Looking for the Future in Your Dreams

clocksWhat if you could find bits and pieces of the future in your dreams?

Here at True Pictures, we are fascinated by stories and ideas about the mysteries of time.

Back in 1925, engineer and philosopher J. W. Dunne published An Experiment in Time, a long-form essay arguing that we see bits of the past, present and future all jumbled up in our dreams.

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The 10,000 Year Journey Home

2871333638_4a15219343_oWhat if it took you ten thousand years to get home?

Inspired by popular speculation that Keanu Reeves could be a time traveler and this photograph, Reddit writer americanpegasus wrote a short story in a conversation thread.

The story imagines Keanu’s epic journey across time to reunite with his wife after a time travel accident.

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Write a Letter To a Time Traveler


If time travel is invented, would a time traveler come back to get you?

A writer nicknamed Time Travel Jake has created a simple “Come Back & Get Me” website where anyone can leave messages for time travelers. The hope is that someday, one of these visitors will come find you in the past and let you visit the future.

Here’s more about the site:

“When I was a young boy, I once day dreamt about time travel. I must have spent some mental energy on this concept because one day I had this epiphany: though I cannot time travel right now, this does not foretell that it is indefinitely impossible. So if time travel is possible at some point in the future, all I have to do is ask them to: “Come back and get me”. How was I going to ask this question? My best answer, leave it on a note attached to my last will and testament. I would then hope of it being pasted down, surviving the hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of years before time travel becomes a reality.”

Follow this link to visit the time travel message site and leave your letter. The creator acknowledged that “there are countless paradoxes my theory would encounter,” but added his hope that “future time-farers have figured it all out.”

One reader responded:

I’ve already been contacted. Thanks a bunch! ūüôā I’ve made arrangements to retire in 1920’s Paris. I need to keep it quiet, though, because my great grandson is taking quite a bit of risk to do this for me. It’s not exactly condoned by the government.

Finally, the creator of the site added a message–reminding us all to dream a little bigger about the future…

I don’t doubt my mission is preposterous, but that is not my only theme. When I look around me, I see a bland world void of imagination. My hope with sharing is to find others who have open minds and do not take this life so seriously. Who knows what may happen?

(Image via Imurf)

Virtual Time Travel

romeIf you could simulate any moment in history, what time period would you choose?

Time travel is still science fiction, but our powers of digital simulation are increasing every single day. Instead of waiting for a time machine, a team of researchers have created a gorgeous simulation of ancient Rome.

You can explore the ancient site with this gorgeous video from the Khan Academy, getting a guided tour from a history professor.

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Tom Sawyer & Time Travel


What if you measured your lifetime against the slow drip of water inside a cave?

In Mark Twain’s great novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, an¬†evil character gets locked inside a cave without food or water. In a long passage, Twain pondered the nature of time–showing how truly small any human life is when measured against cosmic time frames.

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Building a Digital Time Machine

booksWhat if you could use tools like Google or Facebook to visit the past?

Frederic Kaplan, the digital humanities chair at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, is working on a massive 10-year data mining project, digitizing the historical archives of Venice–a European city with a paper trail that is 80 kilometers long.

In an inspiring TEDx talk, he proposed a digital time machine that would let readers explore this archive. He explained:

Is it possible to build something like Google Maps of the past? Can I add a slider on top of Google Maps and just change the year, seeing how it was 100 years before, 1,000 years before? Is that possible? Can I reconstruct social networks of the past? Can I make a Facebook of the Middle Ages?

Using these records, Kaplan hopes to create an archive you can search by keyword, but also by time period. Once completed, readers can actually go back in time and explore how the city looked (and worked) during different moments in history. These records capture an immense amount of detail, from city leaders to boat schedules to city construction projects.

Kaplan concluded:

This is what I call the information mushroom. Vertically, you have the time. and horizontally, the amount of digital information available. Obviously, in the last 10 years, we have much information. And obviously the more we go in the past, the less information we have. If we want to build something like Google Maps of the past, or Facebook of the past, we need to enlarge this space, we need to make that like a rectangle.

You can watch the whole video below. What city would you want to explore through a digital time machine?

(Photo via lungstruck)

Time Travelers on Twitter


What if we could find time travelers through a clever series of Twitter posts?

Robert J. Nemiroff and Teresa Wilson at Michigan Technological University’s Department of Physics constructed a unique experiment searching social networks for time travelers, combing Google and Twitter for “prescient” content that only a time traveler could post.

In September 2013, they made a public post asking any time travelers to respond via a Twitter hashtag–posting either “#ICanChangeThePast2” or “#ICannotChangeThePast2” on the social network in August 2013.¬†They hoped to generate responses one month before the original post, proving the existence of time travel. Here’s more about the Twitter hashtags:

A message incorporating the hashtagged term “#ICannotChangeThePast2” would indicate that time travel to the past is possible but that the time traveler believes that they do not have the ability to alter the authors’ past. A universe where the past cannot be changed is termed as having a “fixed history”, where history can be regarded as a single timeline. Such universes may uphold the Novikov Self-Consistency Conjecture¬†…¬†Conversely, a message incorporating the hashtagged term “#ICanChangeThePast2” would indicate that time travel to the past is possible and that the time traveler can demonstrate the ability to alter the authors’ past.

Facebook would not work for this experiment, since users have the ability to back-date posts. Sadly, no time travelers actively responded to the post and the scientists found no evidence of prescient content scattered around the Internet.

However, the story has generated a mountain of press coverage for the experiment, so there is still time for time travelers to respond to the hashtag request.¬†As you can see by visiting both the¬†“#ICanChangeThePast2” or “#ICannotChangeThePast2,” lots of Twitter writers have used the hashtag.

Can you spot any time travelers among these posts? I recommend starting with “ICannotChangeThePast2,” the place for time travelers to post if they are not able to change the past…

Unfortunately, as of this writing, no prescient tweets or emails were received. Given the additional exposure that the public listing of this manuscript gains, we will continue to search, on occasion, for active tweets and emails involving potential time travel.

You can download a free copy of “Searching the Internet for evidence of time travelers” at this link.

(Image via Finlay, an illustration for “The Stars, My Brothers.”)