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Time Travel Has Come Today 

Or maybe on August 3

Man by nature has the spirit of adventure at the core of his soul. Way back in fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Christopher Columbus felt compelled to sail the ocean blue in three little boats. In the 1960s, President Kennedy set a goal for the United States to land a man on the moon and bring him safely home before that decade was over. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton had his own adventures involving little men in boats and pocket rockets. Mankind as a whole, it seems, just gets restless without an adventure looming.So what are the great new adventures for our times? While space exploration holds a universe of potential for mankind's wanderlust, it's rather frustrating for any single individual. In days of yore a man with a strong back and a saddlebag full of courage could set off to tame whatever the "wild new territory" of the moment was. Mars and galaxies far, far away, unfortunately, are a bit tougher to take on alone.

One of mankind's oldest hankerings has been to conquer the problem of time travel. Not too long ago, I was surfing the web and I happened across a web site that posed an interesting premise: "Imagine, for just a minute, that time travel will some day be possible. . .If time travel will be possible within the next 50 or 60 or 70 years, I will force it to happen on August 3, 2002. It's as easy as this: I will get a tattoo on my arm that reads "August 3, 2002. Empire State Building. 4pm.' I will then commit myself to the following: If I ever have access to time travel in my lifetime, I will go back to the time and place that I have tattooed into my arm. At this point, all I need to do is be in front of the Empire State Building at 4pm on August 3rd. There is a very good chance that I will appear from the future in front of everyone on that street corner."

This idea caught my interest because of its simplicity. Here was a straightforward idea that would allow an average person to step up to the ranks of Christopher Columbus or Ferdinand Magellan. Or, on the other hand, Douglas Corrigan, who in 1938 filed a flight plan for California, took off from a Brooklyn airfield in a tiny single-engine plane, then arrived in Ireland 29 hours later, claiming his compasses had failed. The beauty of this new time-traveling plan is that it only requires a tattoo, airfare to New York, and a bit of Wile E. Coyote, sans the rocket-powered roller skates.

I contacted the person who came up with this ingenious plan and asked him a few questions. Here are excerpts from our interview with Bill Rigby -- Potential Time Explorer:

Creative Loafing: Who are you and how did you come upon this idea of time travel?

Bill Rigby: Unfortunately I can't get too specific as to who and where I am. I've received dozens of e-mails from individuals who think I might destroy the universe (!) by meeting my future self, and a few of them have threatened me with bodily harm if I choose to go ahead with my experiment. But I will say this: I am real and not an urban legend, as has been suggested in various corners of the Internet. I'm a 25-year-old male from the New England area. I have a respectable full-time job, and I consider myself intelligent and clear-minded. I am by no means mentally unstable, as some have suggested. Most people have seen movies such as Back To the Future and have been conditioned to think of time travel as science fiction, or fantasy. For a great while I was one of them. One day while eating lunch, I asked myself a simple question: What if? What if it were possible? What if I had access to time travel? Will technology ever evolve to the point where time travel will be possible? And then I asked myself, why not? From there, my experiment blossomed. If time travel will be possible in my lifetime, then it is possible for me to trick it into occurring right now.

Do you think your future self would be in even greater danger than your present self? After all, he'll have very valuable information in regards to future events as well as answers to pressing questions like whether the Red Sox will ever win the World Series.

If my future self appears on August 3rd, it is possible that he will face some danger as well; he will surely have information about future events that some would consider invaluable. It's possible my future self could be kidnapped and tortured for information. I do worry about this, but by worrying about this now, I can be sure that my future self takes some caution when appearing in the past. Being a time traveler is clearly a very dangerous profession, and I have a few more months to prepare for the possible consequences mentally and physically.

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