Carl Sagan, Interstellar, and Stigmas

Happy belated birthday Carl Sagan!

I’m late posting this, but in case you didn’t know yesterday was Carl Sagan’s birthday! I just wanted to write a really quick post because I’m such a huge fan! I have the original Cosmos in mp3 audio, and I love listening to it. Carl isn’t just a scientist, he’s a poet. He has an almost magical way of putting words together about this earth that sound so beautiful and awe inspiring.

Back in 1999, Carl did an interview with NOVA where he talks about time travel:

“Time travel into the indefinite future is consistent with the laws of nature. It’s only travel backwards in time that is the source of the debate and the tingling sensations that physicists and science-fiction readers delight in.”

It’s really interesting to me because I find that there has been a stigma (perhaps still is) in the scientific community when addressing the topic of time travel. Even the incredible Stephen Hawking was at some point afraid about talking about it:

“Time travel was once considered scientific heresy. I used to avoid talking about it for fear of being labeled a crank. But these days I’m not so cautious. In fact, I’m more like the people who built Stonehenge. I’m obsessed by time. If I had a time machine I’d visit Marilyn Monroe in her prime or drop in on Galileo as he turned his telescope to the heavens. Perhaps I’d even travel to the end of the universe to find out how our whole cosmic story ends.”

It has only been until fairly recently that things have started to change. There are more and more physicists today, such as John Cramer and Ronald Mallet, who have come out seeking to raise funds to conduct time travel experiments. This is why I find it really impressive that over 15 years ago, Carl Sagan had the guts to talk about this idea in a very realistic, candid way- and I truly believe his work has helped change the direction of how we view time travel today.


Here are two snippets of the original interview…

Your inquiries about space travel for Contact sparked a whole new direction in research on time travel. How does that make you feel?
I find it marvelous, I mean literally marvelous, full of marvel, that this innocent inquiry in the context of writing a science-fiction novel has sparked a whole field of physics and dozens of scientific papers by some of the best physicists in the world. I’m so pleased to have played this catalytic role not just in fast spaceflight but in the idea of time travel.

How do you feel being responsible for bringing time travel perhaps a step closer?
I don’t know that I’ve brought time travel a step closer. If anyone has it’s Kip Thorne. But maybe the joint effort of all those involved in this debate has at least increased the respectability of serious consideration of the possibility of time travel. As a youngster who was fascinated by the possibility of time travel in the science-fiction novels of H.G. Wells, Robert Heinlein, and others, to be in any way involved in the possible actualization of time travel—well, it just brings goose bumps. Of course we’re not really at that stage; we don’t know that time travel is even possible, and if it is, we certainly haven’t developed the time machine. But it’s a stunning fact that we have now reached a stage in our understanding of nature where this is even a bare possibility.

You can read the whole interview Carl Sagan did with NOVA here:

Carl Sagan mentions Kip Thorne, who was one of the very first people to come up with the idea of using wormholes as a method of time travel. He’s also helped developed to concept for Interstellar, which, I’m hoping to see later this weekend! Here’s a really cool interview with Kip Thorne and the science behind Interstellar. It’s totally worth taking a look at!

I hope to be updating this blog more consistently from now on! The past couple of weeks after the Kickstarter campaign have been very busy as we organize footage, figure out logistics and get ready for the next phase of the documentary.

Thanks again, and as always, I would love to hear your thoughts!