What If You Gave a Party for Time Travellers and No One Showed Up?

I love the idea of time travel and all the theories of it and all the fiction that has been created about it. That giant of theoretical physics, cosmology, and pop culture, Stephen Hawking, once did a simple time travel experiment. He invited time travelers to a party.

It was held on a Sunday, June 29, 2009. Hawking had a nice party room set up with champagne and food at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, beneath a banner reading, “Welcome Time Travellers” and he waited.

The party invitations gave precise GPS coordinates for the travelers. Of course, Stephen did not send out any of the invitations until after the reception had passed. That was critical to the experimental design: Only those who could travel back in time would be able to attend.

No one showed up. There is a video of the party. Canapes uneaten, flutes filled with Krug champagne untouched, balloons decorating the place and Stephen sitting in his wheelchair under that banner.

Wouldn't any future time traveler have been excited to go back and party with Hawking? 

The invitation was included in his mini-series Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking and the Discovery TV crew filmed the event just in case someone did travel back. 

Some fancy invitations were auctioned off for charity and the party got a lot of press and exists all over the Internet. “I’m hoping copies of [the invitation], in one form or another, will survive for many thousands of years,” Hawking said, considering that maybe some future time traveler will see it and decide to show up to the party. Of course, that would create a whole new timeline in one of the many possible universes out there.

So why didn't any time travelers attend? I've seen a bunch of possible reasons posited.

  1. We never do figure out how to time travel because it's not possible. A bummer reason for believers.
  2. Maybe people in the future who had a way to time travel just never knew about Hawking's party.
  3. Despite Hawking's wishes, the invites didn't survive to the time when time travel was invented.
  4. Might Stephen had lied and they did show up but he kept it secret to protect the space-time continuum?
  5. Perhaps you can only travel back to the point where time travel was invented.
  6. Maybe the party didn't sound all that exciting and they decided to pass on this party.
  7. The blog Giant Freakin Robot came up with some other possible reasons including that the party took place on a different reality timeline;
  8. “time travelers are dicks” 
  9. Even if people do figure out how to time travel, they may not have precise control like Doc Brown. "Ask Dr. Sam Beckett. Ask Billy Pilgrim. Ask Fry, Bender, and Professor Farnsworth who invented a time machine that only goes forward"
  10. The darker version of #4 - "Hawking killed them all to preserve the time-space continuum.”

An earlier version of this post appeared on my blog Weekends in Paradelle

Tree Tracking

Tom Brown Jr, is Americas most renowned tracker, and wilderness survival expert. His book, The Tracker: The True Story of Tom Brown Jr., which I read in 1987 is still one of my favorite books to share with people. 

Tom's many books range from autobiography, to field guides, to the spiritual. I listed examples at the bottom of this post.

In this brief video, he talks about what stories you can find from careful observation of trees and plants, especially in winter when they have become bare.

Though nothing compares to taking a class with Tom, you can learn much from the books and his videos on YouTube


Sir Francis Bacon and Doubt

Sir Francis Bacon, born in 1561 in London, is known as a philosopher, a statesman, an essayist, and a champion of modern science. 

Bacon was born into a family with connections at court. Unfortunately, as a young man, he criticized Queen Elizabeth's tax levy, so he fell out of favor with the royals.

After Elizabeth was succeeded by James I, he got back in favor with the new King. He was named the Lord Chancellor in 1618, but he ruined that by accepting bribes. He was convicted in 1621, and banned from political office for the rest of his life.

Despite all the politics, at heart, he was an intellectual. One of his key beliefs was in opposition to the widely-accepted view of Aristotle that knowledge should begin with universal truths. 

Bacon said, "If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties."

In his Novum Organum (1620), he wrote that scholars should build their knowledge of the world from specific, observable details. Bacon has been called the father of empiricism. His theory is now known as the scientific method and is the basis of all experimental science.

Ice Rings


The lines shown here in the ice seem quite precise - and beautiful. Ice rings are likely to be a product of change in flow created by the prior ice sheets formed.

The surface current creates viscous friction, slightly melting the outer areas of the prior sheets in the process, making a line where the currents are going around the obstacles, such as rocks in a river. 

Air flow creating the surface currents would increase the evaporation, reducing the temperature of the water and cause the surface to freeze. Ice rings (or circles) occur when moving water forces ice to slowly rotate. 

How ever, I have found no good explanation for rings I find in a large puddle around obstacles where there is no flow of water.

Ice discs, ice circles, ice pans, ice pancakes[ or ice crepes are a rare natural phenomenon that occurs in slow-moving water in cold climates.