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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Time travel 

This came up in conversation with David yesterday but I thought I'd bring it up here in case anyone felt like answering it.

Imagine a total stranger approached you and said they were from a few hundred years in the future. What, if anything, would convince you that the person was telling the truth?


To make the question a real challenge let's assume they could bring nothing with them except the clothes they were wearing.

David started this with a reference to a comic book we both read in the 70s called Look-in. There was a story based on the series Timeslip in which some children travelled back to the 17th century London. They "proved" to a man that they were from the future by showing him their clothes which were "far too fine to be produced by any loom". That's a bit weak to be honest, especially now. Could anyone wear anything that would be so obviously anachronistic?

There are the standard answers of giving people lottery numbers or the winners of horse races but from the point of view of even only a few years in the future, would details like that be remembered? Can you, without looking, tell me what the winning lottery numbers were six months ago?

As a related aside, there's an interesting site that I stumbled over a few years ago about a man called John Titor who made postings on the internet and claimed to be from the future. The debates are still raging. He attempted to prove that he was from the future by making predictions about upcoming historical and scientific events but most were a long way off and obviously of no practical value in providing immediate proof.

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