Friday, November 19, 2010

the Time-Traveler's Grandma

Yet another myth has been busted by Discovery. It turns out that the old lady talking on the cell phone in the Charlie Chaplin movie from the '20s was actually deaf..

time-travel[6]Though I would agree with George Clarke, CEO of Yellow Fever Productions (in the original video clip) who claims that a woman shown going to the 1928 premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s “Circus” is using a large mobile phone covering half her face. He even states that she looks more like a man in drag.

Then James Williams from Discovery decides to “investigate”, claiming that “the first commercial mobile phone wasn’t even approved by the FCC until 1983”. This is a rather silly argument or at best redundant information. What we needed to know is whether the phone had been invented by that time – after all, she could’ve had an early prototype.

James hasn’t even bothered to investigate if she had perhaps a walkie-talkie. We did – that was not invented until WW2, so that possibility flies out the window. The first portable (pocket) transistor radio, Regency TR-1, was only introduced in 1954. Suzanne Moon, Associate Professor in History of Science at U of Oklahoma believes that the device is a hearing aid. That seems to make sense as that old woman maybe had just purchased the device and was testing it by talking into it to see if it works.

Ian O’Neill, the producer, thinks that time travel was actually possible if you connect to a wormhole. He imagines a Matrix scenario. The trivia for Chaplin’s movie yields even more starting points:

  1. Final Charles Chaplin film of the silent era. He would make two more "silent" films, bucking the trend towards sound, however both City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936) would nonetheless include significant compromises to incorporate sound.
  2. Chaplin's studio burnt down during production. This, combined with a number of major personal issues that arose during production, led to Chaplin's nervous breakdown (he spent time recovering in New York after about two-thirds of the film had been shot).

The first clue may suggest that the old lady may have been purposely introduced, as a metaphor for the bygone era of silent films. Then again, his nervous breakdown may be related to having seen the futureIdeaAlienFeeling beat upOh go on. Here are some choice quotes from wikipedia:

Although time travel has been a common plot device in fiction since the 19th century, and one-way travel into the future is arguably possible given the phenomenon of time dilation based on velocity in the theory of special relativity (exemplified by the twin paradox), as well as gravitational time dilation in the theory of general relativity, it is currently unknown whether the laws of physics would allow backwards time travel.

wormholeA proposed time-travel machine using a traversable wormhole would (hypothetically) work in the following way: One end of the wormhole is accelerated to some significant fraction of the speed of light, perhaps with some advanced propulsion system, and then brought back to the point of origin. Alternatively, another way is to take one entrance of the wormhole and move it to within the gravitational field of an object that has higher gravity than the other entrance, and then return it to a position near the other entrance.

Time travel is an unsolved problem in physics, but old movies can easily be interpreted..

Sources / More info: wiki-tt, imdb-circus(1928), wiki-wt, wiki-radio, wiki-tr-1, smoon

[Chaplin's Time Traveler Explained by DiscoveryNetworks] [Chaplins (ORIGINAL) Time Traveler]

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