Time Trap

"The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science."
Albert Einstein


Reactivating the temporisoscope as well as learning and understanding how to operate it were made possible with the help and dedication of the following individuals.

Benoît Drager restored the temporisoscope to working order, redrew the plans and built its protective case. Once again, his genius won the day. His skill and talent are things of rare beauty.

 Messrs Goossens (elder and younger) repaired the Wimshurst electrical machines and the Spamer current generator.
Patrick de Walque provided everything having to do with his illustrious ancestor.
Fernand Blaze, who runs a bookshop called 'l'Illustration', helped find original newspaper articles about the World's Fair.
Benoit Louppe shared his professional advice on electromagnetic fields and biomagnetic influences in order to help us understand how the machine works physically, as well as the origin of disruptions caused by the machine's operation.
Antoine Salembier studied and calculated the mathematics of displacement in time, allowing us to better understand why and how the machine and its time capsules work.
Mary Tomich, our correspondent at the Museum of Cursed Antiquities in Minneapolis (USA), provided us with key documents on Nikola Tesla.

Inv. SMI/tt-13940

Time Trap
Acquired in January 1995 from a descendent of Professor de Walque
Origin: USA/Belgium 1910


Scientific apparatus manufactured in 1910 and subsequently restored (first in the 1930s and again in 1995-1996).
Consists of a communication keyboard, copper/brass capsules, a case, miscellaneous generators, batteries and Wimshurst machines. Miscellaneous documents, plans and a box sealed in 1910 accompany the lot.

Report: Accounts and simultaneous experiments on 14 August 1910/1997

The symptoms appeared a few months ago.

In the beginning, it was just a passing feeling of vertigo not unlike the feeling one has when one's blood pressure drops. Then the images came, along with a feeling of déjà vu, like the impression of living in two simultaneous 'presents'. I won't even go into the premonitions...

Have you ever had the experience of knowing at any time what would happen at the very next moment, of having a continual feeling of déjà vu, of anticipating the end of a film? It would be great if the feeling allowed us to predict winning lottery numbers, but unfortunately it doesn't work like that!
The effect only covers the next few minutes. As it is not totally reliable, it will be of no use to anyone wishing to play the stock market.

Oh, of course, you could impress your friends by guessing what cards they will be dealt in a game, but soon no one would want to play with you any more. And casino managers would ask you to kindly leave the premises if you started winning too regularly. You could also put together a show consisting of nothing but corny tricks to amuse your kids.
Or open a psychic consultancy. There are plenty of gullible victims prepared to swallow any old nonsense.
"Azmael the Psychic divines your innermost thoughts. By appointment only."
A sad way for a collector of the strange to end up...

This 'donation' is actually more of a scourge leading to sleepless nights and, at times, pounding migraines and vivid nightmares. No doctor can treat or cure this affliction, because its cause is not actually a 'medical' phenomenon. It is infinitely more complex than that.

But let me start at the beginning.

It was my birthday in January 1995 and I was having a party. The revelries were still in full swing when an unexpected visitor rang my doorbell.
I opened the door to find myself looking at an affable young man, who was well dressed and sporting a bow tie and very conventional glasses. My immediate impression was that he was a bank manager.
"Are you the Curator of the Surnateum?", he asked. His name was Patrick de Walque and he had brought me a weighty, heavily damaged case along with its contents. The case, which had been in his family for years, absolutely had to be handed over to me on that very day, at my current address. Those were the strict instructions that had been left by one of his forefathers, Professor François de Walque.
He knew nothing more than that; he was simply complying with the instructions left by one of his ancestors some 85 years before.

Intrigued and thinking that it must be the mother of all practical jokes, we opened it.

The case contained a group of tubes, a bizarre typewriter, generators, cables, a collection of deteriorating scientific instruments, tattered newspaper clippings and an extremely damaged set instructions on how to assemble the contraption. All in all, the gear weighed in at just under 100 kg, including dust, and looked like no other machine known to man.

At first glance, nothing amazing - or of any value for that matter!
My initial reflex was to throw the whole mess in the bin. I collect strange objects on behalf of the Surnateum, but there is a limit to what I will keep and I had no room to store this 'thing'. What's more, it seemed to have no connection whatsoever with the antiques housed in the Museum.
Plus, I had no idea where this whole hoax had come from, but my curiosity got the better of me and Mr de Walque did seem genuinely sincere.

The 'device', which dated from the early 20th century, was in very poor condition. Some restoration work had been done on it, probably in the 1930s.
The entire unit seemed to be self-powered and, provided that major repairs were made, we could perhaps even start it up.
The plans and instructions were in the worst state of all. It took ages to decode them and learn more about the history and background of this device.
A partially worn inscription on one of the parts read: "Te… .s...e".
Benoît, our technician, dubbed it it the 'Temporisoscope' - but it could have been 'Teslascope'.

And then that curious feeling of déjà vu appeared, that disturbing feeling I mentioned earlier. I was somehow familiar with this device, but what gave me that impression?

It took us two years of work to get everything operational again, to replace the damaged parts and to find out  what had happened. Although since that time, I'm not sure about anything any more - especially when it comes to the chronology of events.

It all began during the hot summer of 1910, at the World's Fair in Brussels.

Team 1: early July 1910 - Brussels

On that day, the Duke of Ursel, General Commissioner of the Brussels World's Fair, received in his private office one of the world's most renowned scientists: Nikola Tesla.

At 54 years of age, Nikola Tesla was famous. In fact, he was one of the greatest geniuses every known. Born in 1856 to Serbian parents, he worked for Thomas Edison before emigrating to the United States. He invented alternating current, the radio, remote-controlled robots that he operated in Madison Square Garden, the transmission of energy through the air and the Tesla turbine, and he held thousands of other patents. Tesla provided the lighting for the Colombian Exposition in 1893 in Chicago. He also transformed Niagara Falls into an enormous AC generator, snatching up a fabulous contract from Edison himself. In 1889, his good friend Samuel Clemens (alias Mark Twain) published A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the first novel on the topic of time travel. (It is interesting to note that in this novel, it is lighting - i.e., electricity - that projects the traveller back to King Arthur's court.)
After attending one of his lectures in England, a young man by the name of Herbert Georges Wells rushed home to write what would become a legendary novel: The Time Machine. Nikola Tesla, the 'electricity man', had everything he needed to be happy - but there was one thing that bothered him. In 1909, the Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to Marconi (a scientist of Italian extraction) for inventing radio telegraphy.

Nikola Tesla knew full well that Marconi had stolen his invention (something which would later be acknowledged in 1943 by the American courts). That was one of the reasons why Tesla registered fewer and fewer official patents.

So, feeling resentful and keen to exact revenge, Tesla travelled to the Brussels World's Fair to present his unique invention: the time travel machine. 1910 was also the year that his friend Mark Twain died; it would be an excellent occasion to pay tribute to him.

The Duke of Ursel, who knew that Marconi had been invited to give a presentation of wireless telegraphy in September, could not decently refuse Tesla's request to present an invention of the same calibre - even if the situation might lead to conflict. (Moreover, Tesla was a friend of Belgium's King Albert I, who had just succeeded Leopold II. Back when he was still a prince, Albert had been fascinated by a demonstration that Tesla had given him in his US laboratory, and he had invited him to visit Belgium and many occasions.)

Since he immediately saw the phenomenal opportunities afforded by the machine and the fortune that its owner could make, he offered Tesla the chance to test the machine in the presence of a small number of witnesses.

He suggested the date of Sunday, 14 August 1910. They would all met at around 8 p.m. in the office of the general commissioner of the World's Fair. The office was right next to the electricity section in the Belgian part of the show.

The experiment was carried out in the presence of a noted Belgian scholar, Professor François de Walque. As a civil engineer, manufacturing engineer, professor at the University of Liège and later the University of Louvain, collaborator with the scientific society of Brussels, honorary collaborator with the Surnateum and shareholder in the World's Fair, this highly intelligent man of knowledge and integrity would be the ideal impartial judge for the experiment. And if the experiment proved a success, then Nikola Tesla would be offered a spot as lecturer at the International Congress in mid-September. As the Duke of Ursel could not attend that day, he delegated his cousin, the Count of Ursel, to serve as a witness. The group was rounded out by a journalist and a secretary.

Time Experiment 1

Office of the Duke of Ursel at the World's Fair, on or around 15 July 1910

    When Nikola Tesla presented his project to the Duke of Ursel and Professor de Walque, he expected that they might not really understand it. That is why he prepared a brief yet impressive demonstration. He borrowed a box of matches from the witnesses and removed a few. He then asked the professor to break or burn 3 or 4 of the matches. The smaller prototype of the machine, which he set on the Duke's desk, could send a small object 10 minutes into its own past, giving it the form it had at that time. Professor de Walque examined the small machine with great care, then inserted the burnt matches into a time capsule and sealed it. Tesla started the machine. Apart from a sleight prickling sensation, the witness to the experiment felt nothing at all.

But when he opened the tube, the matches were once more intact.


The temporisoscope - Office of the Duke of Ursel at the World's Fair; 14 August 1910

Tesla, who spoke several languages fluently, including French, called his device the 'temporisoscope', at least that's what we think. This was probably a nod to his French friend d'Arsonval, who must have known something about the invention.

Discoveries by Planck in 1900 and Einstein in 1905-1906 allowed Nikola Tesla to conceive the following theory. If one takes a wave that moves faster than light and makes it carry information (what we now call 'tachyon'), this information will travel through time. Provided we have the right receiver we can therefore receive a message from the future or the past. Unfortunately, no time displacement or travel is possible before the date on which the machine was first operated.

This theory was restated under the name 'tachyonic antitelephone' by Professor Benford and two colleagues at the University of Irvine. The machine combines multiple magnetic fields to open a breach in time. (Actually, a small black hole. The creation of negative energy out of nothing prevents the black hole from collapsing in on itself.) The time capsules are brass cylinders, which seems to confirm the contemporary theory of Michio Kaku (Hyperspace: Michio Kaku, Anchor Books) which states that the cylinder is the ideal shape for a time machine.

This theory unifying quantum mechanics with the theory of relativity is currently being researched by Stephen Hawking. (Nikola Tesla stated that Albert Einstein was wrong about part of his theories and that the speed of light is not an insurmountable limit.) In February 1994, two researchers at Yale University successfully created negative energy without positive compensation (positrons), by drawing it out of nothingness. This made time travel physically possible. (This energy makes it possible to prevent a black hole from collapsing and keeps the portal from one era to the next open. This is known as the Casimir principle, first expounded in 1940.) Our temporisoscope uses a similar principle, but it was designed in 1910.

In 1906, Professor Korn sent the first photograph by radio. Was the temporisoscope going to be the next stage?

The protocol established by Professor de Walque suggested sending a chosen code and two or three small items unknown in 1910 back in time five years (the starting date was 1915).

After being operated in 1910, everything saved from the machine was carefully packed away in a sealed case and handed over to Professor de Walque for safekeeping. His instructions were not to touch it until 14 August 1915. Unfortunately, he could not predict that World War I would prevent the experiment from taking place. And that part of the machine would be destroyed during the experiment, but partially reconstructed in the early 1930s.
To resolve the space-time problems, the temporisoscope communicates with itself, serving as both a transmitter and receiver.

When they turned the machine on, they were very surprised indeed to receive a message from 1997, along with my contact details. Unfortunately, as the message was garbled, they were unable to absolutely confirm that the temporisoscope actually worked. Accordingly, Professor de Walque decided to have it brought to me by his future descendant, thus provoking the condition which I currently suffer from. This is linked to a change in the past, which affects me first and foremost. (Apparently Tesla suffered from similar problems.)

Team 2:
14 August 1997. Experiment report.

We are meeting here tonight in the Surnateum laboratory to try to contact the team in 1910. We thought long and hard about carrying out this experiment, for it is not without danger. Apart from the conventional paradoxes involved in travelling through time - a theme explored at length in science fiction - we felt that there was a risk of changing the texture of our past, or of slipping into a different dimension of history. However, at the end of the day, if we can warn humanity of the dangers posed by monsters like Hitler and Stalin, then perhaps we can improve things during this past century.
We are certainly a bit naive, or maybe we are just looking for an excuse to play sorcerer's apprentice; I tend to think it's the latter.
After all, the fact that I ended up receiving the machine must mean that one way or another I managed to operate it. So, let's do it!

The centre page of this journal from the 1910 World's Fair (dated 20 August) shows a map of the Fair, allowing us to locate the place where the experiment took place. There is no mention of whether our experiment was a success or failure.
We will be required to follow the protocol established by the team in 1910.
Communicating with people who have been dead for a long time is a strange experience... but to them, we haven't been born yet. After all, they are expecting to communicate with themselves. We know they will be surprised.

The various components are correctly connected and everything is working perfectly. Only the receiving case is showing signs of hesitation. This is the case that is to receive the 'well of light', the output from the minute black hole that we are going to create.
The following are present: myself, Benoît Drager (the technician who restored the machine), Antoine Salembier (the team mathematician), my assistant Nicolas Stevens and an independent outside observer.
Also in attendance are ten guests, including a historian whose specialises in the history of World's Fairs. They are watching from a distance.
Naturally, the experiment is classified 'Top Secret'.

Time Experiment 2

Another curious experiment took place.
The temporisoscope has two time capsules. The one on the left of the machine receives dispatches from the future; the one on the right sends dispatches to the past.
Everything depends on the type of capsules used, as there are several different models.
Activating the machine at exactly 3 p.m., a slight vibration in the capsule on the left (which was empty before the machine was turned on) informed us of the arrival of an object. The object in question was a small coloured glass marble. Five minutes later, without interrupting the operation of the machine, we placed the marble back in the right-hand capsule, whereupon it disappeared.

Nothing lost, nothing created.

Experiment report (cont.): 15 August 1997

Now that it is over and we survived, I will attempt to sum up our trial.

We began by testing the various devices in the case and then connecting them.

According to the protocol, we were required to first transmit my coordinates and the means, date and place of acquisition, the date and place of the machine's operation, as well as two historic events that took place in 1912 (i.e., two years after the experiment).

We reported the sinking of the Titanic (14 April 1912) and the fact that on 14 October 1912 John Schrank attempted to assassinate President Roosevelt.
We also suggested eliminating a certain Adolf Hitler. They don't know who he is yet, but it's always worth a shot.

At the very instant we sent the document, it transformed as it passed through the device and we were able to instantaneously read the response from the team in 1910.
That was when I learned that in a past which we will call 'Time ONE', I acquired the machine when it was in very poor condition and restored it, but the first transmission trial went so badly that they decided to send me the machine via a descendent of Professor de Walque. This change in my own past forced us into a 'Time TWO', generating the impression of dividing in two and the strange visions and premonitions that appeared when I took possession of the device.
Curiously, Mr de Walque did not feel anything - probably because he has been living close to the machine his entire life.

Under the terms of the protocol, they then had to confirm that this was not a hoax.

So they sent us an object that was unique to 1910, something that it would be impossible to duplicate today.

Suddenly, there appeared in a flash (a kind of well of light) a ticket to the World's Fair from the Duke of Ursel, who witnessed the 1910 experiment. (We had it checked by an expert and it is indeed authentic.)

At the same time, we also sent ourselves two objects: the independent supervisor borrowed a new 200 franc note (we noted down its serial number) and  a plastic earring (since metal does not travel well through time).

These two items of physical evidence disintegrated and the machine suddenly exploded.

When the smoke cleared, the contents of a newspaper on the World's Fair dating from 20 August 1910 had changed. We had used it to show the map of the Fair.

It now explained that the World's Fair had been destroyed in the evening of 14 August 1910 by a mysterious fire that devastated the office of the General Commissioner, the electricity section, the Belgian section, the British section - the entire fair. All the animals in the Boskop menagerie perished, but thankfully nobody was killed. Once again, our past had changed - and so had history.

What had we done?


There was one thing left that we could only do at the end of the experiment. In the box amongst the objects received was a sealed iron box that was not to be opened under any circumstances until the end of the experiment; any earlier, and we would be running a serious risk. When the supervisor removed the seal, he saw that the box contained the borrowed banknote and the plastic pearl - both showing signs of nearly 90 years of ageing.

Then, that part of the machine undamaged by the explosion started working again, and a curious message from another place and time appeared:


I no longer suffer from bilocation disorders!

Time Experiment 3

Time Experiment 2 left us puzzled. So we reactivated the machine the next day. This time, I had two marbles in my pocket, one white and the other black.
During the activation phase, we saw a white marble appear. Five minutes later we isolated the white marble and inserted the black marble for its trip into the past.
Something happened; the disorders returned.
The black marble disappeared. When we went to remove the white marble from isolation, the black one was there in its place.

Final notes

We ran a number of checks:

The Titanic did sink; but the ship's owner, Pierpont Morgan, refused to go aboard at the last minute - unheard-of behaviour on the occasion of a ship's maiden voyage. He was Nikola Tesla's friend and employer. In the end it did not really matter, as he died the following year. The Reaper had caught his prey.

Schrank did shoot at Roosevelt, but missed. Had the president's Secret Service bodyguards been warned?

Tesla did quite a bit of business with Belgium. He was paid $10,000 for the rights to use his Tesla  turbine.

Hitler survived many attempts on his life, but there is no evidence that anything in his history changed.

A historian who witnessed the experiment from a distance of 10 metres confirmed that the World's Fair had indeed been destroyed by fire on 14 August 1910, and that that had always been the case. Only those individuals who were within a perimeter of 10 metres from the machine still have two memories of events - one from before and one from after the experiment.

Since history had been changed, we find ourselves in a situation where it is impossible to prove that it used to be different.
But the device is still partially operational.

Time Experiment 4

Naturally, we tried to find out the winning lottery numbers and stock market listings by sending them to ourselves from the future to the past.
This doesn't work because the numbers change constantly. Our mathematician thinks that this is due to a variation in the butterfly effect in chaos theory.
Any change to reality - no matter how small - changes reality completely.
My migraines are still just as strong during these experiments, but they disappear as soon as the experiments are over.


Time Experiment 5

Wednesday, 10 March 1999 :
Today we received a small, indefinable object in the machine.
We did not send out anything in response; some of the objects we sent never arrived.
Is there another time machine somewhere? Perhaps the original model or a machine made later by Tesla.
On the day he died, in January 1943, FBI agents (at least that is how they identified themselves) burst into his apartment and made away with a number of documents and objects.
We must take greater precautions.