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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

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Men in Black 3: Going Back in Time

Two familiar men in black suits are back in theaters on May 25, 2012, and this time, more than aliens are involved. In this released trailer for Men in Black 3, J discovers K has been dead for 40 years. With the help of a small device and a jump from the Empire State Building, J travels back in time to find some answers to K’s mysterious death.

Time travel is a popular storyline in television and film (Back to the Future, Lost, The Time Traveler’s Wife, to name a few). It is also a frequently requested subject for science consulting. But is it possible? Or even plausible? Well, we have some good news and we have some bad news.

Science on Tap: Time Travel

“You think that the past is fixed and the future is up for grabs, but as far as the laws of physics are concerned they are equally real,” said Caltech’s Sean Carroll with a mischievous grin that seemed to suggest that he could actually see every brain in the room processing his words, accelerating to keep up.

On January 11, The Science & Entertainment Exchange held the second installment of its ongoing series Science on Tap at the Formosa Café in West Hollywood. The latest topic: From Eternity to Here: Time Travel for Beginners. Professor Sean Carroll wowed as the night’s one and only speaker in an interactive banter over beer on the nature of time, spaghettification (as a technical term), and why time travel is absolutely possible – in fact we do it every day … slowly forward.

Wormholes: The Superstars of Inter-Stellar Travel

You might not have noticed their stellar performances, but with feature roles in Thor and Green Lantern, wormholes are the biggest movie stars of the summer. Not to mention, without these theoretical shortcuts in space-time, neither film would have much of a plot. A wormhole (the characters call it an “Einstein-Rosen bridge”) in Thor allows the film’s characters to travel between the Nine Realms and in Green Lantern, Hal Jordan travels to Oa through a wormhole (though it’s not mentioned in the film). Without wormholes, neither superhero would have gotten very far – nor would the plot.

For All Time

The film adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger's bestselling novel, The Time Traveler's Wife, hits theaters this weekend. For those unfamiliar with the premise, it concerns a Chicago librarian named Harry (Eric Bana) who suffers from a rare genetic disorder that causes him to live on a constantly shifting timeline, shuttling back and forth between past, present and future with no control over this unusual quirk.

This understandably throws a wrench into his relationship with Clare (Rachel McAdams), who must cope with his sudden disappearances and re-appearances as best she can over the course of their marriage.

Let's leave aside the fact that no genetic disorder could possibly cause this kind of anomaly in the space-time continuum. We're talking about fantasy, after all, which demands a certain willing suspension of disbelief.