Time Travel: Science Fiction or Reality?
The Mystery Man
Just before noon on a balmy June day in 1950, a man stepped into traffic on a bustling New York City street and was struck and killed by a passing car. This was by no means an unprecedented occurrence and wouldn't have raised an eyebrow had it not been for the man's appearance and demeanor prior to the accident.
Witnesses later recounted that the victim's attire looked as if it had been borrowed from the Victorian era. He had also sported mutton chop sideburns not commonly seen in 1950s New York. Whoever the unfortunate man had been, he had certainly stood out from the crowd.
Those present claimed that he seemed to have materialized out of thin air only moments before being hit. They reported that he had seemed lost and disoriented as he stood taking in the sights and sounds that defined the city.
It was as the man was gazing around in awe that he absentmindedly stepped in front of a moving car. The accident had been unavoidable. His actions were so careless that it was assumed that he either had a death wish or was too intoxicated to realize what he was doing.
Law enforcement officers who were called to the scene determined that the victim was a man named Rudolph Fentz. In his pocket, they had retrieved business cards bearing both his name and place of employment. Even though they appeared to have been freshly printed, the paper quality and style were indicative of a bygone era. Rather than putting the case to rest, the information gleaned by investigators in the hours following the incident only added to the mystery.
Fentz's body was taken to the morgue where more evidence was soon discovered. A letter was found on his person that was addressed to the same 5th Avenue business displayed on the cards. The correspondence was dated 1876. They also found a copper beer token, a receipt from a livery stable and $70 in antiquated bank notes.
As baffling as these items were, they would prove to be only the first pieces of a much larger puzzle. Clues in hand, investigators set out to learn more about the enigmatic Mr. Fentz.
After some digging, they determined that the livery stable from which Fentz had saved a receipt had long since closed down. When they visited the address identified on the business cards, no one there had ever heard of Fentz or the company for which he supposedly worked.
The copper beer token was of no use to anyone. When queried, local tavern owners affirmed what police already knew, namely, that the practice of trading in tokens had died out long ago.
None of the dead man's belongings connected him to anyone in the city. Having taken the case as far as they could, the investigating officers turned it over to the Bureau of Missing Persons.
After some extensive legwork, the agency finally managed to track down an address for a Rudolph Fentz Jr. whose name they found in, of all places, a 1939 telephone directory. It seemed that, at last, they were onto something.
When they paid a visit to the residence, agents were greeted by a woman who was a bit taken aback when they broke the news to her that her husband had been killed in a traffic mishap. She informed them that they had the wrong man. Her husband was already in the grave and had been for several years.
Still convinced that they were onto something, investigators forged ahead. They asked the woman if it was possible that their victim had been her husband's father.
This is where the story gets interesting. It turned out, according to the widow Fentz that her father-in-law had disappeared when her future husband was still a child. She had been told that the elder Fentz had gone out for a walk one day and was never seen or heard from again. When asked if she knew when this had occurred, she replied that she did. He had vanished in the summer of 1876.
Authorities were as flummoxed by the case of Rudolph Fentz as any they had ever encountered. Everything they knew about him pointed to an implausible scenario in which he had somehow walked out of 1876 and into 1950, only to be killed within seconds of accomplishing a feat that some of the greatest minds in history had been unable to achieve.
Although many of those familiar with the evidence in the case believed that Fentz was deposited on the street after breaking through a wall that was never meant to be breached, they knew that it was a theory that could not be made public. In an effort to avoid a media circus, details of the events surrounding Rudolph Fentz were filed away in the hopes that they would be forgotten, much like the subject himself. That would not be, however, how the saga played out.
The world would learn of the bizarre happenings several months after the fact when, in 1951, a newspaper published the incredible story of the man thought by many to have been the first documented case of time travel.
Naysayers and believers alike debated the validity of the claim until it eventually faded into the annals of history. Even today, there are arguments on both sides as to whether or not the tale of Rudolph Fentz is a science fiction lover's dream come true or the result of a rumor that took on a life of its own.
There are points to be made on both sides. Those who don't buy the story claim that Fentz's alleged exploits were lifted from the pages of Jack Finney's classic work of fiction, "The Body Snatchers."
In Finney's piece, published in 1951, a man is transported from the 1800s into modern day New York City. The doomed traveler is just beginning to explore his new world when he is hit by a car and killed.
After learning of the striking similarities, it was assumed that someone who had read the book had told anyone who would listen that it was a true account. Somehow, word had spread to investigators who concluded that their victim and the subject of the book were one and the same. With that, the case was closed.
That would make perfect sense except for one glaring problem that skeptics tend to overlook; the newspaper article that raised the possibility that Fentz was a time traveler had appeared six months before the publication of Finney's book. If anything, it is more likely that the writer borrowed from the actual event and not the other way around.
Whether time travel is a fantasy that dwells only in our imaginations or something that is not only possible, but has already been successfully tested is one of life's greatest mysteries. If those who have conquered the confines of time really do exist, for reasons only they would know, they have chosen to live in anonymity. Perhaps, much like Rudolph Fentz, they simply don't live to tell the tale.
·Berlin News Archive
Through the Wormhole
In 2004, a silent movie entitled "The Circus" was released on DVD. The film was written and directed by the late Charlie Chaplin. It wasn't until 2010 that a man named George Clarke, a filmmaker himself, would notice something that would leave many wondering if a traveler, lost in time, had unknowingly been immortalized on celluloid.
During one scene of the movie, a woman dressed in a black coat and matching oversized hat can be seen strolling on the sidewalk. She is merely an extra and not an essential character in any way. The woman is a pedestrian like all of the others except for one stunning detail: she appears to be talking on a mobile phone.
It is clear when watching the footage that the woman is holding an object close to her left ear. She seems to be chatting away, totally unbothered by the activity taking place around her. At one point, she turns briefly to face the camera. It is in that moment that it becomes obvious that she is in the middle of a conversation. The only trouble is, of course, that she is alone at the time.
It is worth noting that the film was made in 1928, over fifty years before the first cellular phone was invented. After Mr. Clarke brought her actions to the attention of the online community, speculation abounded as to what exactly the woman was holding to her ear.
The most readily accepted explanation was that she was simply wearing a hearing aid. At the time, such a device did bear a resemblance to a cell phone. Black in color and rectangular in shape, one could easily be mistaken for another. That does not, however, mean that the mystery has been solved.
The reasoning behind the hearing aid theory is sound, but it is not without its flaws. For one thing, why was she holding her hand to the device throughout the entire scene? She was unaccompanied as she walked along the street. What was it that she needed to hear? Besides which, she was speaking to someone in the footage, not listening.
Some netizens have theorized that she was actually talking to herself. I don't know about others, but on the occasions when I carry on a conversation with myself, I don't generally feel the need to hold something to my ear in order to hear what I'm saying.
The idea that she may have been a time traveler has been posed by some who prefer to think outside the box. They believe that perhaps she found her way back in time by means of what is known as a 'wormhole.'
Wormholes occur when negative and positive energies meet and form an archway. The resulting tunnel can, in theory, create a portal by which one could potentially access another period in time. Although there is no solid proof that these exist, physicists agree that, given the right circumstances, wormholes could conceivably become a reality.
If a wormhole should happen to form, theoretically, someone could enter the temporary gateway and find themselves propelled backwards in time. As they progressed deeper into the tunnel, they would age rapidly, perhaps losing decades of life. It is also believed that if one were to pass through a wormhole, there would be no coming back.
Albert Einstein was one of the first proponents of the possibility of wormholes. He, along with physicist Nathan Rosen, acknowledged the potential of these connectors between time and space. In the scientific community, these portals are also known as Einstein/Rosen Bridges.
Today, scientists maintain that if wormholes do exist, it is on a microscopic level. They argue that no human would be able to pass through such a miniscule opening. It is also thought that, even if the gateway was large enough for anything of size to squeeze through, the walls would be unstable and prone to collapse. If that is truly the case, then one could enter the opening, but would probably not make it through to the end.
Time travel has not been completely dismissed by experts in the field of physics. They agree that current technology has not yet advanced to the point of allowing time leaps. Still, they don't rule out that such a thing is possible.
Could the mysterious woman who appeared in The Circus have somehow entered a wormhole that has yet to be discovered, only to find herself sent back in time? If such an event did occur, it is always possible that she attempted to make her dilemma known by displaying an object that she knew would only be recognized by those living in the future. It is a given that, had she attempted to explain her situation to the people of the 1920s, they would have surely thought her mad, despite the evidence she held.
Lacking a means of service, her actions would have been merely for show. Even so, perhaps she reasoned that the gestures alone would be enough to send a message to generations yet to come that she had broken through the time barrier only to be stranded in a world in which she didn't belong and could never escape.