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Science of TRON

Listen to audio from the "Science of TRON" panel, featuring director Joe Kosinski, producer Sean Bailey, and science consultants Sean Carroll & John Dick. Learn More

interstellar travel

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Packing Your Bags for Interstellar Travel

“The Earth is the cradle of the mind—but one cannot eternally live in a cradle.” —Tsiolkovsky

While the Russian rocket scientist quoted above may not have lived long enough to witness humans leaving Earth for space, I imagine he would be quite pleased to know not only how far we have come but also just how close we are to finally being able to go where we once only dreamed. 

Fantasy into Science, or Realizing the Impossible: Interstellar Travel

Some things are impossible because they violate fundamental laws of the universe, as far as we know. The theory of relativity says that neither matter nor information can travel faster than light. Matter because an object reaches infinite mass at the speed of light. (Though the recent measurement of neutrinos apparently traveling faster than light remains to be explained, most physicists suspect it reflects a subtle error, not an overthrow of the theory of relativity.) Information because that would reverse the order of cause and effect for some observers, effectively enabling time travel and violating everything we think we know about how nature operates. Other things are impossible, or at least extremely difficult, because of practical or engineering limitations rather than fundamental ones.