I've always wanted to time travel. There's something in Kodachrome film that assures me life was better in the past—that it was warmer, the colours brighter, and the hairstyles prouder. To me, a perfect holiday would be a weekend in the past. Any past. And all of this is why, when I saw an ad on the side of a car advertising 'Evidence of Time Travel', I was very, very interested.
The Australian Time Travel Study Group is run by a South Australian man named Robb Pengelly. According to his rather archaic website, the group is organised around evidence of humans time traveling for eons. He claims there are references to time travel in Greek myths, Christian Bible stories, and Nostradamus. But the site didn't explain any more. I'd have to attend a workshop at Robb's house.
Curious, I booked a free workshop, but Robb warned me it wouldn't be a chance to ask questions or engage in philosophical debate. Nor would he let me use my camera. Instead, he said he'd take photos and email me his favourites. And that's how I arrived at Robb's suburban home in Adelaide.
Robb was a tall and friendly bald man wearing a 90s business suit jacket. He ushered me through a side gate and past some washing drying in the carport. Latin dance music played in the back room and Robb told me Latin dancing was a hobby of his. When we got inside he switched off the music and pointed me towards a desk.
That's when I saw the oldest computer in the world. It was the very computer I used when I was a kid, the one that wouldn't play Age of Empires 1 . Was this the evidence of time travel? I looked at Robb, but he was completely serious. This was far from a joke to him, and to show me he started telling me about a Windows 95 CD-Rom disk that he can prove was taken back and somehow booted up in the middle of ancient Egypt. Yes, the Windows screensaver and everything was shown to people like Moses, and I was about to see this proof for myself.
Robb instructed me to observe certain details as they occurred, then he hit 'enter'. A pixilated intro video explained that Moses described a "void and darkness" in Genesis 1:2, and then the screen went dark for three seconds, just as predicted. And then, as I heard calming beach sounds through the computer's built-in speakers, I read that Moses also prophesied "the uproar of a surging mass of water". Robb asked if I hear the "roaring sound of breaking surf." I told him I could.
Robb ticked evidence off his list and things got weirder. Revelations 5:1, in the New Testament, told me that an "ancient book" would be "sealed with seven seals." The number of the seventh seal, it was prophesied, would be 144,000. What could this mean? Rob instructed me to check the size of the file that launched the program. It was 143,442 bytes small. Robb ticked off another item.
After a whole lot more I decided I'd seen enough, lest I got caught in this web of time-related inferences and never get out. So we stopped and Robb looked at me expectantly. He asked what time period I'd go back to, and thinking of Midnight In Paris, I said the 1920s. He looked at me surprised and told me it would be better to go back to biblical times, with technology to impress the locals and to warn of coming wars. That was about as close as we got to bonding. He told me the session was over.
I left no closer to time traveling, which at that point wasn't really what it was about. I'd just wanted to talk, and maybe bond, with someone who cared as much as I did. So I sent Robb some emails, trying to figure him out, but he just replied with links to more evidence. I asked for his phone number, but he declined to give it to me. Didn't we share something special, something super weird? Sensing my skepticism he wouldn't respond, although he did put a photo of me on his website. I wished I could go back to a time when people were more open.
Another odd thing is that Robb sometimes lists his name as Eddy Pengelly depending on what website you're looking at. And in all the Eddy websites, Robb has a giant beard.
So I did some research myself and discovered that the "evidence" isn't actually Robb's. Apparently all the stuff I saw was compiled by a Queenslander named Ronald Pegg. And according to the National Library of Australia, Ronald Pegg wrote a book called Nostradamus Unsealed: the discoveries of Ronald Pegg. But that book was published by "Study Group, S. Aust", which sounds a lot like Robb published it. And another odd thing is that Robb sometimes lists his name as Eddy Pengelly depending on what website you're looking at. And in all the Eddy websites, Robb has a giant beard. And at this point I gave up.
But the very last thing I discovered, is that the first actual written reference to time travel appeared in the Hindu story of King Raivata Kakudmi . The king briefly traveled to heaven to meet his creator, only to get home and discover millions of years had passed while he was out. And that story appeared in a Sanskrit poem known as the Mahabharata, which puts it at around 2800 years old. Not bad considering it alludes to Einstein's general theory of relativity. And so maybe Robb/Eddy/Ronald wasn't too far off.
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