In honor of the 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who,” here are some stories about some people who claimed to have unlocked the secret of time travel…or maybe not.
• In 2000, a mysterious man named “John Titor” started posting messages on Internet paranormal discussion forums claiming to be a time traveler from the year 2036. He’d been sent back in time by the U.S. government, he said, to fix software bugs that were making computers in the future malfunction. Titor not only showed off pictures of his time machine (a modified 1967 Camaro), but detailed the scary world events between the years 2000 and 2036. For example, from 2004 to 2008, the second American Civil War was waged; that the 2004 Olympics were the last ones ever held; and that in 2015, Russia started World War III by dropping nuclear bombs on China, the U.S., and most of Europe. Three billion people died and all major world governments crumbled. In March 2001, Titor claimed his IT duties were complete and he “returned” to 2036…which means he never posted on Internet forums again. Obviously, you can figure out that Titor’s details of the future history weren’t quite accurate, making this a hoax. But who was behind it? Nobody knows.
• Jacques Vallee is a French scientist who promotes a theory he calls Interdimensional Hypothesis. In short, Vallee says that UFOs—flying saucers and other alien spacecraft that humans have reported seeing—aren’t aliens from a distant planet…they’re time travelers. Vallee was even a UFO consultant on Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, although he couldn’t convince Spielberg to make the movie about time-traveling creatures instead of aliens.
• If anybody were smart enough to figure out time travel, it would have to be Stephen Hawking. In 2012, the famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking tried to settle the “is time travel possible?” debate forever. The answer is “no.” Announcing that he had “experimental evidence that time travel is not possible,” he told reporters that he had held a party for time travelers—on June 28, 2009. Theorizing very simply that if time travelers from the future did, in fact exist, they would have known about Hawking’s time traveler party, and traveled back in time to attend and prove that time travel is possible. He even sent out the invitations after the party was supposed to be held, just to test their time travel capabilities. Still…nobody showed up.
• In 2013, a scientist named Ali Razequi claimed to have built a working time machine, well, really a fortune-telling machine. Razequi, who works for Iran’s Center for Strategic Inventions, says his devices uses a complex series of algorithims to predict the next five to eight years of anyone’s life. The story was first reported by Fars, Iran’s state-run news service, but not even the Iranian government thinks Razequi’s desktop-computer sized device is legitimate. Razequi, however, claims that the Iranian government is keeping his invention because they fear “the Chinese will steal the idea and produce it in millions overnight.”
Want a few “Doctor Who” facts? Read our Doctor Who post.