reasonable to assume that "Pope Francis"  would remain memorable well into the future. Before 2013 March, however, there is little reason for  anyone without prescient information to mention a "Pope Francis". Discussions or even mentions on the Internet of Pope Francis before 2013 March were therefore searched for as potentially prescient evidence of time travelers from the future.

But, again, nothing.

On the other hand, as they say, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.  If you're sitting around bored at work today and want to do some research that could overturn all of physics, you might consider throwing an hour or two at the problem.

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