There’s a very interesting event taking place at MIT tonight — the first (and only?) Time Traveler Convention. The organizers are inviting anyone in the future who is capable of time travel to travel back to the geo coordinates of this event (to be held at MIT) and attend it, along with proof that they are from the future. In order to increase the chances that this event will be discovered by the relevant people in the future, the organizers have asked as many people as possible to link to the event and have also asked people to insert acid-free paper containing the coordinates of the event into library books that are likely to be read in the future.
This event is an experiment that attempts to test whether in fact time travel will be invented in our future. The hypothesis is that if time travel is possible, and if it is discovered, and if future time-travel-capable beings also find out about this MIT Convention, then they will travel back in time to the event. Of course this begs the question of whether they actually would attend this event even if they could — for example, perhaps they prefer to remain secret at this time? Or perhaps if they prove to us that time travel is possible at this moment in our evolution it might influence their timeline such that it could risk interfering with their past discovery of time travel or risk the technology ending up in the wrong hands in the future. Or maybe, just maybe, they are simply too "cool" to travel all that distance backwards in time (and spend who knows how much money to do so) just to have cheap chips and dip for an hour or two with a room full of MIT nerds? I mean hey, if I could travel backwards in time would I go to a geek gathering at MIT or would I go somewhere more fun (and with better food and drinks too) like an imperial party in ancient Rome?
In any case, the various potential risks of time travel might outweigh the potential benefit of any actual time travelers attending the MIT event. But let’s hope that some real live time travelers do show up at the event. I know one thing for certain, if anyone does show up from the future they will probably be geeks too, since anyone who isn’t a geek probably has other parties higher on their list.
Incidentally, this event reminds me of a similar proposal I came up with last year for building a receiver that might be able to receive a message from the future. While time travel by macroscopic things like people might be difficult or impossible due to the amount of energy required and the potential negative impact on the physical structure of the traveler, sending messages backwards in time could be more practical. Such messages could be comprised of subatomic particles or tiny black holes or local disturbances in fundamental fields or physical constants. The question is, how to design a receiver that could receive messages sent by beings in the future? If anyone can think of how to do this, blog about it and link to this article (since comments are off); I’ll see your post via the trackbacks hopefully and if it’s a really good idea I’ll link to it from this article. If someone can design and actually build a suitable receiver then just like the MIT event, it could be publicized widely in the hopes that in the future if and when there is suitable technology, someone will send a message to it.
My friend, Tom Meyer, suggests that we might be able to utilize existing particle accelerators as "receivers" — his idea is that we publicize that we will be analyzing the data from a particular device for anomalies placed there as messages to us. It’s an intriquing proposal. Would it work?