Call it either a solid refutation of the concept of time travel or the future’s greatest snub: on June 28, 2009, the late theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking threw a lavish party at the prestigious University of Cambridge. Balloons and a banner festooned the hall, hors-d'oeuvres were provided, and 10 bottles of Krug were poured into a pyramid of champagne flutes. Attendance, technically, was open to all and sundry. But none came.
To be fair, invitations were only sent out four years after the event had taken place, making it extremely difficult for anyone occupying the same time-space continuum as Hawking to attend. Yet, as the host later explained, throwing a party that flopped was precisely the point. “I have experimental evidence that time travel is not possible,” he informed the Seattle Science Festival in 2012. “I sat there a long time, but no one came”.
More than a year after the great man’s passing, Christie’s is gearing up to auction off an artist’s proof of the invitation along with other items from his estate, including the typescript of his thesis, a bomber jacket, and the oldest of his wheelchairs (the proceeds of which will go to the Motor Neuron Disease Association and The Stephen Hawking Foundation).
Of course, a scientist as exacting as Hawking knew that his experiment didn’t conclusively prove that time travel wasn’t possible. While the invitation gave coordinates for the location of the party, it could be that some folk meaning to attend had gotten lost travelling down a wormhole on their way. Or, alternatively, maybe no one really did want to attend. As conjectured on Giant Freakin Robot, it could merely be the case that ‘Time Travellers are dicks.”