by OLIVER WILLIAMS
Time Travel: John Titor’s Startling Predictions Is it possible to travel back in time? A man calling himself John Titor claims it is. In fact, Titor says that he is a time traveler from the year 2036. These pronouncements and others were made on various Internet forums and chat rooms from November 2000 to March 2001, ending when Titor went back to the future—or so the story goes. Since then a cult industry has sprung up, attracting the attention of tens of thousands of Web surfers, both true believers and naysayers.
Why are you posting messages on the Internet?
JOHN TITOR: I’ve been trying to alert anyone to the possibility of a civil war in the United States. To see it unfold is very interesting. I realize no one will actually believe me, and I’m not sure you should.
Tell us how the war started. Who was involved? Who won?
Civil war in the United States will start in 2005. The conflict flares up and down, but the year 2008 was a general date when everyone realized the world they were living in was over.
Time Travel: John Titor’s Startling Predictions When the civil conflict got worse, people generally decided to either stay in the cities and lose most of their civil rights under the guise of security, or leave the cities for more isolated and rural areas. The conflict consumed everyone in the U.S. by 2012 and ended with a very short World War III.
How can we survive the war?
If you want to survive the coming conflict, learn to let fear keep you alive. Too many of you turn off the life-saving natural instincts and premonitions when it’s convenient. The same person who has five dead-bolt locks on their door will think nothing about getting into a parking-garage elevator with a total stranger. If you want to live, keep your eyes open.
How does your time machine work?
The basics of time travel will begin for you at CERN in about a year when they announce their ability to create microsingularities, and end in 2034 with the building of the first “time machine.” The unit I have is called a GE C204 gravity-distortion unit. It’s about 5-feet-long and 2-feet-by-2-feet square. The C204 unit is accurate from 50 to 60 years a jump and travels at about ten years an hour at 100% power.
During operation the C204 is usually placed inside a vehicle. The gravity field generated by the unit overtakes you very quickly. You feel a tug toward the unit similar to rising quickly in an elevator, and it continues to rise based on the power setting. Outside, the vehicle appears to accelerate as the light is bent around it. After that, it appears to fade to black and remains totally black outside the vehicle until the unit is turned off.
Can you travel to a place and time of your choice?
The distortion unit has operational limits. The unit I have begins to “break away” at about 60 years. In other words, if I wanted to go back 2,000 years and meet Christ, there is a good chance I would end up on a worldline where he was never born.
What would happen if you met yourself in another timeline?
Nothing would happen. The universe is made up of infinite worldlines where everything is possible and has a 100% chance of happening. Therefore, there are no paradoxes. The Everett-Wheeler Model is correct. [There exist parallel universes in which anything that can happen does happen.] It has always surprised me why that concept is so hard for people to imagine and accept. I have met or seen myself twice on different worldlines. I was born in 1998; so the other “me” is two [years old] on your worldline.
How does your original worldline differ from ours?
The fact that I’m here makes it different. I would guess the temporal divergence between this worldline and my original is about 2%. Of course, the longer I am here, the larger that divergence becomes from my point of view. I get home by going back before I arrived and then going forward to 2036. If I go forward to “your” 2036 now, it would probably look nothing like mine. Under multiple-world theory, there are an infinite number of “homes” that I could return to that don’t have me there. I can never get back to the exact worldline I left, but I can get back to a worldline that is so close, no one would know the difference.
Why do people travel in time?
The reason we use time travel in 2036 is to get information or items that would be helpful in 2036. Right now most of our practical missions are from 1960 to 1980. I was sent to 1975 to get an IBM computer system called the 5100. It was one of the first portable computers made with the unique ability to read older IBM programming languages. We need the system in 2036 to “debug” various legacy programs that are used in larger mainframe computers.
Can you tell us what 2036 is like?
In 2036 I live in Florida with my family, and I’m currently stationed at an Army base in Tampa. I was born in 1998; so I do share some childhood memories with all of you. Life is centered more on the family and then the community. I cannot imagine living even a few hundred miles away from my parents. People spend more time talking to each other and their neighbors. I’ve noticed the same effect here when the power goes off.
There is a lot more personal trust and less paranoia. There is no large industrial complex creating masses of useless food and recreational items. Food and livestock are grown and sold locally. People spend much more time reading. Religion is taken seriously, and everyone can multiply and divide in their heads.
What can you tell us about our immediate future?
Since I will eventually be leaving this worldline, I could easily tell you all sorts of things that would happen in the next few years. Unfortunately, your worldline is already 2% different from mine, and there’s no way to give you absolute facts about future events. When the day comes for my “prediction” to be realized, it may happen or it may not. In fact, the information I give you will allow someone to affect the outcome based on the prediction itself. If what I say does happen, then your ability to judge your environment is crippled by your acceptance of me as a prophet. If I am wrong, then everything I have said that might possibly have made you think about your world in a different way is suddenly discredited. I do not want either. You are able to change your worldline just as I am. Can you stop the civil war before it gets here? Sure. Will you do it? Probably not.
What are the major health concerns in the future?
A great many people are still dying from CJD [Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease]. I want to emphasize how devastating this disease will be for you in the future. We only eat meat that we raise ourselves. Do not eat or use products from any animal that is fed and eats parts of its own dead. The “Mad Cow” story here is yet to begin.
What does time travel do to religion?
Since every possible outcome, event and possibility is happening and will happen, then all good and all evil must balance out in the universe. After the reality of multiple worlds sank into our collective thought, the one basic change to all religious dogma is the concept that good and evil does not exist as an organized force in our lives, nor can it be used as a useful way to judge what God may think of a situation.
Good and evil are personal experiences that can only guide what we do as individuals and how we relate to others. This outlook also makes it impossible for me to judge any other person or event. Since we cannot see the entire universe as God sees it, we will never be gods or be capable of accurately judging anything outside of ourselves. My actions can only be judged as good and bad by me and my God.
Does the ability to know what’s going to occur help convince people you’re a time traveler?
Consider that you are a time traveler who goes back in time to the first week of February 1970, and you are confronted with the same problem. What do you remember right now about the second week of February 1970?
Naturally, the conflict in Vietnam and the Middle East came up, but as someone has already stated here, that wouldn’t be any more convincing than it is now. I suppose I could predict the failure of the Apollo 13 spacecraft, but since time travel is ridiculous, I would be blamed for sabotage.
What surprises you the most about our time period?
I like the incredible freedom you have, but I see it as a trap. The cost is the loss of your sense of connection with family and community. Yes, you can self-actualize your ambitions, but at what cost to the people around you or yet to be born? The incredible availability of art, literature and limitless resources is hardly taken advantage of as you sit in front of your TVs every day.
What would our government do if they found you?
I would probably end up in a nice little padded cell while they poked at my machine with a screwdriver. I’m really not that worried. First, they would have to believe in time travel; and second, stupidity and greed are fairly predictable. In my experience, evil may be powerful, but it isn’t very bright.
How did you feel about the President in 2005 and 2009?
The President or “leader” in 2005 tried desperately to hold the country together, but many of their policies drove a larger wedge into the Bill of Rights. The President in 2009 was interested only in keeping his/her power base.
Do you think that war is immoral?
I disapprove of murder. Man as a species is incapable of changing his nature through will alone, and war is a tool of biology. The ability for war sleeps in each one of us, and we must decide what we will do before it awakens. As for morality, again I point to the universal balance of good and evil. For every worldline where there is peace, there is a worldline that has destroyed itself.
It sounds as if you think a war would benefit us.
I have an example that’s closer to my situation: You are a time traveler who wishes to go back in time to 1941 because your grandparents live close to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. You realize you can’t stop the war, but you may be able to help them prepare for it. Strangely, December 7 comes and goes with no sneak attack. As the war in Europe rages on, Japan fails to join the Axis power, there is no war in the Pacific, and the United States remains neutral. Then you watch as Germany begins to develop the atomic bomb all by itself. What would you do?
As far as war goes, I have faith you are quite capable of starting one all by yourself. I am hard pressed to accept any criticism of my outlook on that subject. Personal responsibility, determination, honor, friendship and self-reliance are not just words we fantasize about in the future. I watch every day what you are doing as a society. While you sit by and watch your Constitution being torn away from you, you willfully eat poisoned food, buy manufactured products no one needs and turn an uncaring eye away from millions of people suffering and dying all around you.
Perhaps I should let you all in on a little secret. No one likes you in the future. This time period is looked at as being full of lazy, self-centered, civically ignorant sheep. Perhaps you should be less concerned about me and more concerned about that. I think a war would be good for you and your society. I don’t want to stop it, nor would I if I could.
Is there anything you want us to know before you return to 2036?
One very disturbing thing I have noticed about your society is your blind acceptance of what you are told. Do you really think the news industry doesn’t have an agenda? Do you really think those hamburgers you stuff into your body are safe?
Do you really think your government is telling you the truth? What proof do you have of any of that?
I often hear, “If time travel is real, where are all the time travelers?” Quite frankly, you all scare the hell out of us. In trying to help you, we put ourselves at great risk, and there’s really no point to it. Since worldlines, outcomes and events are infinite, we have better things to do.
TIME ON HIS SIDE?
Despite John Titor’s repeated assertion, “My goal is not to be believed,” the Internet is rife with skirmishes between ardent disciples and skeptics. Here are the main bones of contention:
In 2000 Titor declared, “The basics for time travel start at CERN in about a year.” Six months later, news stories emerged announcing that scientists at CERN (European Center for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland were confident that its new atom-smasher would create mini-black holes, the same kinds of singularities John Titor claimed to use. As Titor was posting, it was known that CERN’s colossal particle-accelerator would soon be brought online and that scientists there intended to make artificial black holes.
In 2001 Titor said there would be a “devastating” breakout of Mad Cow in the U.S., leading to widespread death from Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), the human variant of the brain-wasting malady. In 2003 the USDA announced the first documented case of Mad Cow in the U.S. amid claims that the government was suppressing the true extent of the problem. On that note, Johns Hopkins researchers have recently estimated that 10% of Alzheimer’s cases may actually be CJD. Debunkers say that a wave of Mad Cow wouldn’t have been hard to predict, since Europe’s epidemic was already under way, and it was just a matter of time before it hit the U.S.
Titor maintained that he went back to 1975 to retrieve a vintage IBM 5100 computer that had a secret code-reading capability, which IBM kept under wraps. A former company programmer has since confirmed that the 5100 had an interface between the assembly code and the emulator beneath it, allowing programmers access to all IBM code. The function was allegedly suppressed to protect it from competitors. Some have speculated that John Titor is simply an IBM programmer with inside knowledge.
In 2001 Titor forecast that China was “pretty close to putting a man in orbit; it shouldn’t surprise you if they do that soon.” In October 2003 China became the third nation to put an astronaut into Earth orbit.
Titor implied that weapons of mass destruction would not be found in Iraq. “Are you really surprised that Iraq has nukes now, or is that just BS to whip everyone up into accepting the next war?” he wrote in early 2001. Of course, he’s not the only one who thought it was BS from the beginning, but this Titor posting preceded both 9/11 and any public discussion of an invasion of Iraq.
Titor predicted “a series of Waco-like incidents,” but didn’t say anything about 9/11. Some speculate that this omission was because the coming civil war and subsequent nuclear world war dwarfed an event like 9/11. “Does anyone today talk about the sinking of the Reuben James?” asked one post. Titor did say that there were occurrences he refused to warn about. Plus, divergence between worldlines could mean that he didn’t know about 9/11, since it never happened on his worldline. Some have also pointed out that John Titor was simply using a reference point that people were already familiar with-in this case the Branch Davidian inferno in Waco.
Titor carefully pointed out that, according to the many-worlds theory, if his predictions don’t come true, it just means that our worldline is slightly different from his and that ours can change at any time.
Some physicists have said that Titor’s time machine would not work since he did not have enough mass to create the microsingularity he claimed he had. Titor countered by saying that the theory of general relativity works for mass too and that his double-singularity only simulated the effects of a black hole. Time travel doesn’t need a total theory anyway, he wrote; it just needs to use the parts of quantum theory that work in the real world.
Some physicists maintain that John Titor’s time machine would never be able to overcome Hawking Radiation, which would fast exceed tolerable levels and cause the singularity to explode. John responded in 2001 that Hawking Radiation could be adequately controlled. In 2004 Stephen Hawking himself conceded that he was wrong about his black-hole paradox and that black holes might allow information within them to escape after all.
In 2003 Duke University physics professor Robert G. Brown posted a spirited refutation of John Titor’s physics, focusing primarily on the impossibility of Titor carting around mass-heavy black holes in an automobile and shooting them up with electrons. Brown makes a strong case that Titor’s physics and engineering claims are preposterous.
The picture of the bent laser that Titor posted online is a fake, some experts insist. If the gravity outside the car were bending it, as Titor claimed, then all the light would be bent, not just the laser. Titor never addressed this issue, apparently since the paradox was pointed out after his supposed return to the future.
Representing John Titor’s supposed family is Larry Haber, a pricey entertainment lawyer based in Celebration, Florida. Also the location of the headquarters of the John Titor Foundation, Celebration is a master-planned community on Disney-owned real estate outside Orlando. Haber, one of Celebration’s first residents, has been a Disney attorney. Some suspect that Haber or his teenage son may have originally propagated the hoax as a merchandising scheme or as a way to bring traffic to TimeTravelInstitute.com, where Titor’s first postings appeared. Interestingly, the Web site originally had the same bulletin board administrator as the town of Celebration. Oliver Williams (the current editor of JohnTitor.com and compiler of our accompanying interview) is also suspected of being the supposed time traveler, using the John Titor Foundation as a cover.