Time Travelers Throughout History

Time Travelers Throughout History

Evidence of time travel or exaggerated archive footage?


If our science fiction is in any way indicative, we humans love the idea of time travel. From Jules Verne to Russell T. Davies, writers have embraced the notion of being able to hop in a vessel and plow through to a different age. But sometimes our stories stray from what's distinctively fiction, creeping over to the realm of conspiracy or cultish speculation. 

There have been a few rounds of images on the internet that inspire immediate and rampant conviction that time travel is, in fact, real in the future--that we've been visited by people who have figured out the technology necessary to hop between years somewhere down the line. One such example comes in the form of a photograph from 1941. Taken at the opening ceremony for a new bridge in Canada's South Fork, British Columbia, the photograph features one man who rather stands out from the rest. Most people in the photograph look the way we expect people to look--in suits and dapper hats, indicative of what we might consider to be a more dignified time. But then, in the middle of the crowd, one guy stands completely hatless. He's not even wearing a suit, as we imagine would be considered proper for the age. He's even wearing sunglasses. This dude looks a little like someone you might find lurking around your local Urban Outfitters or music joint: he's got a bit of stubble going on, he's wearing a logo t-shirt under a dorky v-neck sweater, and he's holding what appears to be a vintage camera. What's he doing in 1941?

Another, possibly more famous example of time-traveler spotting comes from one film buff's find on the extra features of a Charlie Chaplin DVD. Upon scanning the crowd in behind-the-scenes footage of one of Chaplin's films, the viewer discovered something particularly odd: what appears to be an old woman talking on a cell phone. She's holding a black rectangle about the size of an iPhone to her ear. She looks exactly like any number of people walking down the street mid-conversation today--only she's doing it in 1928. 

Of course, despite the flickering of popular imagination, there are perfectly reasonable explanations for both of these images that don't involve time travel. The gentleman in the first photo may appear out of place, but actually wasn't dressed terribly abnormally for the time. After all, no one in the photograph seems alarmed by his appearance. His haircut is, in fact, period-correct. Decal shirts had been invented, as had sunglasses, and he's wearing a sweater jersey that was often worn by athletes. He's likely just a college athlete in sporting attire--not a time traveler. As for cell phone lady, hearing aids could look a lot like cell phones do now. She may appear to be talking, but it's also possible she's merely listening to what's happening around her. Besides, if she figured out how to travel from now all the way back to 1928, odds are she would have figured out how to construct a very small Bluetooth headset in order to pass more discreetly through period society. 

Recently, people have discovered that an actor living in the early 20th century bore a striking resemblance to Keanu Reeves--who himself never seems to age. Is he a time traveler, or maybe just immortal? Well, the actor, Paul Mounet, looks an awful lot like Keanu in one painting, but did in fact age and end up looking a lot more haggard by the time of his death in 1922. Still, an eternal Keanu Reeves is a concept I'm willing to give the benefit of a doubt, because what would the world be like without that deadpan stare?