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Saturday, January 4, 2014

If Time Travelers Exist, They're Lying Low on Social Media

If Time Travelers Exist, They're Lying Low on Social Media 

If time travelers do walk among us, they're doing a great job of keeping a low profile on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
New research posted online last week from Michigan Technological University summarizes a search for time travelers using social media sites like Facebook ,Twitter , and Google+ . Physics professor Robert Nemiroff and Ph.D. candidate Teresa Wilson from the university published the work after scouring the internet for "prescient" information, or content "that should not have been known at the time it was posted."
The researchers were not able to identify any potential time travelers.
The strategy behind the study was relatively simple. The duo searched for terms that described items or events that had specific names, or events and items of historical importance. The study centered around two main search labels:Comet ISON and Pope Francis .
Comet ISON was discovered in September of 2012, and no other comet had ever gone by the same name, according to the study. The situation was similar in the case of Pope Francis. When the Argentinian priest was selected to serve as the leader of the Catholic Church, he chose the name "Francis," the first time any pope had ever used that name. Any mention of "Pope Francis" before his inauguration would therefore serve as "potentially prescient evidence of time travelers from the future," the study reads.
The researchers also used hashtags like #cometison and #popefrancis in their search.
The study concludes that both Facebook and Google+ proved difficult during the search for posts. Facebook allows users to backdate posts, meaning a mention of Pope Francis in 2013 could have been changed so that it appeared to come years earlier. Google+ does not order search results based on time, making it a too difficult to locate any prescient material.
The only potential hit the researchers got was on Twitter, where a tweet referred to a blog post where the term "Pope Francis" was used. The blog was ultimately deemed "overtly speculative and not prescient" upon further review.
While the study may not have turned up any time travelers, that doesn't mean they don't exist, wrote Prof. Robert Nemiroff and Ph.D. candidate Teresa Wilson.
"Although the negative results reported here may indicate that time travelers from the future are not among us and cannot communicate with us over the modern day Internet, they are by no means proof," they wrote, citing a number of reasons to support this claim.
Among them: "Time travelers may not want to be found, and may be good at covering their tracks."
Perhaps that means our future selves have perfected the art of online privacy.

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