Starts With A Bang

Ask Ethan: What science experiments will open the door to the future? (Synopsis)

The ALPHA collaboration has come the closest of any experiment to measuring the behavior of neutral antimatter in a gravitational field. Depending on the results, this could open the door to incredible new technologies. Image credit: Maximilien Brice/CERN.

“Imagination makes us aware of limitless possibilities. How many of us haven’t pondered the concept of infinity or imagined the possibility of time travel? In one of her poems, Emily Bronte likens imagination to a constant companion, but I prefer to think of it as a built-in entertainment system.” -Alexandra Adornetto

The dream of futuristic technologies and what they might enable us to do — travel back in time, create artificial gravity, traverse the stars, create unlimited energy — are some of the best goals science can aspire to. While a great many of the technologies we’ve envisioned might well prove to be physically impossible, these four could immediately become reality if just one experiment, potentially within the next decade, reveals a surprise it should be able to detect.

All rockets ever envisioned require some type of fuel, but if a dark matter engine were created, new fuel is always to be found simply by traveling through the galaxy. Image credit: NASA / MSFC.

If dark matter is detected and proves to be its own antiparticle, then all we need to do is figure out how to harness it and unlimited fuel along an interstellar journey is ours for the taking. Antimatter might fall upwards in a gravitational field, having a negative mass, which would create artificial gravity and even, potentially, warp drive. And if the Universe rotates with just the right value, traveling back in time might become a part of science, not just science fiction.

The idea of traveling back in time is presently relegated to the realm of science fiction. However, if there are closed time-like curves allowed in our Universe, it’s not only possible, it’s inevitable. Image credit: Genty / Pixabay.

There are experiments ongoing today and ones presently under design that might unlock these mysteries and more. Find out all about them on this week’s Ask Ethan!