Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Science or Science Fiction?

Welcome back to the nostalgic world of ‘Science or Science Fiction?’ where I look at some of our favourite science fiction gadgets and gizmos and whether they could ever satisfy our inner nerd by becoming a reality. So far we have looked at relatively modern culture with the Lightsaber and Iron Man’s incredible armour, but I think for my final blog, I want to go retro.

Let’s go Back to the Future with the Time-Travelling DeLorean!

Sourced from ‘Back to the Future’

In the 1980’s movie franchise of Back to the Future, we see a young teen Marty Mcfly (Micheal J Fox) and a frankly eccentric Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) travelling back and forth through time periods using a DeLorean DMC-12 that Doc has customised for thirty years to be capable of time travel. But could this ever truly happened back in the time between 1950 and 1980? If not, could it e made today? And if so, what are the real world applications?

To determine the real world possibility of the time travelling DeLorean, we need to first look at the features of the car. The main feature of the DeLorean that allows for Time travel is the ‘Flux Capacitor’. During the movies, Doc never actually explains how the Flux Capacitor works, yet many have resolved to try determine how the gadget allows for the DeLorean (which is mentioned to be an ideal shape for time travel) to move through time. But nobody truly knows how it works, so we cannot make a conclusion from this point.

Sourced from ‘Back to the Future’

What I can say is that according to film analyst Peter Sciretta’s article ‘How the Flux Capacitor Works,’ the flux capacitor requires a 1.2 gigawatt battery to operate. To put this in perspective, that’s equal to 12000000000 watts, which is enough to power 2 billion household light-bulbs as a comparison. The problem with this is that such a large amount of power requires a plutonium-powered nuclear reactor in the movies. Now, an immediate issue with this is that a normal person would not have access to the plutonium required for this reactor.

Sourced from Matt Groening’s ‘The Simpsons’

But for the sake of science, let us say that somehow someone acquired some for their reactor. The next problem is that a reactor of this type would require a huge cooling system and space to operate, one that would not fit into the boot of a car like in Doc’s DeLorean.

Despite scientist’s not truy knowing if time travel is actually a possible feat, we ca still determine that from what we are told in the films and the scientific impossibilities, it is extremely unlikely that we would see a time travelling car in the 1980’s or see one today. But imagine if there was?

How would this effect the world?

Well, think about it after I give you a pretty well-known example. In Matt Groening’s ‘Futurama’, the main character Phillip J. Fry goes back in time (after cooking some popcorn in the microwave) and accidentally kills his grandfather, then BECOMES his grandfather unintentionally.

Sourced from Matt Groening’s ‘Futurama’. Fry becomes his own grandfather

We can all understand why time travel is something the world does not need. Despite the fact it could save lives and prevent some bad incidents, the issue is that no one would ever understand the repercussions of their actions in the past, possibly altering the future in very dramatic ways. So probably better that we leave the time surfing to Marty and Doc.

Well, that’s al from me folks, thank you very much for following my blogs and keep that science going! Who knows, maybe we will see more Science Fiction become true Science.

Will Harris.


-Groening, Matt, The Simpsons, 20th Century Fox Studios, California, America.

-Groening, Matt, Futurama, 20th Century Fox Studios, California, America.

-Scireta, Mark, How the Flux Capacitor Works, SlashFilm, 2013.

Back to the Future trilogy, Universal Picture Studios, 1985.






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This entry was posted on May 7, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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