Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Is That a Time Traveler on the Charlie Chaplin DVD?

In 1923 there were no such things as time machines. Technology has advanced quite a bit since then, but there are still no time machines. There are, however, cell phones and people with vast imaginations — and clearly some dreamers with too much time on their hands. That's the most likely explanation behind Irish filmmaker George Clarke's claim that he found a woman talking on a cell phone in a Charlie Chaplin movie. Or rather not in the film itself, but in the bonus footage included on a new DVD version of The Circus. Filmed outside the movie's 1928 Hollywood premiere, a woman walks from right to left, holding what appears to be a cell phone, chatting as she strolls. When Clarke uploaded the footage in October, the Web erupted in a flurry of time-travel intrigue (the video has been watched more than 5 million times since), as viewers struggled to come up with alternatives as to what the woman was doing, and with what object. Our thoughts: she was probably carrying an early version of a hearing aid called a carbon amplifier, which Siemens Corp. patented around that time.