Not everyone gets the joke, but Twitter can be a great way to inject a little humor into your day. And there's plenty to laugh about in the Tri-State.
Hide Caption

Back to the future? Time travel missing on Twitter

a a a a
Share this story

WASHINGTON -- Time travelers, if they really exist, seem to be keeping their adventures to themselves.

Researchers with perhaps a bit too much time on their hands conducted an extensive Internet and social media search for evidence of time travelers going back in history and then bragging about it online.

And they came up empty. No real life Dr. Who or Marty McFly from "Back to the Future" tweeting secrets a bit early.

Spurred by idle chat during Thursday poker games, an astrophysicist and his students at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Mich., searched for mentions of Pope Francis and Comet ISON before they popped into reality. Francis was elected pope last March and ISON was first detected in September 2012.

The idea: If someone mentions a Pope Francis in a 2011 tweet, Facebook post or blog item, then they must have come back from the future with special knowledge.

But no one posted anything prescient.

And last September, the researchers asked people to tweet "(hash)Icanchangethepast2" - but do it before August, a month earlier. Again, no one did.

The disappointing results, rejected by three physics journals, will be presented Tuesday at the American Astronomical Society conference in Washington.

If someone went back in time and said something to hint about the future, it would prove the concept of time travel, said astrophysicist Robert Nemiroff.

He said this was merely summer fun that cost nothing to do.

"This wasn't a major research push," Nemiroff said Monday at the astronomy meeting. "This was typing things into search engines. Billions of dollars are spent on time travel movies and books and stuff like that. This probably costs less than a dollar to check on it."

Nemiroff said this isn't his normal field and he didn't much believe in traveling backward in time before - and believes less in it now. "Unless I go back (in time) and publish lots of papers," he joked.

Other scientists didn't quite take it too seriously either.

Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb said in an email, "as anyone who uses online dating knows, the Internet is the last place to find the truth about the physical reality."
 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Print this article

Comments

Hmm... It looks like you’re not a WCPO Insider. or Subscribe now to contribute!

More Technology News
Scammers using Netflix to steal from millions
Scammers using Netflix to steal from millions

A dangerous new phishing scam is targeting the sensitive information of millions of Netflix users.

No geeks here: Tri-Staters flock to learn coding
No geeks here: Tri-Staters flock to learn coding

If the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a computer programmer is someone sitting alone in a room, pounding away at a keyboard…

Apps to know and reporter woes in digital review
Apps to know and reporter woes in digital review

Each week, we recap the stories and trends that made headlines in the digital world. Read on to see what you missed.  

Reaching out to communities in different ways
Reaching out to communities in different ways

This week one project looks to double funds for a local hip hop and youth arts center. The second seeks help to expand a café that the…

Sony recalls some laptops over battery issue
Sony recalls some laptops over battery issue

Sony is recalling some of its VAIO laptop computers, saying that it's possible that its non-removable battery pack could overheat.

GOP, Dems clash over online domain names
GOP, Dems clash over online domain names

Republican opposition to Obama administration plans to spin off U.S. oversight of the Internet's domain name system is evolving into an…

Heartbleed: Which websites have security bug?
Heartbleed: Which websites have security bug?

One of the biggest encryption flaws the Internet has ever endured has potentially affected thousands of websites.

What you need to know about the Heartbleed bug
What you need to know about the Heartbleed bug

Millions of passwords, credit card numbers and other personal information may be at risk as a result of a major breakdown in Internet…

'Heartbleed' flaw exposes millions of passwords
'Heartbleed' flaw exposes millions of passwords

An alarming lapse in Internet security has exposed millions of passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive bits of information to…

8 apps parents should watch for
8 apps parents should watch for

Is it really a friend or is it a predator? Unless you are actively monitoring your child's smartphone and tablet apps, you are not…