WASHINGTON, September 28, 2012 — Looper is not an action film. It’s not a sci-fi film. It’s a film with heart. A story, grounded in sci-fi, that makes you think and feel.
Rian Johnson, who also directed Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the 2005 indie hit Brick, creates a future that is grounded in reality. Unlike other films in this genre, the alternate reality seems plausible. That attention to detail is not surprising from Johnson. His films and Breaking Bad episodes he has directed have always had depth.
Gordon-Levitt, transformed to look like a younger Bruce Willis, gives the best performance of his career. It’s not easy to transition from the kid in Angiels in the Outfield to an action star but he does it. Emily Blunt, the British actress best known for her role in The Devil Wears Prada, also plays a convincing American Midwestern farm girl. Bruce Willis is his typical bad-ass self and that’s exactly what the film needs.
After a Summer of mostly average movies, the movie-going public is looking for another Inception - a movie that leaves them thinking far after they walk out of the theatre. Looper does that. You wind up thinking about the characters and time travel, in that order.
I spent all night contemplating what the future would look like if time travel was real. Dr. Ronald Mallett, Professor of Physics at The University of Connecticut, is working to make that possible. I asked him to explain how possible it is and what it will take to make fiction a reality.
1. Is time travel possible? How close are we to that being a reality?
Time travel to the future and past is possible based on Einstein’s theories of relativity. Current experiments have shown that time travel to the future can be achieved and recent theoretical work has demonstrated the possibility of time travel to the past.
2. Explain the science behind time travel and what fascinates you about it?
The science of time travel is anchored in Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity. In a nutshell special theory of relativity is about how time is affected by speed. Einstein developed a theoretical mathematical model showing that time for a moving clock slows down. This is been demonstrated experimentally in particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Subatomic particles which normally live for only fractions of a second increase their lifespan by 10 or 20 times as their speed is increased near the speed of light. In effect this means that these particles are traveling into the future. Experiments with atomic clocks on passenger jets also show that time also slows down the faster an object moves.
Time travel to the past is possible via Einstein’s general theory of relativity which says in effect that gravity affects time. According to Einstein’s general theory the stronger gravity is the more time will slow down. This has been experimentally demonstrated by comparing clocks at the surface of the earth clocks with clocks on board satellites. It has been observed that clocks at the surface of the earth were gravity is stronger are running slower than clocks on board satellites in space. It turns out that Einstein’s general theory of relativity allows for the possibility of time being closed into a loop. One can think of time as normally flowing along a straight line from the past to the future. In Einstein’s general theory of relativity it’s possible that the straight line of time can be twisted into a loop which would allow for the possibility of going from the past to the present to the future and back to the past.
My interest in time travel is due to a personal tragedy which occurred when I was 10 years old. I was the oldest of four children. My father Boyd Mallett was a television repairman the Bronx who suddenly died of a massive heart attack when he was only 33 years old. He was the center of my universe and I was devastated. Fortunately one of the gifts he left me was a love for reading and I loved reading science fiction. About a year after his death when I was 11 I came across HG Wells’ classic “The Time Machine.” This turned my life around. I now have a dream and goal of building a time machine to travel to the past to see my father again and perhaps save his life. A couple of years afterwards I came cross a popular book about Einstein. The book was called “The Universe and Dr. Einstein.” In the book it was stated that Einstein said that time was not fixed but could be altered. For me this meant that time travel was in fact possible. This eventually led me on my scientific journey to learn about Einstein and try to figure out to build a time machine. I’ve written a popular book about this journey and about Einstein’s theories. The book is entitled “Time Traveler: A Scientist’s Personal Journey to Make Time Travel a Reality.”
3. I understand you are building your own time machine. When will it be completed? Or has it already been completed and we are now talking in the future?
I should point out that there is a division of labor in physics between theoretical and experimental physics. For example, Einstein was a theoretical physicist who developed the basic equations of relativity such as E=mc2. He did not build nuclear reactors or atomic bombs. That work was developed by engineers and experimental physicists. These developments required significant financial support. Likewise I am a theoretical physicist and I developed the basic equations of the possibility of time travel based on the possibility of using the gravitational field of light to manipulate time. The experimental confirmation of this work will depend on the efforts of experimental physicists and significant financial support. Information about the project can be found in my book “Time Traveler” and on my University of Connecticut homepage
Jeff Barrett is a recognized leader in public relations, experiential marketing and social media. Co-Founder of Status Creative, 2011 PRNewswire Award Winner for “Best Use of Video In Social Media” and record holder for Most Strikeouts in Tee-Ball.
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