Five Possible Reasons Nobody Showed Up For Stephen Hawking’s Retroactive Time Traveler Party

Leave whenever, still be fashionably late.

By David Wharton | Updated

This article is more than 2 years old

HawkingWhat if you threw a party for time travelers but nobody showed up? Trick question — Stephen Hawking already did it. Hawking has been telling the story for a while now, explaining that “I have experimental evidence that time travel is not possible. I gave a party for time-travelers, but I didn’t send out the invitations until after the party. I sat there a long time, but no one came.” His “time traveler party” experiment was scheduled for June 29, 2009, and it was even featured in his Discovery series Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking.

So what the hell, time travelers? Not even one of you could be bothered to put in an appearance? He’s only one of the most brilliant minds of our time, you know. I mean sure, it could just be that time travel really is an impossibility, no matter how long our species survives or how far we advance technologically. But that sort of thinking is no fun at all, so here are some other possible reasons why Hawking’s time travel soiree was so unjustly snubbed.

DocBrownIt Worked, Just Not In Our Timeline
There are all manner of theories about how time travel would work, if it worked, and one of the more popular ones posits that there are an infinite array of possible realities, with new ones constantly being created by actions and choices both monumental and seemingly insignificant. Call it the “Back to the Future model.” Maybe we’re just stuck in one of the really boring realities. Somewhere out there in the multiverse, maybe an awesomer version of me is playing beer pong with Marty McFly, Bill S. Preston, and at least three incarnations of the Doctor. But I’ll never get to be that me, at least not until I can get my hands on some plutonium and a DeLorean.

inviteThe Invitations Didn’t Survive Long Enough
Of course, Professor Hawking’s experiment depends on one very important thing: the invitations to the party have to survive long enough to reach the hypothetical time travelers in the future. That’s a tall order given that there’s no telling how long it will be before we invent a way to time travel, assuming we ever do. It stands to reason that we can only increase the chances of altering the time-space continuum by making sure there are as many copies of the invites out there as possible, so throw one up on the wall of your office or dorm room wall already. Especially if that wall is statistically likely to survive an apocalypse involving one or more of the following: nuclear war, pandemics, zombie outbreaks, devastating solar flares, the reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field, planet-killer asteroid impacts, alien invasion, giant interdimensional monsters, global warming, global cooling, global infertility, or the Earth’s demolition in order to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

JerksTime Travelers Are Dicks
I’m certainly not the first to propose this theory, but maybe the time travelers of the future just aren’t thoughtful enough to validate Hawking’s experiment by swinging by to put in an historic appearance. I mean, if I had access to a time machine, I’d totally hop back to 2009 just to hang with Hawking, and I’d bring all my hypothetical time traveling buddies along as well. Hell, we could leave whenever we like and still be fashionably late. But not everybody’s as nice as I am, and in spite of what movies and television have taught us, there’s no guarantee that time travel will eventually be discovered by noble, benevolent individuals. It could just as easily be discovered by a bunch of jerks. Maybe they’re sitting around in some future era, reading about Hawking’s party on some crazy future telepathic version of Wikipedia and laughing their butts off because they totally could attend, but they’re totally not going to. Because they’re dicks.

NoControlThey Have No Control Over Their Time Traveling
Look, just because you figure out how to time travel, that doesn’t mean you have any control over where and when you wind up. Ask Dr. Sam Beckett. Ask Billy Pilgrim. Ask Fry, Bender, and Professor Farnsworth in that episode where they invent a time machine that only goes forward. Maybe they really, really wanted to go to Hawking’s bash. Maybe they even invented time travel for the express purpose of going to Hawking’s bash. But damn it, instead they’re stuck setting right what once went wrong, and who knows how long that to-do list is. Hawking’s a smart guy, maybe he ought to try to figure out how to rescue somebody who’s unstuck in time. If he got me off that temporal merry-go-round, he ain’t paying for his drinks ever again.

WelcomeHawking Killed Them All To Preserve The Time-Space Continuum
If there’s one thing that time travel stories have taught us, it’s that time travel is freakin’ dangerous. Step on one measly bug in the past? BOOM, time-space damage! Accidentally make out with a young version of your mom? BOOM, time-space damage! Even one time traveler could tie the time-space continuum in knots. A whole mess of them could represent a horrific threat to those of us who enjoy the fundamentals of cause and effect, not to mention not having to outrun dinosaurs on our commute to work. But how can you stop such a threat when it won’t even be invented until some undefined time in our future? Well, let’s say there was a way to get all those time travelers in one place, at one time. All gathered together, with their guard down, having a good time. And then say you poisoned the punch bowl…

Look, I’m not saying Stephen Hawking single-handedly saved us from rampant time distortions and the collapse of our entire universe, but…no, actually, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Like a boss.