Screen grab of Clarke's zoom in of the Charlie Chaplin film 'The Circus.'

Time Traveler Caught on Film?

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

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There’s a video making the rounds and creating buzz on the internet and we thought we might as well join in. Filmmaker George Clarke from Ireland is a Charlie Chaplin fan, and saw something unusual in a 1928 Chaplin movie called “The Circus.” In a crowd scene at the opening of the movie there appears to be a woman (or a man in drag) talking on a cell phone as she walks in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. In the video above, Clarke goes on about it for awhile, but at about 2:40 in, you can see the footage. This person has all the mannerisms of someone walking down the street and talking on a cell phone.

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I’ve been checking around the web and no one seems to be able to come up with a good explanation, although there are lots of questions, such as, how could she be using a cell phone in 1928 since there were no cell phone towers or satellites at that time? Across the internet there are discussions of “Back to the Future”- like Walkie Talkies, alien homing devices, and pretty much everything else you can think of. My favorite discussion comes from the Washington Post, which claims this person is the worst time traveler ever, and the only reason no one has noticed this person before is “Because this may be the first time in history that someone has watched the DVD extras of “The Circus.” Forget the DVD extras! People didn’t even watch “The Circus” when it came out!”

It doesn’t appear this is a movie set, just film from taken out front of a real location. Anyway, its a weird video and there’s lots of discussion out there, but what are your thoughts?

Via SciBlogs


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XiXiDu
Member
October 28, 2010 8:05 AM

Beings capable of time travel do not use cell phones.

tacitus
Member
October 28, 2010 10:31 AM

Got to agree that it’s a little ridiculous to treat this story seriously — there could be any number of explanations without having to resort to by far the most far-fetched possibility of them all. It would seem to me that she’s hiding her face from the camera and is maybe responding to the cameraman’s admonition when she pauses and looks partly in his direction.

And why even assume that time travelers from a future where time-travel is possible (not any time soon), will still be using mobile phones that look like those we have today?

BertL
Member
BertL
October 28, 2010 7:51 AM

“I’ve been checking around the web and no one seems to be able to come up with an explanation” Really? Try harder.

There have been several explanations, all far more plausible than “time traveller”. The woman might be holding a 1921 Vactuphone hearing aid against her ear. The woman might be having an earache. She might be trying to cover up her face for the camera.

Really, all we can observe is that she is walking there with her hand against her ear, talking.

My thoughts are that this article is really below Universe Today’s standards.

bystander
Member
bystander
October 28, 2010 8:31 AM

Can’t be a cell phone, no phone towers, lousy reception. Besides, who would she be talking to.

BillSkinzFifth
Member
BillSkinzFifth
October 28, 2010 8:58 AM

I usually love this site but I am in agreement with BERTL. This story has no business being on Universe Today.

Sirius_Alpha
Member
Sirius_Alpha
October 28, 2010 9:10 AM

Going to have to agree with the above. This is below UToday’s standards.

This site seems to be sliding inexorably into another Space.com sad. Is it too much to ask to present unsensationalised science news?

firecarp
Member
firecarp
October 28, 2010 9:32 AM

This article has inspired me to register after being an avid reader for the last year and a half. Come on Universe today! This is way below the standards I have grown to expect from you.
“there’s lots of discussion out there”, by who? retarded children. No, that would be an insult to retarded children.

The point is, it does not take much searching to find all kinds of ridiculous schlock like the above video.

Oh and by the way, yesterday I saw a film of a fight between Sasquatch and a bear, true story.

Nephish777
Member
Nephish777
October 28, 2010 9:42 AM

Possible explanation is http://hearing.siemens.com/sg/10-about-us/01-our-history/milestones.jsp?year=1924, however the YouTube video does seem to show her talking as she is walking. (Just IF time travel would be possible, and IF the traveler was caught on film, then it could be a “Star Trek” type communicator to a base camp or ship.) I remember a science fiction short story with time travelers going from historic disasters and at times going to theaters to see certain actors.

hydrazine
Member
hydrazine
October 28, 2010 10:38 AM

I have to kinda agree: don’t see much space related story here and nothing really to be excited about. BTW, if you watch closely the last quarter of the second before she disappears from the screen you’ll see her move her hand in a manner not consistent with holding something. It looks more like she is fixing her hair or maybe an earring or something. But it could be really anything, c’mon get a grip on yourself.

Kind regards,
/hydrazine

gjm
Member
gjm
October 28, 2010 10:49 AM

It’s almost certainly a hearing aid. Plenty of examples available with a quick search. Good PR stunt for the guy, though.
This technique, though, is probably the way we “discover” real time travellers, should such actually exist. With omnipresent cameras, any anachronistic technology will have a hard time hiding.

Now to dress up and walk down the block to Grauman’s holding my iPhone to my left ear….

JWarren
Member
JWarren
October 28, 2010 11:16 AM

Observation: Grainy video of someone holding something to their head.

Conclusion: Time traveler using a cell phone.

Come on, this is silly.

Surak
Member
Surak
October 28, 2010 1:37 PM

Wow. Nancy, hide your credulity! It ain’t pretty!

It’s not a cell phone. It’s obviously a trans-dimensional quantum vortex frequency balancer, charging her life-force from the electric universe.. Obviously.

I think I’ll be taking a break from this website for awhile.

byebye.

microverses
Member
microverses
October 28, 2010 2:03 PM
Hmm. I figured this would be a place to really find a good discussion on this, you know – from a group of people that are into science and technology. Guess I was wrong. I think it’s very interesting, if it is a hearing aid of some sort, it is without electronics as transistors did not exist then. Why would the person be talking into it….if it’s a hearing aid? For what? To adjust the potentiometer that isn’t there? No walkie talkie, again….no transistors. Someone above mentions this is probably how we’d find a time traveler, yet discounts this. What criteria would be required….HD 1080P digital image of someone walking in a crowded subway??? Come on. I’m not… Read more »
Radical_Ed
Member
Radical_Ed
October 28, 2010 2:04 PM

It is possible that it’s a cell phone, more and less. although they don’t have satellites back in the 20’s nor cellphone towers, it is possible that the phone runs on Tachyon. after all if they can time travel, then they can probably communicate back to fucture

Plausible
Member
Plausible
October 28, 2010 2:27 PM
Ok so heres what we know. 1. Clearly talking into whatever he or she is holding to their ear. 2. More then likely not a tube hearing aid which they did have back then, however none of them worked in the manner she is using it. 3. Why would she be talking to her hearing aid? (Crazy? Possible) 4. NOT A CELL PHONE! We need to think outside the box on this one. 5. Why do we think it’s a cell phone? We of this time period think of her actions looking like talking on a cell phone because that’s what we look like when we talk on one. 6. IF she is from the future it’s a… Read more »
Plausible
Member
Plausible
October 28, 2010 2:31 PM

Its easy to poke fun at the time traveler theory and dont get me wrong that is highly unlikley. But none of the explanations so far are correct. So what the hell is she doing.
oh and one other thing i forgot to mention she is cluching something because as u can see in the vid her fingers are bent over whatever she is holding. She isnt hiding her face from the camera.

Jlazor
Member
Jlazor
October 28, 2010 2:37 PM

This post is garbage.

cipater
Member
October 28, 2010 2:50 PM
The answer to the question of “then what is she doing?” is this: She can be doing any number of things, given the lack of good data. People talking on cellphones is ubiquitous to us. We see people doing this everywhere and we automatically know what they’re doing without even looking straight at them. Someone can be walking on the other side of the street, and I’ll never even look at them, but my brain has decided on its own that the person is talking on a cellphone, just from a peripheral impression of them. It’s automatic. Therefore, we see someone doing something just like this thing we see everyday, obviously our brains are gonna go “talking on… Read more »
Plausible
Member
Plausible
October 28, 2010 2:59 PM
I wasn’t really looking for an answer when i sd what is she doing. i simply mean the explanations so far are nonsense. And i believe i touched on what u sd about we associate that behavior with a cell phone and that’s why we keep saying its a cell phone clearly it isn’t. Even if lets just play into this fantasy for a second and say its a time traveler. That most certainly would not be a cell phone. U don’t see people today with a square shaped backpack are carrying an Abacus we say its most likely a laptop because why the hell would we need an abacus with the tech that we have today? It… Read more »
Nancy Atkinson
Guest
October 28, 2010 3:09 PM
Holy cow! I posted this early this morning as a sort of “here’s what the rest of the world is buzzing about” article, then scurried off to work on articles about new findings of the Spirit rover, new exoplanet information from Keck, the Kepler astroseismology results, the new ARTEMIS mission, an update on the shuttle launch and share a podcast I did about the LCROSS results. Then I came back to this article to find that people think that we aren’t covering space news as well as we should. Well, take a look at the aforementioned articles, as well as one by Nick about an ancient impact crater and one by Jason that has exclusive interview of an… Read more »
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