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Monday, January 19, 2009

The time-traveling physics of BACK TO THE FUTURE

The staff of Overthinking It has been celebrating an entire week devoted to the Back to the Future trilogy, of which among the highlights is this exhaustive look at the science and physics of how time travel works in the movie series. There's stuff so dense in this article, that even I can barely comprehend it (then again, I've always sucked at more complex math... and there's a ton of it in this essay).

That's all well and good, fellas. And congrats on all the hard work you poured into this. But what I'd really like to know is: when can we expect to see Mr. Fusion on the store shelves? :-)


Anonymous said...

I know this may seem 'geeky', but I've always wondered if we could, at some point, travel faster than the speed of light, and 'get in front of' the light emitted from earth for the past 2k years and 'view' history like a dvr recording... that's 'sort of' time traveling..

Eric W.

Chris Knight said...

Funny that you mention that Eric. I just finished reading Matthew Stover's latest Star Wars novel (am doing a review of it later this week) and he uses to great and realistic effect the amount of time that it takes light from an event to reach the observer. A real-world example is also our moon: when we look at it, we're actually looking at light that reflected off of it nearly two seconds earlier, so that's a form of "viewing history" right there.

I imagine that if there are any intelligent beings around 64.5 light years out, they might be able to "witness" the first atomic detonations on Earth as they "occur". Those were certainly bright enough.

Interesting thinking, bro :-)