A bit of a mystery has been tantalising US television viewers, you tube viewers and some of the print media in the last few days. It involves a clip of a woman walking down the street past an advertising for the last film of a prominent actor, talking into an apparent mobile phone. Nothing odd in that you may think - except that the clip is 82 years old, dating from 1928!
The image captured shows the old woman walking down the street, past some odd stuffed animals that were displayed on the sidewalk to advertise Charlie Chaplin's new film, The Circus, released in 1928.
Various theories have been trotted out - what she has in her hand is a Siemens 1924 hearing aid, an ear trumpet, an actual mobile phone, or most bizarrely of all, that the cameraman had captured a supposed 'time traveller' who had travelled back from the start of the 21st century with a mobile phone to 1928 and happened to be captured walking past ad advert for the latest Charlie Chaplin movie.
Time-travel may be theoretically possible according to people like Stephen Hawking, but the difficulties even in getting a human being to travel one second make it effectively impossible. So that can be ruled out.
But what then is she doing? What is in her hand? And why does she look like she is talking into what is in her hand?
An old style ear-trumpet can be ruled out. One slightly convincing argument is that it is a 1923 Siemens hearing aid, a big bulky thing that had to be held up to someone's ear the way people today use mobile phones.
But the hearing aid solution does have two problems with it -
- Those hearing aids were only used to listen to speech, not ordinary sounds. So why would someone be holding a hearing aid up to their ear while walking down the street?
- Even more mysteriously, why did she appear to be talking into it? The last two frames of her, when zoomed in on, show her appear to be talking into whatever is in her hand. But most bizarrely of all, the last frame shows her facial expression change as it would if you were involved in a conversation on a phone and reacting to what someone had said.
BTW, the image captured shows the old woman walking down the street, behind some odd stuffed animals that were displayed on the sidewalk - maybe an antiques shop, or shop selling stuffed animals, or a movie theatre showing a film with animals was nearby. An old man is walking along, followed by the old woman appearing to talk to something in her hand. It comes from the extras attached to a DVD release of Chaplin's 'The Circus' - showing the film being advertising on its release.
So far no-one has come up with a convincing solution that explains everything.
See what you think.
[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiIrpEMbQ2M&feature=related]YouTube - Time Traveler Caught on Film - Time Traveler Cell Phone - Charlie Chaplin Time Traveler[/ame]