Scientists have revealed that they are searching the internet for evidence of time travellers.

The bad news? They haven't found any - yet.

Physicists Robert Nemiroff and Teresa Wilson from Michigan Tech university said in a paper released last month that their experiments were designed to root out anyone visiting our world from another age.

The aim was specifically to find "a prescient mention of information not previously available" - in other words, an accurate prediction which was verifiably not just a good guess.

Three methods were used to look for evidence of time travel, all involving looking for predictions or mentions of the arrival of Comet Ison and the election of Pope Francis before both events occurred.

The first method scoured traditional social media sites, including Twitter. The second method used data listing searches made on Google and other engines, to see whether particular terms trended before they had any reason to spike (the researchers actually used data from an astronomy website in this case). The third method looked at emails and other peer-to-peer data, which could pre-date the event in question.

"Were a time traveler from the future to access the Internet of the past few years, they might have left once-prescient content that persists today," they said.

"Alternatively, such information might have been placed on the Internet by a third party discussing something unusual they have heard."

The researchers did admit one other downside to their experiment (other than the fact that Stephen Hawking had got there first with his party for time-travellers, held before he sent out the invites) - they only allowed for time-travellers going backwards. And unfortunately this is the one direction of time-travel that we have no evidence for - time-travel forwards is a scientific fact, and already has a human world-champion.

Regardless, they pressed on, carried out the test and found no evidence that anyone from the future is currently active online. Still, they add that only a small percentage of all internet traffic was searched, and said it was still worthwhile carrying out the test on a bigger scale.

"No time travelers were discovered. Although these negative results do not disprove time travel, given the great reach of the Internet, this search is perhaps the most comprehensive to date."

However there may be another reason no evidence was found - it may be impossible to find anything that might contradict the laws of physics, even if it exists:

"It may be physically impossible for us to find such information as that would violate some yet-unknown law of physics," the researchers said.

Which means that even if time-travellers are here, we can't find them, because they shouldn't be here.

Brilliant.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Samsung Galaxy Gear

    2013 was supposed to be the year of the smartwatch - and it some ways it was. Pebble, Sony and Samsung all released new takes on the retro-futurist staple in the last 12 months. But none of them were compelling products for the mainstream, and none were as disappointing as the Galaxy Gear. With a severe lack of apps, a stripped-back, proprietary interface and nonsensical notifications (which required you to check your phone anyway) this was a product without a purpose. And reports of low sales seem to confirm that it's not long for this world, in its current form. A r<a href="http://www.engadget.com/2013/12/19/samsung-galaxy-gear-notification-update-reaches-the-us/" target="_blank">ecent update</a> helped matters a little. But look for Samsung et al (including Apple) to do better next year.

  • Facebook Home

    <a href="https://www.facebook.com/home.php" target="_blank">Facebook Home</a> was supposed to be the social network's trojan horse, ready to turn your Android phone into a Facebook phone through a simple app download. Instead it turned into a disaster, with buggy, poorly designed software and minimal take-up even by Facebook's most committed users.

  • Comet ISON

    Comet ISON was supposed to be the Comet of the Century, lighting up the winter skies brighter than the Moon in full daylight. Instead it approached the Sun, <a href="www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/12/02/comet-ison-is-dead_n_4371817.html?1385997146" target="_blank">fizzed a bit and then blew up.</a>

  • Microsoft Surface

    The Microsoft Surface line of tablet computers (both the original RT and the Pro) were ambitious but flawed attempts to take the iPad on at its own game. The RT ran a weird, incompatible version of Windows, while the Pro suffered from a heavy price tag, and a heavy form factor. The new Surface 2 line looks much better - but it didn't arrive before Microsoft <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2013/7/18/4535976/microsoft-lost-900-million-on-surface-rt" target="_blank">had to suffer almost a $1 billion write-down</a> on the RT alone.

  • BlackBerry 10

    When it arrived in January 2013, BlackBerry 10 was already delayed and out-dated. So while it was supposed to take RIM (or BlackBerry, as it is now) back to the mainstream of the smartphone market, it actually contributed to its marketshare declining even further to below 1% in America. It's now focusing on "business" customers, even as its executives struggle to keep the lights on.

  • Wii U

    It pains us to say this, because Nintendo's Wii U console has been responsible for some of the best, most memorable and family-friendly gaming experiences of 2013 from the return of Wii Sports to Super Mario 3D World, Pikmin 3 and the Wonderful 101. But you can't ignore that for most of 2013, the Wii U was painfully underserved with decent games, sold a woefully small number of units and squandered its early start against the Xbox One and PS4. 2014 should bring more great games - including Mario Kart 8 and a new Smash Bros game. But will it be too late?

  • Ouya

    Ouya was supposed to take Android living room gaming and turn it into a grass-roots phenomenon. Instead it gave us the worst controller in recent memory, very few truly stand-out games and and overall feeling of a missed opportunity - beautiful design and commendable ideals aside.

  • Sim City

    EA's reboot of the classic city-building simulation was a beautiful, complex and addictive game - with two fatal flaws. The first was technical, with EA's servers simply unable to cope with the game's online requirements. The second was more fundamental - the game's "cities" were actually restricted to the size of small towns, leading to almost immediate space frustrations when building your idea metropolis. Alas.

  • The PadFone

    2013 was the year that Asus's innovative two-in-one phone-tablet hybrid finally arrived in the UK. And it was a bust, let's face it, with customers failing to take to the notion that having a giant screen to slide your phone into and use as a pretty basic Android tablet was better than just having an iPad next to the sofa. Maybe we'll see another stab at it in 2014 - or maybe Asus will concede that just making a good phone and a good tablet is hard enough.