If you travelled back in time and arrived in 2014, would you use Twitter? If new research is to be believed, time travellers, if they exist, are doing a spectacularly good job keeping a low profile on social networking websites. Or – dare we say – do not exist at all.

Astrophysicist Robert Nemiroff and a physics student Teresa Wilson from Michigan Technological University have released a paper, called “Searching the Internet for evidence of Time Travelers” with their findings. “Time travel has captured the public imagination for much of the past century, but little has been done to actually search for time travelers,” reads the summary of the report on Cornell University Library’s website.

Where are all the time travelers? (Image credit: Dreamstime.com)

Where are all the time travelers? (Image credit: Dreamstime.com)

The duo describes three implementations of Internet searches for time travellers. First up, the team covered content placed on the Internet using specific search terms. They then examined queries sent to a search engine of a popular astronomy website. The third step took the cake, though. The team went on to request direct contact from time travellers, pre-dating the time of the inquiry.

Essentially, it required time travelers to show up before the query was even posted and many rationalists would be delighted to read that not one response was received by the team. Fun fact: Stephen Hawking held a party in June 2009 for time travellers. He, too, sent out invitations after the party itself was over. Hawking was as disappointed to see that no one turned up.

The researchers, however, disclaimed that their inability to contact a time traveller or to pinpoint to posts regarding accidental revelations of the future did not prove the existence or otherwise of time travel. It may not disprove time travel but “given the great reach of the Internet, this search is perhaps the most comprehensive to date,” the researchers claim.

It could be possible that time travellers are just laying low so as to not disturb events in the present and thereby jeopardising the future and their own existence. That may be good enough to convince Dr Who and Back to the Future fans, but science unfortunately has a higher burden of proof. And for the time being at least, we can safely say that if people have indeed travelled from the future, they are not fans of Twitter.

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