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7 People Who Claimed To Be Time Travelers

Last week, a man named Alexander Smith claimed that he once travelled to the year 2118 as part of a top secret CIA mission.

As with all top secret CIA missions, Smith was able to share its details in a 20-minute YouTube video uploaded to ApexTV, in which he fielded a number of viewer questions on subjects including alien invasion, global warming, and artificial intelligence.

Ordinarily, you’d dismiss stories such as this one as a cautionary tale of the dangers of dabbling in hard drugs – but Smith, to his credit, was not without evidence to support his outlandish claim. He actually produced a photograph of a futuristic cityscape (which, by coincidence, looked not dissimilar to those depicted in Blade Runner).

Granted, it’s probably going to take more than this to make believers of the skeptics. After Back to the Future Part II, bringing back anything less than a sports almanac and a hoverboard is always going to seem like you’re not really trying.

But, at the very least, you have to concede that it’s kind of intriguing. We’ve been fascinated by tales of alleged time travel since the moment the idea was conceived of by writers of science fiction – and one or two of them seem halfway plausible if you are prepared to disregard so-called “facts” and “logic”.

7. Chaplin’s Time Traveller

Seven years ago, a filmmaker from Northern Ireland by the name of George Clarke claimed that he had discovered evidence for time travel in the DVD extras of The Circus, a Charlie Chaplin movie released in 1928.

The clip he uploaded to YouTube – taken from a video of the film’s premiere in Los Angeles – purports to show a woman speaking into a small, black device held up to the side of her head like one would a mobile phone.

How and to whom she would have been communicating with is anyone’s guess. Needless to say, they didn’t have any service carriers in the 1920s, and even if they did, this woman, whomever she was, would have been the only person to actually own a mobile.

It also seems slightly odd that she should have used the device so brazenly in such a public setting. This is perhaps a sign that, at some point in the future, time travel is no longer the preserve of shadowy government agencies but instead completely open to any member of the general public with enough money. A terrifying thought.

6. The Time Travelling Hipster

[Public Domain], Wikimedia Commons

Here’s another extremely sloppy time traveller – one who, unlike the woman in the Charlie Chaplin video, apparently didn’t even bother to try and blend in with the contemporary culture by buying some new clothes the very second he got there (which, as anyone who has seen Back to the Future will know, is an absolute prerequisite).

According to some, the above picture shows a man from our time (or perhaps a little earlier) casually standing amongst a group of onlookers from 1941 at the opening of the Gold Bridge in British Columbia, Canada.

And it’s not untrue to say that he does look a little out of place. He’s got sunglasses on, for one thing, and he appears to be wearing a button-up shirt over a T-shirt, a style that is ubiquitous now but wasn’t exactly all the rage back in the ’40s.

So-called “experts” have mostly dismissed the idea that the man in question could be a time traveller. They claim that, although his get-up was somewhat unusual for the era, all of the clothes seen therein were available to buy if you looked in the right stores.

5. John Titor

Stranger Dimensions

After capturing the attention of an internet forum at the turn of the millennium, alleged military time traveller John Titor supported his claim that he had been sent to the year 2036 with a series of predictions about the near-future.

You might have expected these to be vague and bereft of detail in the tradition of doomsday preachers, who regularly claim that the end of the world is definitely, maybe, perhaps coming in the next 10 to 200 years. But, in fact, many of them were pretty specific.

Titor claimed, for example, that the Olympic Games would soon be discontinued, that United States would descend into civil war in the aftermath of the 2004 US Presidential Election, and that long-awaited sequel World War III would finally break out in 2015.

Needless to say, none of this actually came true, although for some that’s still not evidence enough that the whole thing was little more than an elaborate hoax concocted by someone with too much time on their hands. Supporters of Titor would subsequently suggest that his predictions actually pertained to a timeline other than our own, which is an easy mistake to make.

4. Alexander Smith

That Alexander Smith story we alluded to in the intro probably deserves another look, mainly because it emerged recently enough that it hasn’t yet been formally revealed that the man in the video is actually an IT worker from Nebraska named Greg.

Our attempt to debunk it would probably go like this: first, Smith looks and sounds less like an old man who was alive in 1981 – when he claims the mission took place – than he does a young man playing an old man. He appears to be wearing a novelty mask of the kind seen in Point Break, and his manner of speech is comically over-the-top.

As for the picture, you can barely make it out because he only waves it in front of the camera for a few seconds before putting it away in his pocket (which seems odd given that he arranged an interview with this time travel-obsessed YouTube channel, and could have given them a copy to scan and display properly).

If the story is real – which it isn’t, but if it is – then what we can deduce about the future is that the sky in 100 years will be tinted with a red hue – possibly an affect of pollution – and that photo-capture technology will for some reason regress to the standards of the 1960s.

3. Hakan Nordkvist

The story of Hakan Nordkvist stands out from the list of time travel tales, insofar as he didn’t claim to move through time deliberately. Rather, he says he accidentally slipped through a serendipitous portal while attending to a pipe underneath his sink.

You might think that sounds fanciful, but the Swede actually recorded a video on his mobile to document it. It shows him bumping into a 70-year-old version of himself, and sharing a casual chat about the fact that they had matching tattoos on their lower right arms.

To be fair, the video definitely depicts a pair of bald Swedish blokes with the same body-ink. There’s no arguing with that. Granted, they could have just found two vaguely similar-looking bald men and drawn fake tattoos on them, but that seems like a lot of hassle.

No, this one is definitely legit. It definitely wasn’t just part of a viral marketing campaign designed to get people in Sweden thinking about their pension plans. That’d be ridiculous.

2. Andrew Carlisson

A man by the name of Andrew Carlisson was supposedly arrested by US authorities in 2003, after turning $800 into $350,000,000 with a series of high-risk trades in the stock market, leading to accusations of insider trading.

According to legend, the man told police that the explanation for his improbable run of fortune was that he was actually a time traveller who had gone back in time with the express intention of making his fortune in stocks and shares.

With the investigators (quite understandably) skeptical of his claims, Carlisson offered to give them clues about things like the location of Osama Bin Laden and the cure for AIDS in return for his release, so desperate was he to get back to his time machine.

The story ends with him being mysteriously granted bail and then abruptly disappearing without a trace. It’s this part (along with all the of the parts) that makes you doubt whether it all wasn’t just some media hoax designed to sell a few extra papers. But really, what’s more likely: the media being dishonest, or this guy breaking the known laws of physics?

1. The Philadelphia Experiment

New World Pictures

The Philadelphia Experiment sits alongside the Roswell Incident and the New World Order in the list of things the US government claims aren’t really things, but that internet conspiracy theorists with low-grade camera equipment absolutely insist are.

Here, the military is claimed to have rendered one of its ships temporarily invisible to enemies during a top secret mission in October 1943. They achieved this, so it is said, by travelling about 10 minutes back in time.

This one, to be fair, does seem slightly more plausible than most. Going a few minutes into the past by messing around with electromagnetic and gravitational forces beneath the seabed is a lot more believable than the concept of a time machine in which you literally punch in your intended destination like a microwave.

But authorities have always denied that such an experiment took place at all, and the science behind it is sketchy at best. As with most of the stories on this list, it’s almost completely unfalsifiable – you just have to decide whether to believe the experts or the kind of people who dress their heads in tin foil.

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