BOSTON – Attention, time travelers: Amal Dorai (search) hopes you enjoyed the party he's throwing this weekend. Dorai, a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (search), is hosting a Time Traveler Convention on campus this Saturday. Make plans now, because it's the last such party.
"You only need one," he said. "The chance that anybody shows up is small, but if it happens it will be one of the biggest events in human history."
There's no dress code. No need to R.S.V.P. Refreshments (chips and dip) will be provided.
Dorai only asks his guests to show proof they come from the future: Bringing the cure for cancer, a solution for global poverty or a cold fusion reactor would suffice.
In case MIT is long gone by the time a time machine is invented, Dorai's invitation includes geographic coordinates for the East Campus Courtyard (42:21:36.025 degrees north, 71:05:16.332 degrees west).
To spread the word, Dorai asked friends to scribble invitations on pieces of acid-free paper and slip them into obscure library books. He is also giving media interviews and posting his thoughts on a Web site.
"The World Wide Web is unlikely to remain in its present form permanently," he wrote. "We need volunteers to publish the details of the convention in enduring forms, so that the time travelers of future millennia will be aware of the convention."
The convention starts at 8 p.m. For dramatic effect, time travelers are encouraged to show up at 10 p.m. sharp. In between, revelers will take in a lecture on time travel by an MIT physics professor and listen to student bands belting out time-themed songs.
MIT physics professor Alan Guth (search) is weighing an invitation to speak at the convention. Guth's work involves applying theoretical particle physics to the early universe, but he said he has dabbled in writing about time travel theories.
"Most of us would bet it's impossible, but none of us can prove it's impossible either," he said.
Dorai doesn't consider himself a believer or a skeptic.
"I'm an experimentalist," he said. "If there's only going to be one, it should be here at MIT."
Apart from the near-certainty that time travel is impossible, Dorai sees another potential problem. "If thousands of time travelers come, then the MIT police might try to shut the party down," he said.