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Time Travel: Taking a Look Back

Just recently I wrote an article here at Mysterious Universe that focused on a very strange 2010 affair. At the time, it caught the attention of the media on a huge scale. That’s hardly surprising, as it revolved around a mysterious woman who some said was nothing less than a time-traveler! It should be noted, however, that this is not the only case that made the news – and also to a massive degree. It’s a story which hit the news in 2012. The controversy began – but was initially overlooked, to a significant degree – in 2012, when a brief piece of old black and white footage was uploaded to YouTube. It appeared to show something amazing: a young woman speaking into a cell-phone! The footage is undeniably genuine. The big question, however, is what does it show? What can be said for sure is that the woman in white is holding something small and black to her ear. And she does appear to be speaking into it and engaging in conversation, all with a beaming smile on her face. As for the location, it has been identified as a Dupont factory in Leominster, Massachusetts. There’s no doubt at all about the place.

It’s important to note that the cell-phone, as a concept and then as an initial design, did not come to the fore until the early 1970s – thanks to the pioneering work of Motorola. And, it was not until the early 1980s that the first commercially available cell-phones went on sale. They were brick-sized, cumbersome things that today, look far more comical and absurd than they do revolutionary. Among the fairly small community of people that tracks alleged sightings of time-travelers, the debate as to what the footage showed rumbled on quietly. That all changed in 2013, when the media latched onto the story, the film went viral, and all sorts of theories and thoughts were trotted out to try and explain what it showed. The story that was given most publicity came via a source identified only as “Planetcheck,” a YouTube user who claimed that the woman in the film was her great-grandmother, said to be named Gertrude Jones. Planetcheck said: “I asked her about this video and she remembers it quite clearly. She says Dupont had a telephone communications section in the factory. They were experimenting with wireless telephones. Gertrude and five other women were given these wireless phones to test out for a week. Gertrude is talking to one of the scientists holding another wireless phone who is off to her right as she walks by.”

There are, however, problems with the claims of Planetcheck. First and foremost, she is wholly anonymous and has never come forward under her real name. Second, “Gertrude Jones” has never been formally identified. It would have been an easy thing to present evidence of Jones’ existence, and have the matter laid to rest very quickly. Rather ironically, the media – which is usually highly dismissive when the UFO research community relies upon anonymous sources – immediately embraced the words of Planetcheck and practically cited them as established fact, which they clearly were not. Moreover, despite the words of the anonymous YouTube user, no “scientist” can be seen, anywhere, in the film, using “another wireless phone who is off to her right.” There are other issues, too: the original posting to YouTube showing Planetcheck’s words was mysteriously removed – but not before both Yahoo News and the U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper copy-pasted her comments and saved them for posterity and publication, which included the following: “Maybe they decided it was too far advanced for people and they abandoned the idea. Ideas are hatched, prototypes are made and sometimes like this phone they are forgotten until somebody discovers some long lost film of the world first wireless phone and marvels at it.”

Then there is the outlandish claim of Planetcheck that the family still has the device, stored in what was described as a “glass box.” This is, clearly, absurd. If DuPont was testing some sort of early cell-phone way back in 1938, then the chances are that it – or they, depending on how many devices were made – would have been tested within the confines of the facility. Staff would certainly not have been allowed to take them home, or even keep them. Such a scenario is ridiculous. It speaks volumes that Planetcheck didn’t simply take a photo of the device in its box, and uploaded it to YouTube for all to see. In addition, there are the words of David Mikkelson, the founder of He said, quite correctly: “You can take any piece of WWII footage showing someone holding something to the side of their head talking, and claim it is a time traveling cell phone user. Film clips aren’t of sufficient resolution to see what the people are carrying. It could be anything from a handkerchief to a hearing aid, or who knows what. And this video is silent, so you can’t even tell if the person is engaged in a two-way conversation.”

Although highly skeptical of the whole affair, Mikkelson made two very valid points, which echo my words above: “I doubt it would have just been handed out to a young woman working at the factory. And why isn’t there documentation?” Mikkelson’s question is an important one, as there is no evidence that, back in 1938, DuPont was working on wireless telephones and was dishing them out to its employees – even to the extent of letting them take them home! Methinks that this is just a case of mistaken identity (but, of what I’m not sure) mixed with a few tall-tales and that got out of control – and nothing else.


Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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