Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency seems to have retreated from its earlier, mind-boggling story saying that an Iranian scientist had invented the world’s first "time machine."
Yes, you read that correctly: the world’s first time machine. Fars initially reported that the device could fit into a computer case and predict a person’s marriage age, education, occupation and number of children just by their touch. (It's not clear precisely why the device is identified as a time machine when it doesn't move people through time, although the Telegraph and others have translated the original Farsi this way.)
The device’s alleged inventor, 27-year-old Ali Razeghi, also said it could forecast wars and epidemics with 98 percent accuracy, and that the United States had invested several billion dollars in research on a similar machine.
But by the time the story went viral on English-language media -- earning mentions everywhere from the Telegraph to Fox News to Wired -- the Fars news story was offline. The link to the original Farsi story now goes to an error page. It seems it never even made it to the news agency's English service.
So much for the invention that “satisfies all the needs of human society.”
This is not, of course, the first time Iranian propagandists have gone a little overboard in their breathless reportage. In 2008, a photo of a missile launch released by Sepah News, the media arm of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, made it into a number of U.S. papers -- until someone noticed that extra missiles had been Photoshopped into the picture. More recently, Iran’s state media gave us doctored drones, a fake stealth fighter and a lot of unconfirmed hype about a monkey's trip into space.
It’s too late to hush up this story, though. As Entekhab, another Iranian news service, notes before its own interview with the alleged time-machine inventor, the story blew up on social media even as Fars deleted it.