Time Travel Is Possible (And 10 People Who Did It For Real)
How Time Travel Began
The first instance of time travel appears in literature is in the Hindu epic The Mahabharata. Kakudmi and his beautiful daughter, Revati, traveled to the court of the god Brahma to get advice on who Revati should marry. After listening to some music, Brahma tells them that time runs differently in his kingdom and that although they felt only a few moments pass, thousands of years had lapsed on Earth. When Kakudmi and Revati return home, they discover they are the first time travelers.
Rip Van Winkle
The hero of Washington Irving's famous 18th century short story met a stranger in the woods and drank some of his moonshine. He then fell into a drunken stupor and awoke to find that 20 years had passed while he slept. Besides experiencing the world's worst hangover, Rip Van Winkle also has the distinction of being the "person" who put the idea of time travel into the minds of the public.
Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity is the closest thing we have to "real" time travel. The theory goes that if a man travels away from his twin at close to the speed of light, when he returns (also at close to the speed of light) he will find that he twin has aged more than he has. Because all processes — chemical, biological, mechanical, etc. — are constrained by the speed of light, the traveling twin's biological aging would slow as would the clocks aboard the vehicle in which he's traveling.
"Real" Time Travel
Image via David Midgley
Another method of "real" time travel is already happening — the science of cryonics. Cryonics, more commonly known as suspended animation, is a method of cooling a living organism so that life processes such as breathing and heartbeat still occur, but at a much slower pace. The organism being suspended would not be aware that time is passing and could possibly "wake up" long after his original lifespan would have been over. While not yet tried on humans, scientists have successfully suspended and re-animated mice, dogs and pigs.
Back To The Future
In Back To The Future, Marty McFly travels back in time and almost prevents his parents from falling in love, thereby nearly erasing himself. This is what is known as the "grandfather paradox" — the logical impossibility of a time traveler going back in time to kill his grandfather before his own father is born.
Thing is, we still don't know all that much about how the space-time continuum operates. So, is actual time travel possible? Here are 10 people who may have done it... maybe...
A Government Scientist (Or Many Scientists)
The Montauk Air Force Station is rumored to house a massive, subterranean laboratory where top-secret government experiments in time travel are being conducted. Rumors began in the early 1980s when two men, Preston Nichols and Al Bielek, said that they had begun to recover suppressed memories of working in the lab. Many believe that the laboratory managed to create a "time tunnel," which allowed scientists to travel back to 1943.
Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain
In 1901, Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain (above), the principal and vice-principal, respectively, of St. Hugh's College in Oxford, reported that they had accidentally slipped back in time. While visiting a small chateau on the grounds of Versailles, the women suddenly found themselves in the time of the French Revolution, where they reported seeing and interacting with people who they believed to be in the court of Marie Antoinette. The two women posthumously published an account of their tale, titling the book An Adventure.
A Man In Liverpool, England
Bold Street in Liverpool has gained quite the reputation recently. Many people have claimed that while on the street they have suddenly been transported back to the 1950s and '60s. According to a report called "On the Edge of Time" by Tim Swartz, a man walking along Bold Street slipped back in time to the 1950s. When he returned to their own time he recounted seeing the names of several historically accurate store signs.
Time Traveler In Chaplin Movie
A woman filmed outside the 1928 premiere of Charlie Chaplin's The Circus has convinced many people that time travel is real. The unidentified woman holds her hand up to her ear and talks to somebody, although no one is near her. But wait — there were no cell phones in 1928! Could this woman be a time traveler communicating with her contemporaries via mobile phone?
...and a look at the woman turning toward the camera, in mid-sentence.
VonHelton the Time-Traveling Vampire
Known simply as VonHelton, this enigmatic figure suggests he might be part vampire, but asserts he is 100% time traveler. He has provided proof of his time travel prowess by lining up side-by-side photographs of himself starting in a studio in 1857 England, with stops in 1916 France, 1945 Berlin, and ending in the modern day in front of an American flag. Is he, in fact, a time traveler? Or is his "vampire gene" keeping him immortal?
A Man Who Met Himself
Hakan Nordqvist was having a normal if irksome time fixing his leaky sink when he suddenly found himself crawling through a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel was Hakan himself - but as an older man, somewhere around 70. So that his claims wouldn't be refuted, Hakvan filmed himself jovially embracing himself. The footage even shows the two men showing off their matching tattoos.
Time Traveler Who Discovered the Secrets of Macedonia
Pasko Kuzman is a Macedonian archaeologist whose findings are considered incredibly important in his field — oh, and he's also a self-proclaimed time traveler. He wears multiple watches on one arm, which he says help him travel through time: one takes him back to the Bronze and Neolithic Age, one takes him to the future, and the third is "The Archeologists' Watch," which alerts him to the presence of gold. Could his archeological fame be due to actually having visited the past?
Time Traveler Caught in 1941 Photo
At first glance, this photo appears to be nothing out of the ordinary — that is, until you spot the Rayban-wearing dude in the midst of a formal hat and tie crew from the 1940s. Not only do the gentleman's modern sunglasses make him suspicious, but observers have noted that he is wearing a screen-print t-shirt and holding a modern camera.
1950s Educational Video Instructor
In footage from a civil defense educational film from the 1950s, a teacher gestures to the chalkboard on which is written, "With," "No," "Warning" and "Game 2 Giants 9 Rangers 0." Such was the score of game 2 of the 2010 World Series. Is this proof that the teacher was in reality a time traveling sports fan?
Is Henry Fonda from the Future?
As Lt. Col. Owen Thursday in the 1948 movie, Fort Apache, Henry Fonda appears in one stagecoach scene to pull out and interact with what appears to be an iPhone. Could it be that Fonda visited the future and brought home a souvenir? Or perhaps the props master found the phone misplaced by a careless time traveler from our own time?
BONUS: C. E. Alden
In 1906, newspapers announced the invention of the "Vest Pocket Telephone." Did inventor Charles E. Alden come from the future?