How to find a time-traveller

Everyone and their dog tends to look for aliens from outer space but the number of people looking for time travellers is very much smaller. There isn’t really a good reason for that on the whole. After all, absolute proof that time travel was possible would cause just as great a stir on earth as would absolute proof that aliens were out there.

It would be impossible to find a time traveller though, wouldn’t it?

It certainly would if they were really careful or even if they were careless but took the trouble to remove traces of their visits after the event. Would either situation apply though? Somehow I just can’t see it applying on all of their trips nor for that matter on any of them so long as their target time period was well before the invention of the time machine itself. After all, why bother trying to cover your tracks when anyone who knew about you would be classed as a nutcase?

If we take it as read that they wouldn’t bother to cover their tracks to any great extent then how about trying to find them? Where, or rather when, would you look?

I suspect that we can also take it for granted that they’d be visiting ever famous event over the range of their time machine but realistically we’d never know for sure that they’d been to any time much before the 1900s because the documentary evidence that we would need to detect them simply isn’t around. They might well need to be more careful any time from about 10 years ago when CCTV became commonplace too and, of course, the requirements for providing ID might make extended stays in the past more difficult too.

However, there is one event that would fit our requirements ideally and probably fit theirs too.

That’s the Titanic disaster.

Why? Well, it’s very well documented so we have the potential of discovering them and they would like well documented events too so that they’d know where they could go and, in this case, who they needed to be. The plus point for us is that if we assume that their time machine goes back with them and they need it to return home, then they have to be one of the survivors (on the assumption that at least the mark #1 time machine would be a fairly sizeable piece of equipment).

So, in principle, all we need to do is to check through the records of those survivors to find someone who a) doesn’t have a past more than a few days prior to them getting on the ship and b) disappeared after they returned to England (or Ireland). That task is easier than you might think as the Encyclopedia Titanicia has biographies of all of the survivors and, of course, you can ignore the first class passengers (too famous) and those who were part of families which narrows down the field somewhat.

So what’s stopping you?

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