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Ready for rendezvous with time travel

Cambridge (Massachusetts), May 6: Suppose it is the future ' maybe a thousand years from now. There is no static cling, diapers change themselves, and everyone who is anyone summers on Mars.

Whatís more, it is possible to travel back in time, to any place, any era. Where would people go' Would they zoom to a 2005 Saturday night for chips and burgers in a college courtyard, eager to schmooze with computer science majors possessing way too many brain cells'

Why not, say some students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who have organised what they call the first convention for time travellers.

Actually, they contend that theirs is the only time traveller convention the world needs, because people from the future can travel to it anytime they want. 'I would hope they come with the idea of showing us that time travel is possible,' said Amal Dorai, 22, the graduate student who thought up the convention, which will be held tomorrow on the M.I.T. campus.

'Maybe they could leave something with us. It is possible they might look slightly different, the shape of the head, the body proportions.'

The event is potluck and alcohol-free ' present-day humans are bringing things like brownies. But Doraiís website asks that future-folk bring something to prove they are really ahead of our time: 'Things like a cure for AIDS or cancer, a solution for global poverty or a cold fusion reactor would be particularly convincing as well as greatly appreciated.'

He would also welcome people from only a few days in the future, far enough to, say, give him a few stock market tips.

While Dorai has precisely calculated that 'the odds of a time traveller showing up are between one in a million and one in a trillion,' organisers have tried to make things inviting. In case their august university does not exist forever, they have posted the latitude and longitude of the east campus courtyard (42:21:36.025 degrees north, 71:05:16.332 degrees west).

To set the mood, organisers plan to display a DeLorean ' the sleek but short-lived 1980ís car that was the time-travelling vehicle in the Back to the Future movies.

No future-guests are confirmed as of yet, although one responder purports to be from 2026. But among the 100 likely attendees, there are those from another time zone 'Chicago ' and from New York, which at least likes to think of itself as light-years ahead.

'If you can just give up a Saturday night, thereís a very small chance at it being the biggest event in human history', Dorai said. And if it is a flop, futuristically speaking' Well, Dorai reasoned, 'Certainly, if no one from the future shows up, that wonít prove that itís impossible.'

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