In the realm of scientific speculation and cosmic exploration, few figures have captured the imagination as profoundly as the late theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking. Known for his groundbreaking work in theoretical physics, Hawking made numerous thought-provoking contributions to our understanding of the universe. Among his many captivating ideas, one that stands out is his reception for time travellers—an experiment that aimed to help unravel the mysteries of time travel.
On the 28th June 2009, Stephen Hawking opened the doors of the University of Cambridge's Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics to all potential time travellers. The reception sought to attract individuals from the future, and was not announced until after the event had taken place. However, despite the grand gesture and media attention surrounding the reception, no time travellers materialised at the event. The absence of visitors from the future does not conclusively prove that time travel is impossible, but it does highlight that our understanding of time and its potential manipulation is far from complete.
Kite got involved with Stephen Hawking’s experiment in 2012, when founder Peter Dean offered to design the invitation for the Professor’s experiment. This serendipitous series of events started with Peter discovering a newspaper article by Hawking, detailing the experiment. Inspired, Peter reached out to share his idea with an assistant of Stephen Hawking. An hour later, the Professor’s reply was returned: he was all for it.
Peter designed a beautiful edition of Steven Hawking’s Invitation for Time Travellers, which was first released as a limited edition. Of course, Stephen Hawking was presented with his own copy of the poster—during a meeting with him in Cambridge. What was meant to be a 10 minute meeting ending up stretching across an entire afternoon of conversation and laughter.
In the end, the Professor asked for a second copy of the print, so he could have one in his office and one in his home. One of his copies is now held at the Science Museum, and the other was auctioned at Christie’s for £11,250.
Stephen Hawking's reception for time travellers may have been a lonely affair, but it served as a powerful symbol of scientific curiosity and exploration. It demonstrated Hawking's unwavering dedication to pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and his willingness to challenge conventional thinking—and it certainly inspired us.
The open edition of the print Peter designed is still available to buy here.
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