NFL Trash Talk, Online Female Discrimination, Time Travelling On Social Media

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Veronica Rueckert and Rob Ferrett discuss what football trash talk means for America, find out why discrimination is driving women away from the Internet, and learn about a project that’s seeking time travelers on social media.

Featured in this Show

  • Hunting For Time Travelers — On Social Media

    As an astrophysicist, Robert Nemiroff deals with the fundamental laws of the universe. In a recent project, he looked for evidence of violations of a widely-held rule of physics: no traveling backwards in time.

    But, instead of turning toward the stars, he explored the world of social media for that evidence.

    Nemiroff, a Michigan Tech physics professor, said the idea came from a conversation with his student research group over a poker game.

    “Time travel is a really big thing with Doctor Who and stuff,” he said, and it became a hot topic for conversation among the physics students. “So, I posed them a challenge: Let’s say time travelers were among us. How would you find them?”

    He said the whimsical challenge turned into an impromptu research group. Nemiroff and his students decided to turn to social media with the notion that if people came from the future, they might leave clues on social media, or give information to other people who would then share it online.

    The group scanned social media sites like Facebook for mentions of topics like Pope Francis and the comet ISON. The hitch? They looked for mentions of those topics before anyone knew about them.

    “People shouldn’t be talking about Pope Francis in 2011,” he said. “And if they are, that might be an indication that something is off, that maybe somebody knew something that shouldn’t be known for a couple of years.”

    They did similar projects on Twitter and on the NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day website. In all three cases, Nemiroff said there were no hits — no proof of anyone with knowledge that could only come from the future.

    “We can’t prove anything, but we have an indication that you can’t time travel to the past, unlike what happens in science fiction all the time,” he siad.

    When it comes to the physics of time travel, he said time travel to the future is possible under Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity, but going back in time is more complicated. While time travel to the past is mathematically feasible under Einstein’s general relativity, Nemiroff and other physicists don’t think it’s really possible.

    “We think there’s some unknown law of physics that says that can’t happen,” he said.

  • What NFL Trash Talk Means For America

    After the Seahawks beat the 49ers on Sunday, cornerback Richard Sherman gave an emotional 20-second post-game interview that people are still talking about. A sports writer explains why we’re so fascinated with football trash talk.

  • Anti-Woman Hate On The Internet

    Women face harassment and threats on the internet, often with nowhere to turn in the legal system or the world of technology. That’s according to a guest law professor who tracks online hate speech.

  • Detecting Time Travellers On Social Media

    If time travellers walk among us–do they leave clues on Facebook? An astrophycist explains his hunt for time travellers on social media.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Robert Nemiroff Guest
  • Gregg Easterbrook Guest
  • Danielle Citron Guest
  • Amanda Magnus Producer