As my first candidate of the year for the Ig Nobel prize, we have a couple of physicists who went looking for evidence of time travelers by examining the internet. Their work, which I think is still unpublished yet, was covered here.
Robert Nemiroff and Teresa Wilson from Michigan Technological University’s physics department developed a strategy for tracking down time travellers by trawling the internet for references to prescient information posted before it should be possible.
To cut an amusingly long story short, they found none.For instance, they searched for mentions of “Comet ISON” prior to its discovery in September 2012, theorising that it was a large enough event that it would be known to those even far in the future and possibly mentioned online by accident after they travelled back in time.
Similarly, they looked for mentions of “Pope Francis” proper to March 2013, as the current pontiff is the first to have ever had the name.
The researchers scoured popular search engines such as Google, but also turned to Twitter and Facebook.
Unfortunately, they were forced to conclude that no time traveller has ever come back from the future and left visible clues online.They forgot one other reason. These time travelers knew that these two will be trying to trace them via such means and thus, made sure they did not make any such comments as to give themselves away.
“Although the negative results reported here may indicate that time travellers from the future are not among us and cannot communicate with us over the modern day internet, they are by no means proof,” they said.
“There are many reasons for this. First, it may be physically impossible for time travellers to leave any lasting remnants of their stay in the past, including even non-corporeal informational remnants on the internet. Next, it may be physically impossible for us to find such information as that would violate some yet-unknown law of physics.
“Furthermore, time travellers may not want to be found, and may be good at covering their tracks.”