Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) and other social media platforms could provide a way for researchers to prove that people really are time traveling. At least, that’s what they’re hoping. People have been intrigued by the idea of time travel for more than a century, as classics like H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine continue to captivate our imaginations.
But is time travel even possible? Believe it or not, actual researchers have written a paper about studies they have conducted on Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites in order to see whether there are time travelers living among us.
Would time travelers post on Twitter now?
As Engadget reports, the study was conducted at Michigan Technological University. Researchers have been sifting through Twitter posts looking for signs that time travelers from the future have visited the past. They think that perhaps posting on Twitter and Facebook is very popular in the future and that time travelers have traveled back in time to post things on these social media sites.
I don’t know about you, but if I got to travel back in time, the last thing I would want to do is waste time by doing something like posting on Twitter or Facebook. So much to do, so much to explore in the real world… But I digress.
How the Twitter study worked
In order to determine whether people traveled back in time, the researchers looked for signs of two popular search times on Twitter before these terms entered into usage. The two terms were “comet ISON,” which entered usage on Set. 21, 2012, and “Pope Francis,” which entered usage on March 16, 2013.
The study found limits in Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s decision to allow users to back-date posts and in the fact that Google Trends only picks up popular terms.
In addition to looking at popular search terms, the researchers asked people to use the Twitter hashtags #ICanChangeThePast2 and #ICannotChangeThePast2. Then they looked for Twitter posts which were dated before their request for people to start using them. A third technique they used was inspired by Stephen Hawking, who sent out invitations to a party after he already held it to see if anyone would travel back in time to attend.
Needless to say, no time travelers were uncovered by their research. Of course it’s worth considering that even if someone traveled back in time, do you think they would be fooled by our attempts to unmask them? Let’s hope the future members of the human race are even smarter than we are.