For some worldly-wise Internet users, the story of John Titor is nothing new, although there are still numerous people who have yet to come across this online curiosity which is steadily gaining status as an urban legend. In the five years since his absence John Titor has spawned a book, a theatre performance and rumours of a movie, as well as plenty of webpages attempting to prove or disprove his claims to be a time-traveller visiting us from the near future.
Starting on 2 November, 2000 and continuing for a period of about five months, someone calling themselves Timetravel_0 began posting to a number of online time travel-related message boards claiming to be a time-traveller from the year 2036. The first websites Timetravel_0 posted to include the Art Bell site1 and the Time Travel Institute site. After a while Timetravel_0 changed his name to John Titor, although this apparently was not his real name.
Why Was He Here?
Titor said he had travelled back in time because he was a soldier from the year 2036 who was recruited to a government time travel project. He had initially been sent back to 1975 to retrieve an IBM 5100 portable computer which was needed to translate between some legacy IBM systems and UNIX. He claimed the IBM 5100 was able to do this due to certain in-built functions that were not documented when it was manufactured. When Titor left our timeline, some IBM engineers apparently came forward to verify his claims about the IBM 5100. After collecting the IBM 5100 Titor then travelled to the year 2000 because, he said, he wanted to visit his family and his younger self, and to see the effects of the Millennium Bug. There is a story that Titor sent faxes to the Art Bell site in 1998 saying the Millennium Bug would cause chaos, but when asked on the bulletin boards why this had not happened he said he had intervened to prevent it.
During his stay in 2000/2001 Titor made it clear his objective was not to convince anyone he was a genuine time-traveller, rather he was simply posting messages to gauge people's responses to meeting someone from their future. He was very willing to hold question and answer sessions as well as give information on his time machine, share his perspective on our present world, and to make a number of predictions about the future, including how our present society will end in 2015 in a brief but devastating global nuclear war. He also posted a number of pictures of his time machine and scans from a technical manual showing its schematics. Possibly one of the most notable (if poorer quality) pictures he posted showed the time machine warping the light from a laser pen due to its 'gravity displacement'. For these reasons, as well as any lack of gain or profit he could make from his assertions, some people have been willing to accept Titor as a genuine time-traveller.
On 24th March, 2001 Titor said he was going to return to his own time and, in spite of a number of obvious hoaxers, has not been heard of since. It is claimed there is a video showing Titor returning to his own time although it has not yet made its way onto the Internet.
Titor's time machine
Titor described his time machine as a 'C204 time distortion gravity displacement machine' built by General Electrics in 2034. It weighed approximately 500 pounds and was transported in a 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible, which also acted as Titor's vessel as he travelled through time. The vehicle did not move through space but remained stationary with the engine switched off. Some time later the time machine was removed from the Corvette and placed in a 1987 four wheel drive truck and the Corvette was sold, which has led to speculation about where it may now be and who bought it.
According to Titor there were six main components to his time machine:
- Two magnetic housing units for dual micro singularities
- An electron injection manifold to alter mass and gravity micro singularities
- A cooling and X-ray venting system
- Gravity sensors, or a variable gravity lock (VGL)
- Four main caesium clocks
- Three main computer units
In his descriptions Titor explained that his time machine was a stationary mass, temporal displacement unit powered by 'two top-spin, dual positive singularities', producing a 'standard off-set Tipler sinusoid2'. Essentially, the time machine was based on two rotating micro singularities operating similarly to a single ring singularity spinning at high speed. The mass and gravitational pull of this micro singularity was manipulated by injecting electrons onto its surface, replicating the effects of a Kerr-Newman black hole, thus (it would seem) enabling time travel.
After Titor fed coordinates into his time machine there would be a 'ramp up' period while an audible alarm sounded as well as a flashing light, followed by a countdown. Titor would then feel the pull of up to 2Gs due to the gravity generated by the machine, and the vehicle would appear to speed up as light was bent around it. Except for supplies of compressed air, the only source of oxygen would be an air pocket trapped around the vehicle. Titor estimated the speed of travel at around ten years per hour, and the time machine's accuracy of travel at up to sixty years, although he said this was expected to be improved upon by researchers in his own time.
According to Titor the nature of time travel and what can be expected is explained through the Everett-Wheeler model of quantum physics, or as it is sometimes called, the Many Worlds Theory3, which Titor stated had been proved to be correct. Simplistically, this means that every event that can have more than one outcome will result in every possible outcome, and each possibility is the origin point of a new parallel universe, or world line. The relevance of this for time travel Titor explained, is that the traveller does not enter their own past because their presence would cause changes which in turn would create an ever-expanding set of world lines. Instead the time traveller enters a closely related world line where their presence would not cause this incalculable level of world lines.
Most of what Titor has said of events between 2000 and 2036 centre on a third World War followed by two decades of ongoing recuperation. According to Titor, the period of conflict begins at the time of the American Presidential elections of 2004/5 when the seeds for a second American civil war are germinated. The nature of the conflict is described as civil unrest brought on by intrusive police-state tactics, which leads to an increasing number of Waco or Ruby Ridge-type events, peaking at approximately one per week. Eventually urban and rural areas are openly pitched against each other. Titor claimed that at the age of thirteen he had joined a shotgun militia to fight on the side of the rural army. By 2008 it is popularly realised the pre-civil war conditions that existed within America are lost for good.
By 2015 the civil war is effectively ended when Russia begins a series of nuclear strikes on most major American cities therefore eliminating the federal government. Most major urban areas worldwide are also badly affected through a tit-for-tat series of nuclear strikes, with a death count of approximately three billion people. The areas worst affected are Europe, Africa and Australia.
By 2036 the world has changed considerably. America is now made up of five states with Nebraska as the capital and consists of decentralised, tightly-knit rural communities. There is a greater emphasis on religion, personal interaction (as opposed to mass media), as well as self-sufficiency with people expected to work for part of the day in the fields to produce food. Water is still contaminated with radioactivity and needs to be filtered. In spite of the war and the efforts to construct this new society from the remains of the old, technology does not seem to be too badly affected. Titor mentioned a system of rapid rail travel between cities, space travel, genetic engineering and of course time travel.
Besides the American civil conflict and a third World War Titor made a number of other significant predictions:
America will wage war on Iraq, claiming Iraq has nuclear weapons. Titor made this statement years before a war with Iraq was considered. He also claimed no weapons of mass destruction would be found.
War will erupt between Israel and its Arab neighbours, and weapons of mass destruction will be used.
Korea, Taiwan and Japan will be annexed by China as the West becomes unstable.
In the early 2000's CERN will lay the foundations for time travel. In the autumn of 2001 after Titor had left, CERN released a statement indicating the creation of mini black holes was possible.
Mad cow disease will be a health issue in America but it will be under-played.
Genetically modified food will be used to produce hybrid seeds that will have detrimental effects on the population's health.
Titor made a number of statements about constitutional and civil rights in America. He also said the American government will assume its citizens will prefer security over certain personal freedoms.
The future will judge the present harshly.
Since the Many Worlds Theory is, according to Titor, accurate, this has implications for Titor's claim to be a time-traveller and how his predictions for our future can be evaluated. If Titor is to be believed we need to accept he is visiting from another closely-related time line with its subtle differences from our own. Consequently we can expect some of his predictions for the future to be false for us, but since according to Titor there is only a two per cent discrepancy between the two timelines, there is a good possibility some of his predictions will be fulfilled. Therefore, as the time approaches for each of his predictions to occur, eventually the probability of Titorís claim that he is a time traveller will increase either towards being true or towards being false, depending on whether the prediction is fulfilled.
The story of John Titor has been circulating on the Internet for almost five years, with some people attempting to provide proof this is simply a prolonged hoax, while others put forward arguments and evidence to support Titor's claim to be a time-traveller from the year 2036. The arguments against Titor are, however, quite damning. For instance, it has been demonstrated that the picture showing the laser light being bent was faked, and Titor's explanation of using mini black holes to time travel is scientifically impossible. Also, if Titor had intervened as he said to prevent the disasters caused by the Millennium Bug, then by his own explanation of the Many Worlds Theory of quantum mechanics, our world line would have diverged radically from his own4. This would mean his predictions would be all but irrelevant for our world line5. More fundamentally, it is a given of time travel theory6 that a time machine cannot travel beyond the date it was built. Therefore, if Titor began time-travelling in 2036 he could not have travelled any further back than 2034, since according to him the time machine was first constructed on this date.
For those who want to discover the truth for themselves there are a number of websites with archives of Titor's messageboard postings. Perhaps one of the best of these archives is the Abovetopsecret website. If you scratch around the Internet you will come across more and more bits of information about John Titor and you will quickly be able to decide for yourself whether there is any substance to his claims to be a time-traveller. In the final analysis, however, perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the story of John Titor is the fact that this phenomenon, which could so easily have been ignored, has engaged so many people for so long. The story is recounted and discussed on many websites and people have expended a lot of time and energy in support for or against Titor's claims. It is also remarkable for a story of this nature to span so many media forms, ranging from a book to a ballet!