Tech of the ‘future’ available today

October 20, 2015

Time travel, hover boards, self-lacing shoelaces are all high tech advancements that make for great movie concepts and props, but how close are we to having them?

When Marty McFly and Emmett “Doc” Brown traveled from 1985 to 2015 in “Back to the Future Part II,” 2015 had all these things for commercial use.

Well according to Dr. Thad Szabo, professor of physics and astronomy in the Physical Science and Technology Department, some of these things can actually happen.

Unfortunately, not as easy or as slick as it appeared in the film.

Sorry Einstein, looks like you won’t be able to time travel in the Delorean.

But, if Einstein and the gang just so happen to get near a black hole, where there is large amounts of gravity, then they may just have a shot as to moving forward, not back.

Szabo said, “‘Interstellar’ did [time travel] a lot better actually, if you are near a strong gravitational source time will slow down for you, but it will continue to pass at the same rate for everybody else.”

He is talking about black holes, giant masses in space that are heavy in gravitational pull, however, this gravitational pull can rip apart a vessel and person, to shreds.

Even if we developed a ship to withstand that amount of pressure, Szabo said the ship or vessel will need enormous amounts of energy to escape the pull of the black hole.

He said, “The stronger the gravitational force, the more the effect is its a relativistic affect. Double check quote.

“So if you get near a black hole, and you don’t get ripped into shreds, time will pass more slowly for you […] so what you will see is like a week going by everybody else will see is like a month going by.”

Marty McFly could have made it to the future on October 21, 2015, but he could never get back home, maybe he’s among us riding on a two-wheeled Segway, like all those Viners.

Which brings up the next point, the hover board helped McFly escape Griff Tannen and his goons in 2015.

Can we have one pretty please?

Well the closest we’ll get now is the aforementioned two-wheeled Segways, or “hover boards,” because Szabo broke down some theories behind the idea, and it just can’t be commercialized yet.

Lexus released a prototype in this EDM-tuned promotional video.

He said, “[Lexus] is using super conductivity, we played with this a little bit, I worked at the National High Magnetic Field Lab when I was in Florida state, and a lot of what we were looking for was super conductivity.”

The idea of super conductivity is if you get something cold enough, all electric resistance disappears.

So electrons can travel through something and they will never stop, according to Szabo, the idea would be great for electrical plants, so energy could travel without loss of energy output.

He said, “The problem is, you need things like helium, the usual temperature of liquid helium is -269 degrees celcius [-452.2 degrees farenheit] you can do it with liquid nitrogen, that’s about -190 degrees celcius [-310 farenheit] […] the problem is the stuff that uses liquid nitrogen is brittle, you can’t make wires out of it, but you can make a hover board.

“If you make a slab of this stiff, and so now if you have the stuff cooled down to liquid nitrogen temperatures, aside from the fact that it won’t have any electrical resistance, if you put a magnetic field in there, the magnetic field will stay in there forever.”

The hover board would then work on magnets, only if temperatures can stay at -190 degrees celcius, [-130 farenheit.]

Very similar to Japanese bullet trains, liquid nitrogen under the train keep the magnets cool, so it can hover above the magnetic rail.

But keeping cool is going to take a lot more than Pepsi and shiny retro glasses for McFly, energy trying to flow into the board from the environment will begin to heat up the liquid nitrogen, making it useless.

So the shopping list for the hover board provided by the doc, Dr. Szabo that is, would be:

  • One gallon of liquid nitrogen: costs no more than a gallon of milk
  • Copper, or a metal you can shape
  • Helium: about $75 per gallon
  • Fun

“Prohibitory expensive,” Szabo said.

Self-tying shoe laces are probably the most realistic according to Szabo.

“As we develop nano materials and nano robots you can have material one, that remembers its shape and for material two, you can build nano robots along a fiber and have them manipulate the fiber to tie itself,” he said.

Most of this technology is either a plausible theory, or industrial-sized, but as more items get reduced to fit into normal every day people’s lives, then is it all worth it?

Paulina Alvarez, liberal arts major, said, “I see it more as a luxury, something to have for fun I really hope not to see everyone, personally, with a hover board one day, but I do agree with it, it’s a cool item just not to take over walking.”

Looking at 1985 and looking a 2015, it’s no secret that we’ve advanced at least in some areas Doc Brown would be proud of.

About the Writer
Photo of Sebastian Echeverry
Sebastian Echeverry, Editor in Chief
Hello all, my name is Sebastian Echeverry and I am the Editor-in-Chief for the fall 2015 semester. I have been working for the newspaper for four semesters now and slowly climbed the ranks from staff writer, to assistant sports editor, to sports editor, news/managing editor and finally the big cheese. My interest in journalism began when the twin towers fell on September 11 and the U.S. invaded Iraq. Global news coverage of airstrikes in Baghdad plagued the media and my father who served in the Colombian military would sit with me and explain what was going on to me. I was only eight years old at the time, so putting politics aside, I was only interested in how reporters on the front lines were seeing history unfold in front of them. Since then, I enjoyed reading and writing especially about global news. My first taste of research was for a high school paper about the militias still active in the U.S. I remember sipping some brew outside on the Coffee Bean's patio and being swallowed up by data, and liking it. I Currently have a part time job at Calvin Klein, my favorite sport is soccer and I love, Barcelona, Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund. I also enjoy watching hockey and my favorite team there is the Detroit Red Wings, yeah weird I know.

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