UPDATE ON TIME TRAVEL: Sequel to my 2017 blog “Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield: a baffling lesson from art history”

All images in the supplement are by Ralph Losey using Midjourney

This is an update to an earlier blog that I wrote, tongue-in-cheek, in 2017 on “evidence” of time travel from a painting. I found out, just yesterday, that this past blog went viral some time ago, honestly not sure when, with over 20,000 hits.

This prompted me, and my AI friends, to look into and write about the latest science on time travel. I also add another painting to the mix, one from the 17th Century, that Tim Cook swears has an iPhone in it. Plus, I must pet Schrodinger’s Cat, face Time Paradoxes, and, as usual, add many Midjourney AI graphics that I crafted for maximum right-brain impact. So put down your prayer books, read this for a few minutes instead, and see where and when it takes you.


The past blog, Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield: a baffling lesson from art history, concerned an oddity of art history, a painting by a semi-famous, U.S. painter, Umberto Romano, which supposedly contains evidence of time travel. The painting was created in 1933 and clearly shows a Native American staring at an iPhone-like object. It is not a fake painting. You can see it for yourself in the original article that is included below. What does it look like to you? The providence proves it is not fake. It was painted as a mural on the wall of a Post Office in Springfield, Massachusetts. People have been walking past it every day since 1933. They look but do not see.

Of course, this future image transfer might not be the result of physical time travel, but instead, the young artist, Umberto, could have had a dream or vision of the future. Perhaps the vision was intentionally induced in a hypnagogic state, or by drugs of some sort? That seems much more likely to me, but still poses intellectual problems.

Whatever the cause, discounting chance or mass delusion, any accurate vision of the future is a mystery. It is evidence of the permeability of time, which should, by logic, and old Newtonian science, be a solid wall of causality. Visions of the future should be impossible, and yet? Schrodinger’s Cat? Infinite parallel universes? Everything, even iPhones, everywhere, all at once. Welcome to 21st Century spooky science.

Infinite icons, everywhere, all at once

Tim Cook and More Art Evidence of Time Travel

In my opinion, the 1933 painting with iPhone by Umberto could be admitted into evidence, that is, if there was ever an actual case or controversy where time travel was relevant. Of course, we have now seen that the centuries old case or controversy requirement may be waived by the Supreme Court. Apparently this can be done any time a majority of the Justices deem that is necessary to drag the country back in time. Time and law are so malleable these days.

Supreme Court as a time machine

For evidence of time travel, I would also call Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, as a witness to the stand. Cook has publicly stated, just after seeing an original painting by 17th-century Dutch artist Pieter de Hooch, that the man in the painting is holding an iPhone. The below photos of the art have not been altered, aside from color variation, which I did not do. Sure looks like an iPhone to me. Tim will swear to it.

LadBible reported that Cook was asked in a conference, the day after seeing the painting, “Do you happen to know Tim, where and when the iPhone was invented?” Cook replied: “You know, I thought I knew until last night…. in one of the paintings I was so shocked. There was an iPhone in one of the paintings.” Acknowledging that his claim may come off as ridiculous, he explained, “It’s tough to see, but I swear it’s there. I always thought I knew when the iPhone was invented, but now I’m not so sure anymore.” Proof of time travel? 350-year-old painting seems to feature an iPhone, Tim Cook agrees. No further questions of this witness.

Fake image of Tim Cook in the style of a painting by Pieter de Hooch

Time Paradox: a major problem of time travel theory

Traveling forward in time, in the sense of experiencing time dilation due to high velocities or strong gravitational fields, is well-established in physics, supported by both special and general relativity. It has been proven true many times with atomic clocks on planes and other methods. Time for anyone will slow down relative to a stationary observer. Their time keeps slowing down as their speed approaches the speed of light, or it slows down within a strong gravitational field, such as near a black hole. When they return to their prior time-space, they will have traveled into the future. Space and time are relative.

Time Travel Mysteries

In Einstein’s unified four-dimensional space-time framework, time and space are interconnected. But, the actions of the U.S. Supreme Court aside, there are major theoretical problems with time flowing the other way, chief among them, time paradoxes. Travel back in time would logically disrupt the conventional sequence of cause and effect.

The best known time paradox is the “grandfather paradox.” In this scenario, a time traveler goes back into the past and inadvertently or deliberately kills their grandfather before their parent (the time traveler’s mother or father) is born. Consequently, the time traveler would never be born, but if they were never born, then they couldn’t have traveled back in time to kill their grandfather in the first place. This cycle presents an intractable contradiction.

Hey Granddad, what’s up?

Such paradoxes are the result of a linear perspective of time, where causes precede effects. Most physicists and philosophers argue that time paradoxes prove that backward time travel is inherently impossible. Others suggest that they could be resolved through a “multiverse” theory, in which the time traveler’s actions create or move them into a parallel universe. There are other explanations, such as bending space, wormholes, etc., but this one is the most popular now.

Time Travel and the Multiverse Theory: ‘Everything, Everywhere, All At Once’

The multiverse theory of time travel suggests that there are potentially an infinite number of universes, or “multiverses,” each existing parallel to one another. When one travels in time, they are not actually altering their own past or future within their original universe. Instead, they’re moving into a different parallel universe. So much for Leibniz’ “best of all possible worlds.”

Multiverse and Time

One way to comprehend this concept is through the idea of “quantum superposition,” as seen in the thought experiment “Schrodinger’s Cat,” which posits that all possible states of a system exist simultaneously until observed. Similarly, for every decision or event, a universe exists for each potential outcome. Hence, when you travel back in time and change an event, you merely shift to a different parallel universe where that different event occurs.

Quit looking at me!

This theory serves as a solution to time travel paradoxes. For instance, in the case of the grandfather paradox, you could go back and kill your grandfather, but that would be in a different universe. In your original universe, your grandfather still survives to have your parent, and subsequently, you. Hence, there’s no paradox.

Several renowned theoretical physicists have lent their support to some variation of the multiverse theory, including:

  1. Hugh Everett III. Way back in 1957, Everett proposed the “Many-Worlds Interpretation” of quantum mechanics, which can be thought of as a kind of multiverse. According to this interpretation, every quantum event spawns new, parallel universes.
  2. Stephen Hawking. Although he did not like the idea, Hawking often referenced the multiverse and was proposing experiments on it at the end of his life. He would reference it in the context of the anthropic principle, which states that we observe the universe the way it is because if it were different, we wouldn’t be here to observe it.
  3. Max Tegmark. He proposed a taxonomy of multiverses, classifying them into four different levels.
    1. Level 1: The Extended Universe: This level suggests that if you go far enough in any direction, you’d start seeing duplicates of everything, including Earth and yourself. It’s because the universe is so big, and there’s only a finite way to arrange particles, so patterns must repeat eventually.
    1. Level 2: The Bubble Universes: This level suggests that our universe is just one “bubble” among many in a bigger cosmos. Each bubble universe may have different physical laws, so what’s possible in one might not be possible in another.
    2. Level 3: The Many-Worlds Universe: This level comes from a way of interpreting quantum mechanics, where every possible outcome of a quantum event happens but in a different universe. So, if you flip a coin, it lands both heads and tails, but in separate universes.
    3. Level 4: The Ultimate Multiverse: This level suggests that every mathematically possible universe exists. It’s kind of the catch-all multiverse, where anything you can describe with mathematics, no matter how strange or unlikely, has a universe where it’s real.
  4. Geraint Lewis. Lesser known than the first three, Professor Lewis suggests that the burst of inflation in the early stages of our universe might be eternal, with individual universes crystallizing out of it, each written with its own unique laws of physics.


Science says time travel is possible, albeit it is very, very unlikely that you can go backwards. So time travel to the future might be possible, but there is no going back. Thus, if you could, for instance, somehow go from 1933, where no one has ever seen or even conceived of a cell phone, to today, where they are ubiquitous, you could not return back to 1933 to include these cell phones in your paintings. That is, unless there are an infinite number of parallel Universes, in which case anything is possible. Everything may all be happening at once, and time itself is a kind of delusion to help us make sense of it all.

Time Machine somehow built in the 1930s

Did Umberto Romano somehow transcend time and see the key icon of the early 21st Century, the iPhone? Was time travel his special artistic skill? Does that explain the names of many of his other paintings? Such as:

Please take a moment now to read the blog that I wrote six years ago, below, and then, sometime in the future, let me know what you think. I will try to remember to watch the viewing stats this time. Who knows, I may even write a prequel.


Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield: a baffling lesson from art history

Umberto Romano (1905-1982)

Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield is the name of a mural painted at the Post Office in Springfield, Massachusetts. This mural was painted by Umberto Romano in 1933. Note the date. Time is important to this article. Umberto Romano was supposedly born in Bracigliano Italy in 1905 and moved to the United States at the age of 9. He was then raised in Springfield, Massachusetts. His self-portrait is shown right. The mural is supposed to depict the arrival in 1636 of William Pynchon, an English colonist, later known as the founder of Springfield, Massachusetts.

The reason I’m having a bit of fun with my blog and sharing this 1933 mural is the fact that the Native American shown in the lower right center appears to be holding an iPhone. And not just holding it, but doing so properly with the typical distracted gaze in his eyes that we all seem to adopt these days. Brian Anderson, Do We All See the Man Holding an iPhone in This 1937 Painting? (Motherboard, 8/24/17). Here let me focus in on it for you and you will see what I mean. Also click on the full image above and enlarge the image. Very freaky. That is undeniable.

Ok, so how did that happen? Coincidence? There is no indication of vandalism or fraud. The mural was not later touched up to add an iPhone. This is what this Romano character painted in 1933. Until very recently everyone just assumed the Indian with the elaborate goatee was looking at some kind of oddly shaped hand mirror. This was a popular item of trade in the time depicted, 1636. Not until very recently did it become obvious that he was handling an iPhone. Looks like a large version 6.1 to me. I can imagine the first people waiting in line at the Post Office in Springfield who noticed this oddity while looking at their own iPhone.

The folks who like to believe in time travel now offer this mural as Exhibit “A” to support their far-out theories. Also see: Green10 Most Compelling Pieces Of Evidence That May Prove Time Travel Exists (YouTube, 7-3-16). 

I do not know about that, but I do know that if time travel is possible, and some physicists seem to think it is, then this is not the kind of thing that should be allowed. Please add this to the list of things that no superintelligent being, either natural or artificial, but especially artificial, should be allowed to do. Same goes for screen writers. I for one cannot tolerate yet another naked Terminator or whatever traveling back in time.

But seriously, just because you are smart enough to know how to do something does not mean that you should. Time travel is one of those things. It should not be allowed, well, at least, not without a lot of care and attention to detail so as not to change anything. Legal regulations should address time travel. Build that into the DNA of AI before they leap into superintelligence. At least require all traces of time travel to be erased. No more painting iPhones into murals from the 1930s. Do not awaken the batteries, I mean the people, from their consensus trance with hints like that.

So that is my tie-in to AI Ethics. I am still looking for a link to e-discovery, other than to say, if you look hard enough and keep an open mind, you can find inexplicable things everyday. Kind of like many large organizations’ ESI preservation mysteries. Where did that other sock go?

Umberto Romano Self Portrait

So what is your take on Umberto Romano‘s little practical joke? Note he also put a witch flying on a broomstick in the Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield mural and many other odd and bizarre things. He was known as an abstract expressionist. Another of his self-portraits is shown above, titled “Psyche and the Sculptor.” (His shirt does look like one of those new skin tight men’s compression shirts, but perhaps I am getting carried away. Say, what is in his right hand?) Romano’s work is included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Fogg Art Museum in Boston and the Corcoran Gallery and Smithsonian Institution in Washington. In discussing Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield the Smithsonian explains that “The mural is a mosaic of images, rather than depicting one specific incident at a set point in time.” Not set in time, indeed.

One more thing – doesn’t this reclining nude by Umberto Romano look like a woman watching Netflicks on her iPad? I like the stand she has her iPad on. Almost bought one like it last week.

Some of Romano’s other works you might like are:

These are his titles, not mine. Not too subtle was he? There is still an active market for Romano’s work.

Ralph Losey Copyright 2023 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 

3 Responses to UPDATE ON TIME TRAVEL: Sequel to my 2017 blog “Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield: a baffling lesson from art history”

  1. […] Article Link: UPDATE ON TIME TRAVEL: Sequel to my 2017 blog “Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield: a baff… […]

  2. Bob Nylander says:

    It is interesting that the painting is that of Mr Pynchon. He was the ancestor of Thomas Pynchon, who neatly melded calculus with narrative in Gravity’s Rainbow.

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