I spend endless amounts of time on the internet searching for stuff that doesn’t exist. My latest quest is to find an internet router that doesn’t suck, because every one I buy seems to self-destruct within a year, and if I had time to sit around installing hacked updates to the firmware, I’d probably look into sleep.
Anyway, two physicists at Michigan Tech have written a paper about searching the internet for evidence of people who have traveled time. It’s a bit academic, but a good read, and details attempts to find prescient search queries and twitter updates. Spoiler alert: they did not find any time travelers. This is reminiscent to the party Stephen Hawking threw in 2012 for time travelers, only sending out invitations after the event. (Nobody showed up.)
I personally think this brief paper brings up more questions than it answers. Specifically:
- Would people from the future use our internet when they time travel here, or would they have a connection to another internet from the future? For example, when I travel, I often check the weather at home, especially right before I get on a plane for my return trip. If you came here from the future, wouldn’t you do the same before you return?
- A much better search for prescient queries would be to search the massive Vegas databases of sports book transactions for extremely lopsided bets. This would be an issue in that nobody outside of Vegas casino management can get at this data, and most gambling systems (like credit card fraud systems) don’t use large, sudden bets. For example, if you had a Back To The Future-esque sports almanac, it would be idiotic to place million-to-one superbowl bets for large amounts, because you’d be pulled into a back room to have your hands smashed with hammers. Instead, it would be better to place hundreds of tiny bets, maybe a point against the spread, and slowly grind out huge winnings, which would not be as traceable.
- Time travelers might astroturf huge amounts of fake data against search engines to cover their tracks, making searches useless.
- Some idiotic time travel movie is going to use this as a viral marketing campaign. (Note: when this happens next summer, don’t use this as proof that I am a time traveler.)