The Economist explains: How can you search for time travellers?

AS WELL as being a staple of science-fiction, time travel is also the inspiration for serious (or at least semi-serious) speculation by theorists. Some have devoted themselves to working out how it might be possible in theory, if difficult in practice, to build a time machine using exotic configurations of black holes, wormholes or cosmic strings. Others have considered whether a “self-consistency principle” operates to ensure that time travellers cannot cause paradoxical situations by, for example, going back in time and murdering their own ancestors. Then there are those who have taken an experimental approach, and searched for time travellers directly. How do they do it?One idea, tried by Amal Dorai, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is to hold a convention for time travellers and see if any show up. He held such an event in May 2005, invitations for which were slipped into obscure library books or added to time capsules, in the hope that they would be found in the far future when time travel had become possible. Visitors from the future were asked to land their time machines on the MIT volleyball court, which was reserved for the occasion. But of the 450 people who attended the event, none claimed to be time travellers. In 2009 Stephen Hawking, a British physicist, performed a variation of this experiment, holding a party for …

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