Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking likes two things: simple experiments and Champagne. In that spirit, he combined these pleasures to challenge one of humanity’s age old questions: will humans ever be able to time travel? And if they ever figure it out, would they show up for some free bubbly?
To test those theories, Hawking threw a Champagne-filled party in 2009 for time travelers interested in boozing it up, complete with Krug and hors d’oeuvres. But to ensure only real-deal decade-hoppers would attend, he didn’t release the invitations until after the party had taken place. If people had shown up, he hypothesized, it would be proof that time travel is real. The eventual lack of party-goers could be seen as supporting evidence that time travel isn’t possible— well, probably isn’t possible.
“I sat there a long time, but no one came,” Hawking said in a statement following the quiet affair. Footage from the party was included in his documentary “Into the Universe,” which showed balloons scattered around the room and around 10 bottles of Krug poured into a pyramid of Champagne flutes. Small plates were served alongside the drinks, all of which remained untouched. To be fair, the invitation didn’t say there was going to be Krug. Maybe someone would have made the multidimensional journey if it had.
“You are cordially invited to a reception for time travelers hosted by Professor Stephen Hawking,” the invite read. “To be held in the past, at the University of Cambridge Gonville & Caius College, Trinity Street, Cambridge.” It also added the latitude and longitude, the date of June 28, 2009, and the very necessary disclaimer: “No RSVP required.”
As to why no one showed up to finish the snacks and sparkling, it could simply be because time travel hasn’t been cracked by us or our descendants. (If you’re a fan of Starz’ time-bending drama “Outlander” or Christopher Nolar’s space epic “Interstellar,” you may be open to the possibility it may, in fact, happen one day.) But entertainment and science blog Giant Freakin Robot came up with a few alternative reasons no one attended Hawking’s experimental event, even if humans could visit the past or future at will, and we’re compelled to say they’re somewhat convincing: the party took place on a different reality timeline, the invitations didn’t survive long enough for anyone centuries later to see, “time travelers are dicks,” time travelers don’t have control of their ability to travel, or, most ominously, Hawking killed them all “to preserve the time-space continuum.”
Offing a room full of Champagne-drunk time travelers without being discovered would be quite the feat for anyone— and a questionable moral choice — but it would have been all in the name of science if Hawking was behind it.
The famed theoretical physicist and cosmologist, who passed away in 2018, is known for having one of the most brilliant scientific minds in human history. His 1988 magnum opus, “A Brief History of Time,” details his life’s work studying the big bang, black holes, and other cosmic quandaries. The scientist, whose life and marriage was dramatized in 2014’s Academy Award-winning drama “The Theory of Everything,” was known for having quite the sense of humor —so this space-time-bending rager wasn’t an entirely surprising stunt. Perhaps he just roasted any interdimensional guests that did dip into the Krug so hard that they hopped back to their own year of origin before last call. We couldn’t blame them if they did.
So, what really happened at the now-famous soirée that’s come to be known as the Stephen Hawking Time Travel Party? We may never know. (Or do we somehow know already?) As Hawking put it, “What a shame.”