- 11.02.10 - 12:30PM
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- Jay Hathaway
A History of Time Travelers on the Internet, From John Titor to the Charlie Chaplin Cell Phone Lady
When a lady who seemed to be talking on a cell phone was discovered in a 1928 Charlie Chaplin movie, the internet cried "time traveler!" There could be other reasonable explanations, but time travel is one of the most beloved online conspiracy theories around, and huge numbers people on the web will support any remotely plausible theory about time travelers. The lady with the "cell phone" is hardly the first example.
Here's Urlesque's history of time travelers on the internet, from John Titor to the cell phone lady to the 1835 painting that looks like an actor from "The Office." We've rounded up the evidence, and it's up to you whether you choose to believe. Time travelers, or just our imaginations running away with us?
Back in the year 2000, a man named John Titor captured the internet's imagination with his tales of traveling back in time from the year 2036. Titor wrote of a future where nuclear war had devastated the planet, the United States entered a new civil war, and a massive computer meltdown could only be stopped by a computer from 1975, which Titor had been sent to retrieve. Concidentally, yesterday was the 10th anniversary of John Titor's first appearance online: November 1, 2000.
Violent Civil War didn't break out in the U.S., as Titor predicted. His claim that there would be no Olympic Games after 2004 also didn't come true. Also, no miniature black holes have been generated by scientists at CERN (none that we know of, anyway). Of course, Titor claimed that quantum physics allows for many possible future worlds, which would make his predictions impossible to prove false. According to his own model of physics, any of the events he foretold could have happened in another universe. Orrrr he's just a dude making up stories.
Charlie Chaplin Cell Phone Lady
A woman seen in footage from the 1928 Charlie Chaplin film The Circus seems to be holding up a small, cell-phone shaped object to her ear. People on the internet have posed the theory that the woman is a time traveler, making calls to the future.
Although cell phone towers didn't exist in 1928, making it unlikely that a phone would even work back then, someone with the technology to time travel could have advanced wireless communication technology we don't know about. Maybe her time machine is a satellite, for example. In 1928, walkie-talkies still required transmitters carried in heavy backpacks, so we can rule those out. Hearing aids of that time also needed to be connected to an amplifier the size of a pack of playing cards, but a wire could be hidden under the woman's coat. The most likely possibility seems to be the Siemens pocket-sized hearing aid, which came on the market in 1924, but some think it's an even older hearing device. Cracked.com offers even more explanations, and some of them are pretty hilarious. (It's an old banana? LOL.)
The Office's John Krasinski in a Painting from 1835
This Danish painting from 1835 depicts actor John Krasinski, who plays Jim on TV's "The Office," during a time travel expedition. Either that, or it's a complex marketing campaign for "The Office."
Take a look at the painting for yourself. According to the museum housing the painting, it depicts a soap factory owner named Carl Adolf Feilberg, a friend of the artist. The Washington Post was able to get a comment from John Krasinski, who denied time traveling. His official statement: "Wow! Seems a little highbrow for NBC marketing. ... But I like it!"
Safety Not Guaranteed
A mulleted time traveler became a meme on the popular animation site YTMND, with his face posted next to a newspaper classified ad seeking a time traveling companion. "Safety not guaranteed," reads the ad, "I have only done this once before. The "Safety Not Guaranteed" meme even appeared on Jay Leno, and got a video remix starring the voice of "movie trailer guy" Don LaFontaine.
The ad says "this is not a joke," so it must be real ... right?
The Immortal Keanu Reeves
Before Keanu Reeves was sad, he was immortal. This theory from 2009 posits that the reason Keanu Reeves never seems to look any older is because he's actually a French actor named Paul Mounet, who "died" in 1922. Perhaps Keanu is sad because he can't ever die!
The young Mounet does look a lot like Keanu, and his body was apparently never found. On the other hand, photos of an older, bearded Mounet don't look much like the modern-day Mr. Reeves.
Time Traveling Hipster
A 1940 photo from a bridge opening in British Columbia, Canada, depicts a hipster who has traveled back in time from the present day.
The man's t-shirt, sunglasses and camera are all consistent with those of a contemporary young Brooklynite. Photos from two different angles seem to prove that he wasn't digitally inserted into the original photograph. On the other hand, everything he's wearing was actually available in 1940. This photo might only prove that fashion moves in cycles.
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