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back to article Time travellers outsmart the NSA

If there are time travellers around, they're being careful not to leave their fingerprints on the Internet. That's the conclusion in a paper published at Arxiv, put together by Michigan Technical University physics professor Robert Nemiroff and PhD candidate Teresa Wilson. They searched the Internet for “prescient” signatures – …

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Anonymous Coward

Well I'm convinced.

If I was a time traveler from the future, I certainly know that I would have no better things to do than tweet about the pope and comet ison.

Also I can't help but notice that time travel, comet ISON, Pope Francis (and the Mayan calendar) are all ingredients in a particularly silly conspiracy theory.

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Paris Hilton

John Titor told me all about it in 2000!

You may be confusing this with a novel by Dan Brown?

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Re: Well I'm convinced.

"Getting desperate, the researchers have also asked time travellers, if they exist, to post to the hashtag “#IcanChangeThePast2” or “#IcannotChangeThePast2”, on or before August 2013."

If a time traveller posted “#IcannotChangeThePast2” at any point in their own past, then they would have changed their own past (by revealing the possibility of time travel in the future), thus contradicting their own post.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well I'm convinced.

Look at lottery tickets instead.

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FAIL

Re: Well I'm convinced.

I know this just proves that social media has no future.

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Alien

Re: Well I'm convinced.

I think our Time Traveling friends instead went for #IhazCheezeburger instead to not totally give themselves away. Bow to our (time traveling) feline overlords!

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Black Helicopters

Re: Well I'm convinced.

I suspect some went with #IwillhazCheezeburgeryesterdayz in error, thus revealing their time travelling ways. Fortunately, they then saw the register's report that time travellers *had* been found on the interwebs, and thus went back in time again to delete the tweet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well I'm convinced.

Then there's the question of what would actually happen if they did tweet with the hashtag in question, and the Everett many worlds interpretation is the correct one. Would the researchers ever see the results of their request? Their timeline and the one in which the tweet was made might presumably be mutually exclusive.

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Re: Well I'm convinced.

"...the Everett many worlds interpretation is the correct one..."

You are making a distinction without a difference. The Everett many worlds interpretation is "the correct one", as it is entirely equivalent in all ways to the conventional collapsing wavefunction "correct" interpretation. Any competent Physicist could tell you that.

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Re: John Titor told me all about it in 2000!

And you seem to be confusing the things Dan Brown writes with novels.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Well I'm convinced.

AC: "Look at lottery tickets instead."

Ah, a hit! Canadian lottery ticket retailers and their extended family members win Canadian lotteries at a rate that is startling. An obvious sign of Time Traveling.

Or perhaps they cheat trusting old folks out of their winnings.

It's either one or the other.

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Not their own past.

They're being asked to do it; i.e, they haven't, yet. Not in their own personal timeline, that is. If they do it(*) tomorrow, or next month or in twenty years, then that's still in the future to them. So they'll only be changing their own future, not their past, and that's allowed: We all do, all the time.

(*): Where "do it" means "go back to whenever it was and post whatever it was on Twitter."

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Personally I'd of hoped

That time travellers would have evolved beyond Twitter....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Personally I'd of hoped

Time travel is interesting. For instance, it's a nice explanation for Fermi's paradox: the reason Earth is not knee-deep in invading aliens is because the Space-Time Service of the future Terran Empire is protecting the empire's origins.

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Re: Personally I'd of hoped

Oh come on, everyone knows the real reason that we are not knee-deep in invading aliens is due to this one man.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Personally I'd of hoped

Personally, I'd _have_ hoped that time travellers would have evolved beyond Twitter-style grammar...

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Pirate

Re: Personally I'd of hoped

@Keith

Or possibly they're just frightened that Capt Jack will try to shag them

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Re: Personally I'd of hoped

" ... I'd _have_ hoped ..."

I want people to write: I'd've ... Is anybody with me on this?

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Re: Personally I'd of hoped

I'd've thought there's no reason not to - given that's how a lot of people say it!

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Re: Personally I'd of hoped

Hmm.

Given that language changes over time, I'd've thought that 'I'd've' might change to 'iduv' as a specific conditional perfect construction in the English language.

So we could use a search for 'iduv' as another method of finding out if there are any persons from the future living amongst us, and who may not be completely fluent in 20th Century English.

Unfortunately, IDUV appears to be a currently existing type of film. So bang goes that idea....

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Re: Personally I'd of hoped

It would be really, really sad if they had not.

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Re: Personally I'd of hoped

Every time I get to thinking that humanity has a chance of survival something comes along to make it once again dubious. This, however, whould be proof. The reason they won't be detected with the twitter methodology is that they would have probably only jumped about 3 seconds into the future with their device. I'm not sure tweeter twits have attention spans much longer than that.

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Re: Personally I'd of hoped

Actually, being a land of culture and a people who love the classics, here in Oz it's pronounced 'Aida'

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Personally I'd of hoped

Why would anybody with that kind of capability do something as boring as visiting us? I know I would be gone in a heartbeat, never looking back.

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Re: Personally I'd of hoped

I'm disappointed that you linked to an alleged medical practitioner rather than Tomas de Torquemada, Emperor of Termight. Be pure! Be vigilant! Behave!

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Being from the future

I would think that tweeting of time travel is tacky and I've got better things to do than indicate "prescient" things about the pope's religion and the preferred location for bears to defecate. #IdidHasCheezburger but found NSA taggants so gave it to a cat.

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Re: Being from the future

Don'tsss syouuu wantsss stoooo know whessssur sssthere isss a lissssar under thsssat srobe? Anna will award you withsss your own Blue Energgggy ssssphere.

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Do not assist, or you'll be pursued by:

Crewman Daniels

The Starfleet Temporal Commision

The Xindi

Captain Janeway

Crewman Braxton (if he ever gets out and re-promotes himself)

And a slew of others, just from Trek alone, hahaha....

Hahaha

Besides, IF you can timetravel, you owe it to the continuity of time to not assist any frackkin humans of this strain with any quantum or time-related fact.

Further besides, humans are not yet ready for even solar travel.

And, if you help any alphabet soup agencies, you'll screw up the "Earth: Galactic Comedy Central Pitstop" status I "presciently" accorded to this planet weeks ago and intermittently.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do not assist, or you'll be pursued by:

How do we know he didn't invent transparent aluminum?

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Re: Do not assist, or you'll be pursued by:

We don't, but probably he did.

Do you know who on Carbon Creek provided hyoomons with Velcro? Thank Gene Roddenberry for Trek, hehehe. Velcro is a great thing, but the progeny of it may be in dispute for centuries to come, or uncome...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do not assist, or you'll be pursued by:

3M did it years ago- have a quick Google for Alumina glass.

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Re: Do not assist, or you'll be pursued by:

Not to mention the Hounds of Tindalos.

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Re: Do not assist, or you'll be pursued by:

I tried to "uncome", after getting a girl pregnant. Seems you need a bit more than some floss, a condom and a few scraps of tin foil in order to time travel.

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All your timelines

Are blong to usssss

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On wonders ...

... how much grant money Michigan Technical University physics professor Robert Nemiroff and PhD candidate Teresa Wilson pocked from this useless exercise ... and who was daft enough to bankroll it in the first place.

Honestly, the mind boggles.

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Re: On wonders ...

You must have your sense of humor switch stuck in the off position.

But seriously the paper cost nothing. A few hours of fun discussion, Internet search and then writing it up. Even publishing on axiv if free. They also do not list any research projects in the acknowledgement section so they did not use the paper on their time sheets .

No, they have not done this on your money. With the possible exception of the professor salary. You never did silly web searches while in work? So throw the first stone. But they at least did their time to produce something funny.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: On wonders ...

It actually reads like they were doing a small project on internet research nad this was just a whimsical way to make the point that Google's chronology won't work.

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Re: On wonders ...

Maybe the timetravellers funded the research as an ironic joke. As a side effect they also managed to send a message to their home time saying help we are stuck here without any scientists realising what was happening and therefore preserving the time line unless someone posts a message such as this.

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Go

I have been time-traveling my entire life

One moment at a time into the great unknown future. What a grand adventure it's been.

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Happy

Re: I have been time-traveling my entire life

And in the opposite direction...we see into the past by looking at the very stars themselves, their celestial light arriving long after many of them have died.

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Anonymous Coward

We are here you know. All of us from everywhen. Screw up badly enough to get a life sentence and they track you down and shunt you into this shitty timeline. The only one -yeah, I guess there had to be one - so far beyond the decimal point that neither space nor time travel exist here. Suicide rock they call it. No way off and no way out. Won't claim me though. Too old. I'll be gone by then. Feel a pang for the juvies tho'. Shit's gonna get real for them.

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Remind me,

Hawksbill Station (a.k.a The Anvil of Time) by Robert Silverburg, maybe?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Remind me,

I thought it was me but it's not impossible that I'm subconsciously regurgitating something I read, I like Silverberg's style so I'm going to dig that one up and check it out.

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Re: Remind me,

Do. The premise is that a penal colony of political dissenters exists in the Precambrian era, since people can only be sent back in time. The narrator is an old hand who doesn't like much change.

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But, um, there is proof of time travel

http://h2g2.com/entry/A753806

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Meh

So if no time traveler responds

They will have their proof. Maybe they can get a law passed to ensure all time travelers register with immigration?

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Re: So if no time traveler responds

They took our jerbs!!!

http://southpark.wikia.com/wiki/Goobacks

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Unhappy

He came, he saw, he left again.

http://www.globalnerdy.com/2009/02/23/future-man-tried-to-warn-us/

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Thumb Up

Re: He came, he saw, he left again.

"He went back to our common future of FAIL, whence he came."

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Headmaster

A must read to increase your knollij!

PHYS771 Lecture 19: Time Travel

Let's talk about the more interesting kind of time travel: the backwards kind. Can closed timelike curves (CTCs) exist in Nature? This question has a very long history of being studied by physicists on weekends. It was discovered early on, by Gödel and others, that classical general relativity admits CTC solutions. All of the known solutions, however, have some element that can be objected to as being "unphysical." For example, some solutions involve wormholes, but that requires "exotic matter" having negative mass to keep the wormhole open. They all, so far, involve either non-standard cosmologies or else types of matter or energy that have yet to be experimentally observed. But that's just classical general relativity. Once you put quantum mechanics in the picture, it becomes an even harder question. General relativity is not just a theory of some fields in spacetime, but of spacetime itself, and so once you quantize it, you'd expect there to be fluctuations in the causal structure of spacetime. The question is, why shouldn't that produce CTCs?

Incidentally, there's an interesting metaquestion here: why have physicists found it so hard to create a quantum theory of gravity? The technical answer usually given is that, unlike (say) Maxwell's equations, general relativity is not renormalizable. But I think there's also a simpler answer, one that's much more understandable to a doofus layperson like me. The real heart of the matter is that general relativity is a theory of spacetime itself, and so a quantum theory of gravity is going to have to be talking about superpositions over spacetime and fluctuations of spacetime. One of the things you'd expect such a theory to answer is whether closed timelike curves can exist. So quantum gravity seems "CTC-hard", in the sense that it's at least as hard as determining if CTCs are possible! And even I can see that this can't possibly be a trivial question to settle. Even if CTCs are impossible, presumably they're not going to be proven impossible without some far-reaching new insight. Of course, this is just one instantiation of a general problem: that no one really has a clear idea of what it means to treat spacetime itself quantum-mechanically.

In the field I come from, it's never our place to ask if some physical object exists or not, it's to assume it exists and see what computations we can do with it. Thus, from now on, we'll assume CTCs exist. What would the consequences be for computational complexity? Perhaps surprisingly, I'll be able to give a clear and specific answer to that.

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