If you were a modern physicist on the hunt for time travelers, a phenomenon that has intrigued cultures dating back to the Indian Mahabharata in 9th century BC, how would you do it? According to two experts from Michigan Technological University: Check Facebook, obvi.
In a study titled “Searching the Internet for evidence of time travelers,” Drs. Robert Nemiroff (see incredible photo here) and Teresa Wilson chronicle their exhaustive search through Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and Bing in search of signs that people from the future came, selfied, and conquered.
The physicists scoured the social networks for “digital signatures” in the form of posts including prescient information that only someone from the future would know. The two terms they searched for: mentions of Comet ISON and Pope Francis before they became public knowledge. This involved extensive hashtag searches.
Unfortunately, this methodology has some problems:
1. While the implication that people in the distant future still use Twitter and Facebook must be very comfortable for stock holders, it seems a little short sighted to just assume we use not only the same social media but the same form of Internet as well. (Sidenote: If hashtags are still a thing in 3127, I’m moving to Jupiter.)
2. Time travelers don’t have time for social media when they have to prevent THE APOCALYPSE.
3. Okay, even if there’s no pending apocalypse — why Facebook? Even though Nemiroff and Wilson acknowledge that there are three types of time travelers (those who advertise their presence, hide their presence, and are indifferent), wouldn’t the ones who don’t care if people find out about them make their presence known in a bigger way?
4. If they did decide to go on social media, wouldn’t it be to poke an ex girlfriend instead of talk about the Pope?
By the end of the study, the researchers found that even if there were time travelers, which “could be transformative not only to physics but humanity” although also “possibly catastrophic,” they couldn’t find them online. Those sneaks.