In 1927, swimmers enjoyed a day in the water at the CGIT and CSET Camp in Summerland. While none of the people in this photograph have smart phones, there is some debate about whether a beach image from the United Kingdom in 1943 shows a man using a smart phone. (Photograph courtesy of the Summerland Museum)

In 1927, swimmers enjoyed a day in the water at the CGIT and CSET Camp in Summerland. While none of the people in this photograph have smart phones, there is some debate about whether a beach image from the United Kingdom in 1943 shows a man using a smart phone. (Photograph courtesy of the Summerland Museum)

COLUMN: The mystery of the time-travelling tourist

Was the man in a 1943 photograph checking his smart phone?

An old photograph from a British beach shows an idyllic, happy scene of people enjoying the sun during the summer of 1943.

Everything looks perfect, until one looks a little more closely. There’s a man in the picture, wearing a suit and standing alone. He appears to be sending a text message from his smart phone.

It’s an incongruous part of the photograph. Smart phone technology was still decades away in the early 1940s with the earliest small handheld units appearing in the first decade of the 2000s. How did this man acquire such a device in 1943?

One suggestion is that the man in the photograph is a time traveller, a visitor from the future.

If this sounds like a science fiction story, it’s because time travel is a recurring theme in science fiction.

READ ALSO: COLUMN: The future isn’t what we thought it would be

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Looking back to a time of optimism

Ray Bradbury’s 1952 short story, A Sound Of Thunder, features time travel to allow hunters to go back in time to shoot dinosaurs. His 1950 short story, The Fox and the Forest, has people going back from the future to Mexico in 1938, to escape a totalitarian society.

More recently, the 1985 movie, Back To The Future, along with two sequels in 1989 and 1990, also deals with time travel.

The six Terminator films, from 1984 to 2019, also explore the concept of time travel.

Michael Crichton’s 1999 novel, Timeline, has present-day characters visiting medieval France. The novel was made into a movie in 2003.

It has been said that today’s science fiction can become tomorrow’s science fact. However, I’m not convinced the ability to travel back in time would be a good thing.

There are some potential benefits. It could help historians as they are able to examine details of past events. And it could be a refreshing reprieve to spend some time in a nostalgic world of yesterday.

But some might use this technology to go back in time to change aspects of the present.

Theoretically, one could return to the 1980s and purchase stock of Apple and Microsoft. The stock values have increased significantly over the years, which means a small investment in 1987 could be worth a small fortune today. Or one could find the winning lottery numbers from a past draw, buy the ticket and enjoy sudden wealth.

It is also possible that a time traveller could have the goal of killing a tyrannical ruler before the ruler could assume power. Whether this would be a good use of time travel technology cannot be known. If one despot is eliminated, would someone even worse rise to power instead? If one war could be prevented, would something more destructive occur later?

I don’t know what the time traveller was doing in the world of 1943. He may have been on a field trip from a future history class. He might have been relaxing after spending the previous days investing in stocks he knew would skyrocket in value. Or he may have done something to alter the course of the future.

If he prevented something from happening, we today would have no way of knowing. The future we know would have happened without any traces of the future that might have been.

Talk of time travel is a nice diversion, but at present, it doesn’t exist – at least not to my knowledge. The more likely explanation for the man in the picture is that he is rolling a cigarette, looking at a pocket watch or jotting down the telephone number of someone he has just met.

On the other hand, if time travel works, it’s possible a future version of myself has gone back in time to write this column, after first stopping in the 1980s to buy Apple and Microsoft stock.

This future me, now extremely wealthy, has returned to his own original time and is enjoying a nice cup of tea.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Columnist

Just Posted

Brodie Stuart and her mom, Mikel Stuart, gather for the celebration at Parkview Elementary on June 18, 2021. (Zachary Roman - Eagle Valley News)
Three Shuswap parents honoured for combined 34 years of volunteering

Parkview Elementary parent advisory council members surprised by appreciative flash mob

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Centennial Field in Blind Bay will be the site of Market by the Bay on Thursday nights starting June 24, 2021. (Columbia Shuswap Regional District photo)
Forty vendors expected for new Market by the Bay in the South Shuswap

Market starting June 24 to be situated at Centennial Field in Blind Bay

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to collect donations ahead of Kristy Handel’s 33-kilometre run for Chelaine McInroy (pictured) to cover costs for a new prosthetic leg after her June 12, 2021, surgery. (GoFundMe)
Salmon Arm woman runs to raise funds for friend’s new prosthetic leg

33-kilometre Run for Chelaine to help athlete cover medical costs from latest surgery

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read