Time travel was possible after all.
The problem was eventually cracked in the early '20s by a team of graduate students at UC Berkeley. They knew they were on the right track when they picked up a radio message in the lab, a message that they would send five months later.
Once the formal announcement was made, the media spoke of nothing else. Every newspaper was emblazoned with MAN CONQUERS TIME, every site and stream delivered round-the-clock updates covering the global orgy of speculation. Though the theory in broad terms was widely published, the implementation details remained a closely guarded secret. Scientists were interviewed who by turns hailed the breakthrough as the single most critical event in our history, or espoused their own theory of how this would lead inexorably to humanity's destruction. Religious leaders universally decried it as a sin against God, while pundits held forth about the thorny problem of its legislation.
Yet week after week passed without humanity winking out of existence. There were no horsemen and no trumpets. The riots were fewer and farther apart; people returned to work; the pundits shifted their attention to a breaking presidential sex scandal. For most of the world, life eased back into normality.
And far beyond the hastily erected barbed wire fences, past the 24-hour armed guard, deep underground in a utility-plant–cum–Berkeley-lab, the original research team—at the gentle request of their newly appointed military counterparts—quietly stepped up their schedule.