If you're into time travel, mark your calendar for Saturday, May 7, 2005, when the first Time Traveler Convention will be held at MIT. Or if you miss it, perhaps you can wait a few years and attend anyway. That's kind of what organizer Amal Dorai is banking on.
While scientists have not figured out the practical specifics of time travel, they also haven't ruled it out as a possibility.
Dorai, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science, hatched a rather ingenious plan to test the concept. Though obviously a stunt, the whole idea is a mindbender worthy of any scientifically inclined mind.
"We are doing this as a very low-risk, low-cost way to investigate the possibility of time travel," Dorai told LiveScience. "Of course the odds are against us, but imagine the scientific discovery we would have on our hands if a time traveler shows up. Of course, no time travelers doesn't rule out the possibility of time travel; they could have just decided not to come to our convention."
The gathering will be held at MIT's East Campus Courtyard. Dorai gave the specific coordinates for anyone needing to plug them into some futuristic machine: 42:21:36.025?N, 71:05:16.332?W.
Though perhaps someone already has attendance figures, they were not available when this article was filed.
The convention's plans sound pretty loose.
"We have a basic party planned but we also hope to get speeches about time travel from a few MIT professors if they are interested," Dorai said. "In any case, the party is only a backup in case no time travelers come, since if they do show up they will of course be the center of attention."
And how might someone a few millennia from now find out about the event, should they wish to attend?
Dorai suggests those interested in helping "write the details down on a piece of acid-free paper, and slip them into obscure books in academic libraries," or "carve them into a clay tablet."
On the geek-chat web site Slashdot, the convention has spawned lively discussions, including whether it would be possible to travel back in time and kill Hitler before he rose to power. One person wrote, "I already went" to the convention. And another asked: "Why didn't they set the date for yesterday? That way we wouldn't have to wait to see if it was successful."
Anyone attending the convention from the future is advised by Dorai to bring proof, such as "a cure for AIDS or cancer, a solution for global poverty, or a cold fusion reactor."
More information about Saturday's event can be found at the convention web site.