Was This Man A Time Traveler?

In March 2003, the FBI arrested a 44-year-old man called Andrew Carlssin Carlssin had just enjoyed the luckiest run on the stock market in history

In the space of two weeks, he turned an $800 investment into $350 million Naturally, this caught the eye of the authorities Yet, instead of the usual denial, Carlssin shocked the FBI with a full, four-hour confession He was no ordinary insider trader His 126 high-risk trades had paid off because he always knew they would – because Andrew Carlssin was a time traveller from 250 years in the future

At first, Andrew Carlssin’s confession was not believed A spokesman for the Securities and Exchange Commision said, “He’s either a lunatic or a pathological liar Every trade he made capitalized on unexpected business developments, which simply can’t be pure luck The only way he could pull it off is with illegal inside information He’s going to sit in a jail cell on Rikers Island until he agrees to give up his sources

” But Carlssin never gave up his sources He maintained that he had travelled from the year 2256 and profited from his knowledge of the past However, he admitted that he made a tactical error “I had planned to make it look natural – you know, lose a little here and there so it didn’t look too perfect But I just got caught in the moment

” As part of his plea bargain, he offered to tell authorities the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and a cure for AIDS It is not known whether he did reveal these secrets It is known that he refused to reveal the location of his time craft, in case it fell into the wrong hands Though determined to prove him a liar, the FBI could find no records of Carlssin’s existence before December 2002 – merely three months before they picked him up More puzzlingly, an unidentified benefactor posted his $1 million bail

On the 3rd April 2003, Carlssin was due in court for a bail hearing He disappeared on the way to the hearing, and has never been seen again Andrew Carlssin’s story may sound fantastical, but is it possible to travel through time? Surprisingly, science says yes We travel through time already, at a rate of 1 hour per hour That is how we perceive time, measuring our progress in annual birthdays

But Albert Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity says we each perceive time differently The closer you travel to the speed of light, relative to other objects nearby, the slower time passes for you Furthermore, Einstein’s theory of General Relativity says that time passes more slowly for objects held in gravitational fields, like us on Earth, than for objects further away, like satellites in orbit That’s why clocks on GPS satellites have to be regularly corrected, to keep them synchronised with clocks on the planet All this means that, if you were to get into a craft to travel away from Earth at close to the speed of light for 5 years, then turn around and come back at the same speed, you would have aged by 10 years, as you’d expect

But on Earth, everyone would have aged by 29 years With this in mind, scientists agree it is possible to hop into the future by taking advantage of how time is distorted by extreme gravitational fields and lightspeed travel By orbiting a black hole for some years, or by going through a wormhole – a bridge through spacetime predicted by Einstein – we could go forwards in time Einstein concluded it is impossible to travel backwards in time On the other hand, his friend and logician Kurt Gödel argued that the theory of Relativity does allow us to travel into the past

Gödel postulated that if the Universe is rotating, and you travelled around it fast enough, you would arrive before you left You could travel back to any point in your own history Unfortunately this method of time travel depends on the Universe rotating in a steady state, whereas most scientists think it is expanding Another way it may be possible to travel back in time was put forward by Dr Frank Tipler

He hypothesised that if a spacecraft accelerated along a massive, infinitely long cylinder which was spinning on its longitudinal axis, spacetime would be warped in such a way that the craft would travel into the past Unfortunately, all these methods of time travel are well beyond the feasible capabilities of mankind Lightspeed requires far too much energy to attain, wormholes have yet to be observed, and building an infinitely long cylinder is literally impossible Sadly, all this scientific theory is moot in light of the truth behind Andrew Carlssin Though his story was reported all around the world by legitimate news outlets, neither the FBI nor the SEC ever heard of him

The SEC spokesman said, “This story is pure fantasy There is no truth in it at all We have had an enormous number of calls from the media on this one […] but as far as we know, it’s just not true” FBI spokesman Bill Carter said, “I am not aware of any individual who has made $350 million on the stock market with an $800 stake… The notion that there may be a time traveller out there has not reached the attention of FBI headquarters” In reality, the tale of Andrew Carlssin first appeared on the Weekly World News, a satirical website that specialises in creating fictional stories His claims and the statements of officials were all invented The article was shared by Yahoo! News’ gossip section, and from there spread to more and more news outlets

It was an early expression of the Internet’s power to share information rapidly and without thorough fact-checking This is why Andrew Carlssin disappeared without a trace He never existed in the first place Yet the FBI’s Bill Carter still pondered, “There might well have been an individual by that name arrested for fraud in any one of our field offices out there – we arrest hundreds of individuals each week” This does not mean that Andrew Carlssin the time traveller ever existed

But if the fictional Andrew Carlssin exposed his secret by being careless, how do we know a real time traveller is not among us right now, carefully observing the world as it was – at least, from their point of view

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