Apr 26, 2010 I Micah Hanks

Wanton Leap: Time Travel for Hipsters?

Some think it's impossible... but others say it's inevitable. As far out as something like time travel might appear, perhaps the inherent inevitability would be, rather than its existence, the expectation that some would go so far as to claim that they are living proof, having traveled to the past on missions overseen by future Earth societies.

For as long as sci-fi pulp magazines have published the adventures of space wanderers and time travelers, fringe weirdos have engaged in a healthy doses of claims of this sort of thing themselves. Historically, such instances often deal with UFO abductees claiming to have ridden on advanced craft capable of warping both space and time, having interacted with aliens who depict future cataclysms here on Earth by unsavory political endeavors in our future. In at least one incident, Andrew Carlssin, a man accused of Wall Street insider-trading, skipped town after claiming his information came from knowledge of future events, which he garnered from his "home" era: the year 2256!

The notion of time travel also began to overlap with various theories surrounding the alleged (and infamous) "Philadelphia Experiment," asserted through a series of correspondences by a shady character calling himself Carlos Allende. But arguably, one of the more popular "controversies" to have arisen in recent times pertaining to time travelers from the future deals with the story of a man calling himself "John Titor." Popularized by the late night radio program Coast to Coast AM, Titor became a controversial figure after posting information about himself on various Internet message forums years ago, detailing a bizarre story about traveling to our time from the future and meeting his immediate family members, as well as his own youthful alternate-self.

If you hadn't guessed already, what is the number one thing these wild claims always tend to lack? Indeed, it is far more seldom than professed time traveling abilities that those who make such assertions present evidence with their claims. And yet, from time to time strange bits of evidence, such as odd photographs depicting out-of-place events, do appear that have caused historians and scholars to wonder.

Recently, a couple of photographs from the early 1940s taken in British Columbia, Canada, have been making the rounds. In particular, the popular website Forgetomori has done some nice write-ups about a "hipster" seen at the re-opening of a bridge. In the image below, can you spot the individual who simply doesn't appear to belong with the rest of the crowd?

Take a second look at the man on the right side of the page... he's wearing dark sunglasses and a sweater with a printed shirt underneath that just doesn't seem to fit the setting or circumstances. Might this decade-dodging individual fit in better alongside the college-aged youth of today? Is this real proof of time travelers lurking around throughout history?

Mori, the blogger at the site in question, offers a different perspective:

Even taking this photo for granted, as depicting an authentic scene, a real man with his curious glasses and outfit in Canada 70 years ago, there’s nothing that can be seen that is actually out of place or time. He looks different from other people, but it has already been suggested that he’s using welding goggles and a glove.

"This," he concludes, "is not much of a proof of time travel, and more like evidence of the cyclic nature of fashion. These days, even a beggar can be mistaken for a trendy fashion model." Even for the 1940s, let alone today, I don't know that I'd go so far as to say that welding goggles were the accessory of any fashion models I recall ever seeing! But to be fair, maybe this wouldn't be the case for a time traveler... what if he was merely visiting from a future where the breakdown in the ozone layer causes Earth to be bombarded with radiation so dangerous that welding goggles must be worn by everyone during daylight hours?

Nah... weighing the options, I'm 98.7 % certain this character was just a hipster; a slightly eccentric young observer who never would have guessed that his presence the day this photograph was taken might fuel such bizarre speculation about his origins more than half a century later. Regardless of the truth surrounding his presence in the photo above, it's always fun to speculate about such things, right? After all, with physicists drawing nearer each day to understanding the science behind such things as time travel, we may be closer than we realize to unraveling this long-pondered mystery of space and the cosmos.

Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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