Travelling through time, invisibility cloaks and teleporting could all happen within today’s children’s lifetimes, experts have predicted
Move over Marty McFly – time travel, invisibility cloaks and teleporting could all happen within today’s schoolchildren’s lifetimes, experts agree.
Children could be travelling between centuries as soon as the year 2100, while teleportation could become a regular occurence by around 2080, professors from Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow have said.
“The good thing about teleportation is that there is no fundamental law telling us that it cannot be done and with technical advances I would estimate teleportation that we see in the films will be with us by 2080,” said Dr. Mary Jacquiline Romero from the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow.
“Teleporting a person, atom by atom, will be very difficult and is of course a physicist’s way, but perhaps developments in chemistry or molecular biology will allow us to do it more quickly. The good thing about teleportation is that there is no fundamental law telling us that it cannot be done and with technical advances I would estimate teleportation that we see in the films will be with us by 2080,” she said.
Time travel into the future has already been achieved, but only in miniscule amounts, Colin Stuart, science communicator and author of The Big Questions in Science said.
“Time travel to the future has already been achieved, but only in tiny amounts. The record is 0.02 seconds set by cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev. Whilst that doesn’t sound too impressive, it does show that time travel to the future is possible and that the amount of time travel couldn’t be far greater,” he argued.
“If you travelled through space on a big loop at 10 per cent the speed of light for what seemed to you like six months, approximately six months and one day would have passed on Earth. You’d have time travelled a day into the future. Travel at the same speed for 10 years and you’ll time travel nearly three weeks into the future. I would say we are looking at 2100 as a very optimistic timescale for travelling weeks into the future.”
Invisibility cloaks, as featured in Harry Potter, could be “entirely feasible” within the next 10 to 20 years, Professor Chris Phillips, Professor of Experimental Solid State Physics at Imperial College London said.
“One way to create an ‘invisibility cloak’ is to use adaptive camouflage, which involves taking a film of the background of an object or person and projecting it onto the front to give the illusion of vanishing, ” he added.
“We’re actually not that far away from this becoming a reality – rudimentary technology versions of this have already been created – but the main problem is that the fibre-like structures in the adaptive camouflage need to be so tightly woven that it’s incredibly labour intensive. With developments such as 3D printing allowing us to create previously impossible materials, it’s entirely feasible that we could see a ‘Harry Potter’-like invisibility cloak within the next 10 to 20 years.”
The research was conducted by the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair, which compared the predictions of scientists to that of a panel of 11-16 year-olds.
While their speculation was largely in line with the experts’ expectations, the children thought time travel could be feasible by 2078. They also dramatically overestimated when they might be able to become space tourists – anticipating it might take another 30 years, when commercial space flights are due to launch in 2015.
In 2011 Nike created Marty McFly’s famous self-tying trainers as featured in the second instalment of the Back to the Future franchise, to the delight of fans worldwide. Scientists and engineers also teamed up earlier this month to create a real hoverboard, as funded by Kickstarter .