Tagtime travel

Physicists Fail to Find Time Travelers on Social Media

The Atlantic reports:

Robert Nemiroff and Teresa Wilson, two researchers at Michigan Technological University, thought they might. In a study released online last week, the two scoured Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and a few other websites to find “prescient information”—that is, tweets and statuses about current events posted before the events became current. The only way someone could write such a post, they reasoned, is if they were visiting… from the future. [...]

The study, alas, turned up no time travelers. But that doesn’t quite mean anything. The authors admit that the study might have failed for many reasons: Time travelers might not have the ability to physically adjust the past; they might not have posted about the events the authors were looking for; they might have posted about the events but not turned up in a search. Time travelers might have also read the study or this news story about it, and been sure to making avoid any careless mistakes.

Full Story: The Atlantic: Can Physicists Find Time Travelers on Facebook?

You can also read the full paper, which hasn’t been peer reviewed yet, on Arxiv

(Thanks Skry!)

For more on the difficulties in using social media for academic research see my recent Wired piece on the lack of peer review of social data.

The Man Who Told the Internet He’d Come from the Future

John Titor Insignia

Mike Lynch, a private detective hired for an Italian documentary on Titor, suggests that Haber’s brother, John Rick Haber, is Titor. John Rick Haber is a computer scientist who would have known about the IBM 5100 and Unix 2038 problem, with a post office box application later linking John Rick Haber with the John Titor Foundation. Lynch believes John Rick Haber to have the computer knowledge and wit to perpetrate the Titor hoax.

i09: The Man Who Told the Internet He’d Come from the Future

Alan Moore Interview on His Next Novel, Jerusalem

Alan Moore

The New Statesmen recently interviewed Alan Moore on the subject of his next novel Jerusalem. The article says it will be about next year, though the novel hasn’t been completed yet. Also, Moore may have a hard time getting it published since it’s 750,000 words – much longer than both A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth and Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

Moore also talks about his theory of time – that we exist in a four dimensional system where consciousness moves backwards and forwards in time but everything else remains still. Much like his fellow comic writer Grant Morrison’s theory, or the theory put forward in LOST and by many occultists such Paul Laffoley and Michael Bertiaux.

Moore also believes that when we die, our consciousness has nowhere to go but back to the beginning. So we live our lives over, and over again. It’s an idea called eternal recurrence, originally put forward in Vedic religions, particularly Jainism, and later by Nietzsche. Point being, you should live a life you’d be willing to live over and over again.

New Statesmen: Alan Moore: “I’ve disproved the existence of death”

Here’s Moore reading from Jerusalem.

For far more on Alan Moore, check out the Alan Moore dossier

Photo by Fimb

Time Loop Theory

lost time loop theory timeline

(Bigger illustration at site)

I came across this for the first time a while back, but was reminded of it during the Barcamp PDX LOST session. It’s sounding more and more likely.

LOST has presented us with various themes of fate vs. destiny; however, by the end of the series, we will all be back at the same universal question: Are we completely controlled by fate, or do we have the ability to change what’s already happened in the future?

The LOST series revolves around the use of a quasi-conventional time machine. All of the “mysteries” that the show presents can be explained through an understanding of how this time machine is used. While many think that a time machine is a “cheap” answer to the show, I can assure you that once LOST makes the “big reveal,” there will be much to think about and reflect upon.

I’d like the reader to note that this is an extensive theory that “stretches” many events to the point that the entire theory may not seem believable. The purpose of the theory is to take a concept of time travel and apply it to all elements of the show – in an attempt to answer almost every question that is presented by LOST. Will all the answers make complete sense? No. Is there any theory out there that is proven to be 100% true? No. With that said, it should also be noted that most of this theory is complete conjecture and I make no claim that this theory is the definitive “answer” to the show it should be read for entertainment purposes only.

In this theory, I will walk you through the linear progression of events in LOST; however, this progression is very different than the ordering of the episodes of LOST – so I will simply provide estimated timestamps for each event. This is a very long theory, and may be confusing to readers who are not well-versed in the world of LOST. Make sure you have time to at least read through the “timeline” section of this theory that is where I lay out all of the events of the show. Thanks, and enjoy reading the theory!

Time Loop Theory.

Real life DHARMA Initiative # 3: Esalen Institute and Physics Consciousness Research Group

Jack Sarfatti, Saul Paul Sirag, Nick Herbert, and Fred Alan Wolf

From left to right, Jack Sarfatti, Saul Paul Sirag, Nick Herbert, and Fred Alan Wolf lower right in 1974

From the Wikipedia entry on the Esalen Institute:

Esalen Institute is a center in Big Sur, California, in the United States, for humanistic alternative education and a nonprofit organization devoted to multidisciplinary studies ordinarily neglected or unfavoured by traditional academia. Esalen offers more than 500 public workshops a year in addition to invitational conferences, residential work-study programs, research initiatives, and internships. Part think-tank for the emerging world culture, part college and lab for transformative practices, and part restorative retreat, Esalen is dedicated to exploring work in the humanities and sciences that furthers the full realization of what Aldous Huxley called the “human potential”.

Esalen Institute was founded by Michael Murphy and Dick Price in 1962, and soon became known for its blend of East/West philosophies, experiential/didactic workshops, and a steady influx of philosophers, psychologists, artists, and religious thinkers.

One of the various projects of the Esalen Institute was the Physics Consciousness Research Group, founded to study time travel, ESP, consciousness after death, and other fringe subjects. Various people have made the claim that Physics Consciousness Research Group was the inspiration for the movie Ghostbusters. Jack Sarfatti, one of the founders of the Physics Consciousness Research Group, is a physicist and archetypal “mad scientist” – in fact, he claims to be the inspiration for both from Back to the Future and Egon Spangler from Ghostbusters.

MP3 Interview with Sarfatti on the R.U. Sirius Show.

Something of a memoir by Sarfatti that covers Physics Consciousness Research Group and its influence on Hollywood.

Update: How could I have forgotten Alex Burns’s classic article on Sarfatti?

More LOST physics in Popular Mechanics

casimer effect

Above: Casimer effect illustration from Wikipedia.

Physicist and time-travel guru Michio Kaku told Popular Mechanics last year that some scientists believe time travel through holes in space and time, known as wormholes, might be possible, but there are problems that need to be conquered. First, there’s the matter of energy—massive amounts would be needed to create a black hole, which could function as a portal to another point in space and time. But it would be a one-way trip; black holes aren’t stable enough to stay open on their own. Creating a wormhole, a stable portal through space and time that would allow return trips, would require inconceivable amounts of energy—inconceivable, that is, unless you’re on an island that can make paraplegics walk, harbors a monster of smoke and can disappear off the face of the Earth. Physicists have created tiny amounts of energy in the laboratory using the Casimir Effect—quantum fluctuations that can create energy in a vacuum—but what has been generated in the lab isn’t enough to keep a wormhole open, Kaku says. (We first learned about the Casimir Effect in the Orchid Station orientation video in Season Four’s “No Place Like Home.”)Chang warns a Dharma worker who is drilling into the earth in an attempt to access a buried wheel (the same wheel that Ben uses to move the island some 30-odd years later) that under no circumstances should workers building the Orchid Station set off charges near the pocket of exotic matter during the construction process. When asked what would happen, Chang says only, “God help us all.”

Exotic matter is hypothetical, and physicists such as Kaku know “almost nothing” about what its properties could be. Such matter would have “formed when the Earth was young, and then floated into outer space,” Kaku says, “and therefore there’s none left on Earth.” However, it may have been possible for a pocket of the matter to become accidentally trapped underground. Physicists theorize that exotic matter could have antigravitational properties (so it would fall up) or it would have negative energy (absorbing energy around it, possibly making it implosive). And if it were to have antigravitational properties, it wouldn’t want to stay on Earth either; instead, it would rocket into space—violently. “It would be quite dangerous to people who encounter it,” says Kaku.

Full Story: Popular Mechanics

See also: Popular Mechanics on the science of LOST

What sort of “exotic material” would it take to punch through our reality into the television universe?

Quick thought on last night’s episodes – the time machine and the Invisibles?

The thing that stuck out from last night’s episode for me was the opening sequence: it reminds me of the time machine project from the Invisibles. For the unfamiliar: in the Invisibles, there was an occult corporate conspiracy (headed up by an Asian scientist, natch) building a time machine with, IIRC, help from information being received from the future.

I’ve mentioned the consciousness time travel bit from The Invisibles before

To be honest, I never quite figured out the narrative of the Invisibles there at the end, but I get the impression it’s supposed to be a game of some sort. Ben and Widmore are apparently playing some sort of game. Hmm.

LOST – overview of my current theories

Tonight’s the big night! In advance of tonight’s debut I thought I’d do a brief outline of what I’m thinking:

It’s every story in one

I first noticed this when trying to explain the appeal of the show. LOST is not just a survival drama – it’s also a medical drama, a crime show, a cop show, a sitcom, a sci-fi series, a Korean gangster series, and so much more. It just keeps growing in scope as to what genres it includes.

But it doesn’t stop at including all genres. Take a look through Lostpedia for a few theories about LOST being based on other stories or myths: The Tempest, Lost Continent (Atlantis, etc.), The Wizard of Oz, Gates of Hades, etc. Other possibilities include Shambhala.

Numerous literary works are referenced and many of them seem to have parallels with the series.

Then there are pop cultural sources such as Watchmen, The Stand, and, my favorite, The Prisoner.

So my theory is that LOST is an attempt to integrate as many stories as possible into one.

Time travel

I suspect time travel is responsible for most of the paranormal/supernatural phenomena that have occurred – Alpert’s apparent non-aging, the whispers, Walt appearing in places he shouldn’t be, appearances by the dead, moving the Island, etc. The “synchronicities” that occur regularly could be explained by time travels deliberately manipulating certain events.

Some things aren’t quite explained by this though – how can the whole island be physically moved while usually time travel is consciousness only? How does Walt do the bird killing thing? What the hell are numbers? How does the island heal the sick? Time travel might not be the grand unifying theory, but I’m guessing it will explain a lot.

Plenty of unanswered questions remain. Can’t wait for the debut!

Popular Mechanics on the science of Lost

Large Hadron Collider compared to dharma initiative logo

Above right: Large Hadron Collider Left: a Dharma Initiative logo

This Popular Mechanics article on “debunking” the science of Lost does little debunking and much fawning and speculating.

Michio Kaku, author of Physics of the Impossible, thinks the Lost creators are using cutting-edge science to lay the groundwork for a transversible wormhole to another point in space and time—a trip foreshadowed in an off-season video about the so-called Orchid station, which Lindelhof and Cuse promised would be a key to the next few episodes. “They’re amping up the energy to the point where space and time begin to tear, and the fabric begins to rip,” Kaku tells PM. “When the fabric of space and time begin to rip, things that we consider impossible become possible again.”

Full Story: Popular Mechanics (via Daily Grail)

See also: More LOST physics in Popular Mechanics.

Consciousness time travel: Paul Laffoley, the Invisibles, and the Voudon Gnostic Workbook

“paul laffoley The Time Machine : GEOCHRONMECHANE : From The Earth

Apparently, the way time travel works on Lost is movement of consciousness through time and space to experience “retrocognition of the past and occasions of precognition of the future.” The breathtaking occult art of Paul Laffoley has dealt with this subject for years, most notably in his painting The Time Machine : GEOCHRONMECHANE : From The Earth – the plans to build a working time machine. More info can be found on Paul Laffoley here. He can also be heard explaining his time travel plans in his lecture at Esozone 2007.

I’m also reminded of the occult action comic The Invisibles, which I reviewed here. Characters in the Invisibles use a consciousness projection technique to travel through space and time. The source for the time travel techniques of the Invisibles is the book The Voudon Gnostic Workbook, a collection of materials Michael Bertiaux used to instruct his cult in Chicago.

However, Michael Szul of Key 64 points out that the Invisibles can travel to places in time that they haven’t been and don’t need a “host body.” He suggests that the time travel in this episode is more reminiscent of Slaughterhouse Five. Lostpedia has this to say on the subject:

Desmond, during one of his flashbacks/time travels, speaks to someone else in the military with him. His friend’s name is Billy. Billy Pilgrim is the main character in Slaughterhouse Five. The narration of the story of Billy Pilgrim begins: “Listen. Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time.” When Desmond is with Daniel in 1996 and Daniel is about to experiment on Eloise, he says that he is going to unstick her in time. Also, the narrator of Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut, says that he likes to call old girlfriends late at night. Desmond calls Penelope at night. When Desmond spoke with Mrs. Hawking, she said that events are structured and that the universe will course correct. In Slaughterhouse Five, Billy Pilgrim explains that , according to the Tralfamadorians, aliens who can see the fourth dimension, time is structured and events cannot be changed (we are like bugs in amber). When asked about the end of the universe, the Tralfamadorians explain that one of their test pilots presses a button that destroys the universe. Billy asks why they cannot stop the pilot from pressing the button, and they reply that the pilot always has and always will press the button. The moment is structured that way. Desmond’s purpose, according to Mrs. Hawking, is to turn the key and he cannot avoid it. The moment is structured that way. Billy Pilgrim sees the future, and even predicts his own death. Desmond predicted Charlie’s death and other events on the island.

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