A (New) Look At John Titor’s Predictions

As I wrote nearly eight years ago, “John Titor’s story was painted in the dulcet, midnight colors of Coast to Coast AM, driven by a community’s desire to believe, if just for a moment, that time travel was possible.”

A lot has changed since John Titor first posted at the Time Travel Institute in 2000-2001, and even more has changed since I first wrote my ‘John Titor Predictions’ post back in 2012.

This is an updated version, with a new look at some of Titor’s more intriguing predictions and quotes, involving our potential future and the alleged time traveler’s own worldline.

But again, we must remember that these aren’t necessarily “predictions.” They’re statements made from the point of view of an alleged time traveler, one who often spoke of worldline divergence, and never seemed to tell the full story. These are, then, alleged reflections of an individual’s past that were never guaranteed to become our future.

On the other hand, given the many comparisons drawn over the years between Titor’s story and novels like Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon, or even the roleplaying game GURPS Cyberworld, you may choose to view it all as compelling Internet science fiction. Either way, it’s up to you.

A Nuclear War

Image: Safwan Mahmud/Unsplash

“A World War in 2015 killed nearly 3 billion people.” – November 4, 2000

According to his story, Titor began his journey in 2036. He’d grown up in Florida, and experienced both a domestic conflict in the form of civil war (“There is a Civil War in the United States that starts in 2005,” he wrote), followed by a worldwide nuclear war in 2015.

The affects of these conflicts were disastrous, and much of Titor’s story involved his contempt for the people of our time period. His dystopian future, he thought, could have been avoided.

But as for our worldline, Titor often mentioned a roughly 2.5% divergence in timelines while traveling. This meant our future wouldn’t necessarily match up with his past, especially after his appearance on our timeline. And while returning to his original worldline and family was possible, he also described it as “tricky.” The question is, then, if you choose to ask it: Did Titor change our worldline simply by being here?

In a post on February 2, 2001, in regards to Y2K, Titor wrote:

“Have you considered that I might already have accidentally screwed up your worldline?”

No Surprises

An unnamed road in Iraq
Image: dastan khdir/Unsplash

“Are you really surprised to find out that Iraq has nukes now or is that just BS to whip everyone up into accepting the next war?” – February 5, 2001, Post2Post Art Bell Forum

Here, we see a comment by Titor about an event that strangely did come to pass.

Titor arrived on our timeline (or otherwise began posting) in November 2000, and left (or stopped posting) in March 2001. Remember: This was before 9/11, and the United States did not invade Iraq until 2003. The prelude to the invasion involved many public hearings on the possible presence of “weapons of mass destruction,” with Congress passing the “Iraq Resolution” in October of 2002.

What’s curious is that Titor would make such comments well before the public eye turned again toward Iraq and the possibility of another war. The fact that he also mentioned the exact context of the war has perplexed many who have researched the John Titor story.

Titor also made statements like “As far as war goes, I have faith you are quite capable of starting one all by yourself,” and “In the grand scheme of things, the war in the Middle East is a part of what’s to come, not the cause.” Always implying that a long, drawn out battle was on the horizon.

It’s certainly possible that these statements were simply the result of foresight or good political guesses, especially since the United States had already been involved with Iraq during the Gulf War. Even so, this is perhaps one of Titor’s most compelling statements about our then-future, made before it happened.

The Future of the Olympics

The Olympic rings
Image: Bryan Turner/Unsplash

“As a result of the many conflicts, no, there were no official Olympics after 2004. However, it appears they may be revived in 2040.” – January 29, 2001

While the 2008 Olympics were held in Beijing, China, they didn’t occur without a hitch. During the lead up to the Olympics, Tibetan protests spread throughout Chinese provinces, with calls for independence and the return of the Dalai Lama, as well as a number of boycotts. Many wondered if this would interfere with the Olympics, though they did continue forward.

Of course, Titor didn’t mention the 2008 Olympics specifically – he stated in no uncertain terms that, after 2004, no Olympics took place at all, due to the civil and world wars. Here in our worldline, London hosted the Olympics in 2012 and Rio in 2016, soundly blowing a hole in this particular statement. Tokyo, Japan will host in 2020.

Update: Interestingly enough, the Olympics were postponed in 2020.

The Hidden Functions of the IBM 5100

An IBM 5100 portable computer
Image: Marcin Wichary/Flickr via CC by 2.0

“You mean…the breakthroughs in high-energy physics and the unknown functions of the 5100?” – February 15, 2001, Post2Post Art Bell Forum

This quote by Titor was loaded with allusions to our potential future, and discoveries that would soon be revealed.

I’ve covered the IBM 5100 portable computer in a separate article, but suffice it to say that Titor mentioned a “hidden functionality” within the computer that really did turn out to exist. The functionality was likely unknown to the average consumer at the time of his posting, so it’s curious that he would have known such a detail, himself.

Titor’s comments about “breakthroughs in high-energy physics” almost certainly point toward CERN, who in 2013 announced the discovery of the Higgs boson. And yet, Titor also claimed that CERN would soon discover the means of time travel. But now we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

An Overheating Space Plane

A space shuttle takes off
Image: NASA/Flickr via CC by 2.0

“Care to share with me how you solved the overheating problem on your space plane?” – February 13, 2001, Post2Post Art Bell Forum

This was such an odd thing for Titor to say. What “space plane” was he referring to, what problem to be solved?

Many believe his comment here was an allusion to the Columbia space shuttle disaster of 2003, which occurred after a piece of foam struck the shuttle’s left wing during take-off. Upon re-entry, superheated air breached the damaged wing, leading to the disintegration of the shuttle.

NASA’s space shuttle program has been shuttered for almost 10 years, now, so perhaps it’s not so unusual for Titor to refer to it as a “space plane.” From his point of view, the program would’ve perhaps been a forgotten footnote in history, something he didn’t remember much about.

Future Tech and the Internet

Image: Joshua Sortino/Unsplash

It’s easy to pick and choose the statements made by Titor that might align with things that could happen in our future, or things we may have avoided. That’s always the most interesting, anyway. However, much of what he spoke of related to his own life after the wars.

When asked what future technologies people could look forward to, Titor said:

“Hydrogen fuel cells and more efficient solar cells are big deals. Computer technology and software get MUCH better.”

It seemed that, despite the chaos and conflict, things chugged on. And the average life of those who remained returned to something more basic. This included hobbies and socializing.

“For fun, I enjoy swimming, playing cards, reading, playing games on the net and talking with people who live in other countries. As a community, we celebrate much more and have bon fires and dances. My hobby is sorting through old magazines and videos of life before the war.”

He also wrote about the future of the Internet, which remarkably survived (mostly as wireless nodes), despite the looming Year 2038 problem.

“The Internet is still alive and well in the future. People spend more time talking because life is more centered on the community. I’ve noticed the same type of effect here when the power goes off.”

Titor and the Many-Worlds Interpretation

A space shuttle traveling in stranger dimensions
Image: studebaker2008/Flickr via CC by 2.0

“The Many Worlds Theory seems to wrap up very nicely into current string theory. Unfortunately, we have not solved string theory yet either but (n-10) seems to be the best working model we have in 2036. As you are probably aware, the “big equation” does not need the final solution in order to take advantage of the smaller parts that do work in the real world.” – February 25, 2001, Post2Post Art Bell Forum

What do we make of the science behind John Titor’s alleged time machine?

That’s a hard one to unwrap (you can read more about his machine here), but it is curious that Stephen Hawking seemingly changed his mind about the nature of black holes and Hawking Radiation not long after Titor showed up.

In his original faxes (fax one and fax two) to Art Bell, Titor stated:

“Time travel was invented in 2034. Off shoots of certain successful fusion reactor research allowed scientists at CERN to produce the world’s first contained singularity engine. The basic design involves rotating singularities inside a magnetic field. By altering the speed and direction of rotation you can travel both forward and backward in time.”

The use of black holes as described by Titor clashed with our understanding of how they worked at the time, namely that microsingularities would evaporate before you’d be able to do anything with them.

However, in 2004, Hawking revised his theory, bringing it in line with Titor’s comments on the nature of Hawking radiation.

Another interesting statement of Titor’s that jumped out at me:

“It is believed that all worldlines end. It is also thought that parallel worldlines that appear to be the same end at different times.” – February 15, 2001, Post2Post Art Bell Forum

This would, strangely enough, coincide with the existence of a low-mass Higgs Boson, and recent findings at CERN seem to indicate that this may (READ: may) be the case. A low-mass Higgs Boson would indicate that, at any moment, the universe could spontaneously explode. Could this, in fact, be evidence that worldlines do end?

A fiber optic thing
Image: Joel Olives/Flickr via CC by 2.0

The vision John Titor paints of the multiverse (or, as he refers to it, the “superverse”) is, as I understand it, similar to those fiber optic light things (pictured above). Each worldline is a single point that stretches outward infinitely. But some of the lines can spontaneously come to an end, independent of the others.

“Time travel” occurs as a result of traveling between those lines. Thus, no paradoxes, as any time traveler would be entering another universe entirely.

Titor also makes several references to the Everett-Wheeler model, also known as the theory of the Universal Wavefunction. It’s an attempted explanation for the bizarre wave-like behavior of individual particles in the double-slit experiment, stating that every possible outcome of events always happens, each event splitting off into its own universe to avoid wavefunction collapse. Hence, multiple worldlines.

At the moment, none of this can be verified, but our current path of physics may surprise us, and the Many-worlds interpretation is considered a legitimate possibility.

The Discovery Of Time Travel

A pocket watch
Image: Rodion Kutsaev/Unsplash

“The general public was informed about time travel around 2034.” – March 2, 2001, Post2Post Art Bell Forum

2034. A year we haven’t been to, yet. Will time travel ever be possible? Has it already been discovered, yet to be revealed? Titor claimed that the mechanisms of time travel would be unveiled at CERN with the creation of microsingularities, or miniature black holes. This would unlock the potential of temporal travel.

Titor’s own machine, which he was trained to operate specifically for his mission in 1975, was created by General Electric, and at the time of his departure from 2036, new variations were being designed, he claimed, with more accurate clocks and far greater precision.

But here, just as I wrote in 2012, we cannot tell the future.

The (New) Lessons of John Titor

The more time that passes, the fewer people who believe Titor ever really was a time traveler. And yet, some of his statements from 2000 to 2001 were eerily prescient.

Whoever he was, he foresaw the renewed conflict in the Middle East, he saw breakthroughs in physics and knew about certain functions of old technologies. In most ways, his predictions have failed. But in others, you can almost see hints of that other worldline.

Perhaps it’s a moot point, though.

“I don’t want you to believe me,” he wrote in one of his posts so many years ago. And yet, like Doc Brown in Back to the Future Part III, he left us with a bit of hope that, despite the failings of his own time, we could still change our future for the better:

“When the day comes for my ‘prediction’ to be realized it will either happen or not. If it does happen, then your ability to judge your environment is crippled by your acceptance of me as a “knower of all things” and gifted with the ability to tell the future.

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.

Although I do have personal reasons for being here and speaking with you, the most I could hope for is that you recognize the possibility of time travel as a reality. You are able to change your worldline for better or worse just as I am.” – February 2, 2001, Post2Post Art Bell Forum

It all goes back to that 2.5% worldline divergence. Little shifts and changes in the timeline, perhaps brought on by Titor’s presence itself.

If things were just slightly different, could his future events have played out here? Could our current worldline still end up following that path, albeit with different dates and slightly altered events? Since 2012, we’ve seen such things as the Mandela Effect enter into the public conscious, possible clues that our timeline is not as rigid as we had perhaps thought.

All I have left is a simple question: Who knows what the future holds?

Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions. Might be a robot.

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