Is This a Time Traveller?

The above photograph has been seen circulating through internet forums, and even enjoyed some limited news coverage.  But who is this mysterious figure wearing modern clothes and paying close attention to an event taking place somewhere off camera?  The photograph has caused several to speculate that the man depicted may be a time traveler caught unaware at an event that bears no historical significance.

The story idea is certainly an intriguing one.  A time traveler is depicted in a photograph performing a task that turns out in our world to be completely mundane, but in the world he came from that event may have been significant in some way until he made some simple change.  How many photographs are there of the night Hitler was born?  And had he not gone on to cause the worst war in the history of the world, would this event have even been remembered?  In other words, if a time traveler had stopped Hitler at a young age, history would have never remembered the event as anything more than an untimely death among millions of others.  So where is the photograph from?  And is it digitally altered?

In November of 1940 in the town of South Fork, there was a flood that closed the South Fork Bridge cutting off traffic from the town for a number of days and isolating the community.  When the dedication ceremony allowed the residents of South Fork to use the bridge once again a crowd formed to celebrate the event.  And among them was a tall unshaven mysterious man, walking unnoticed through the crowd.  He carried in his hands an unusually small camera and beneath a wool lined coat he wore a T-shirt with a simple letter M on it.  The only known record of his presence in the town of South Fork is a single photograph of the crowd as they watched the ribbon cutting of the bridge in anticipation.

Experts looking over the photograph have determined that the subject is not digitally inserted.  And the photo has been under the ownership of one of the members of the virtual museum of Canada since 2002, and has been in the public eye since 2004 when it first started making the paranormal circuit.  The man is the very picture of stereotypical “incognito while time traveling.”  Many observers have noted the size and shape of the man’s camera declaring it to be more akin to a modern SLR camera, rather than the billows cameras of the 1940’s.  Looking over camera models of the 1940’s however, I found a close resemblance between the camera the time man is holding and the Ansco Pioneer which was available in 1947.  Of course the photograph was taken in 1941, making this exact model unlikely.

And of course there are the myriad problems with conventional time travel as it has been understood by the general public.  If the time traveler were to go back in time, would he create a paradox by inadvertently preventing his own birth?  Conventional wisdom says yes, but quantum theory suggests it may not be that simple.  A time traveler in a multi-verse scenario would create a new universe just by integrating his own form into his own past.  And of course it would be impossible to return to his point of origin, as an infinite number of universes are created each millisecond.  So there is never paradox, because any one universe exists only for the blink of an eye before diverging and branching off in every imaginable direction.

But what happened to the man in dark sunglasses?  And who was he?