The notion of time travel has captivated and astounded the human imagination for centuries. From ancient stories to modern-day books, the possibility of traversing through time and space has always been something we yearn for as a species.
While pop-culture has given us a plethora of symbols and instruments to facilitate time travel — who can ever forget the flux capacitor in Back to the Future, right? — one of the more intriguing myths is the “Chronovisor”.
But what is it? The Chronovisor is an instrument that can allegedly see events in the past — and even witness historic moments. Never heard of it? That’s because it was supposed to be a secret, but its supposed existence leaked nonetheless.
The Chronovisor is said to have been created in the early 1960s by a group of respected Italian physicists, engineers, and mathematicians led by Pellegrino Ernetti, a Benedictine Friar and former physicist. Ernetti claimed that the machine could look into the past and bring back recordings of historic events, like a television, using the combination of a cathode-ray tube, dials, antennas, and some sort of resonance amplifier. The images it supposedly captured from the past appeared in hologram form, and users could even rotate them to view different perspectives.
The Chronovisor used a process known as “chronotopology. it is said. The idea behind it is that it was possible to recreate the past through vibrations left in space-time. Essentially, it tuned into the frequencies of the past and deconstructed those frequencies into images and sounds, effectively teleporting the user back to that specific moment in time to view. It was an extraordinary claim with little to no scientific clarity, of course; yet, stories of the time-travelling machine sparked some people’s fascination and made it into the realm of pop-culture.
The claimed capabilities of the Chronovisor have become wild and far-reaching over — ahem — time. In the mid-1970s, Father Francois Brune, who had investigated the machine, published a book about it, “The Vatican’s New Mystery.” He described how Father Ernetti had used it to witness, among other things, the crucifixion of Christ, and the Roman senate meetings. According to Father Brune’s account, other events that the machine had re-created in 3D included:
• Napoleon Bonaparte delivering a speech to his army;
• a performance of a lost Roman tragedy by the poet Ennius;
• the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War in 1648;
• the construction of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem; and,
• Dante’s journey through the realms of the afterlife as described in the Divine Comedy.
These claims were never widely supported, and many people rejected them as just simply a figment of the inventor’s imagination. Critics suggested that the machine’s main proponent, Father Ernetti, made up the legends in a bid for publicity and that it was all a well-crafted hoax. Inevitably, the scientific community dismissed the Chronovisor as an impossibility, as well.
Some people remained convinced though. In recent years, writers, researchers, and conspiracy theorists resurrected the Chronovisor story, arguing that elements of the claims are true, and that the machine or another similar time-viewing device exists. They claim that officials from the Vatican, the CIA, and the U.S. military are in possession of the working Chronovisors — and that they use them to view the past’s most significant moments.
Many have also pointed to supposed references to time travel in ancient texts. One of the more compelling arguments in favor of the Chronovisor’s legitimacy, though, is the project’s startling group of creators, the alleged inventors of the chronovisor, including: Enrico Fermi, a Nobel winner in physics, Werner von Braun, who helped mastermind the Nazi weapons that terrorized Europe, and the Italian rocket scientist General Umberto Ortenzi. All are certainly accomplished persons, and it would not be beyond the realm of possibility that this outstanding group of innovators had the skills and resources to develop such a machine.
Indeed, some people believe that the U.S. government became interested in the legend of the Chronovisor, and it began a project to develop their own time-viewing device. Ironically, the American intelligence agency that is said to have explored time travel was the same that had recruited Wernher von Braun at the end of World War II: the CIA.
This fascination with the Chronovisor continues, with no shortage of speculation and imaginations running wild. While there is no concrete evidence to suggest that the time-travelling viewing machine exists, it remains a fixture of some people’s fascination with time travel and its possibilities. Ultimately, whether it is a hoax or a functioning invention reportedly housed deep below the Vatican, as some stories relay, the Chronovisor’s stories certainly spark imagination and wonder.
Featured photo by Mat Brown from Pexels