Some people think the biggest problem in the SF field is staying ahead of real science. So many casualties – Burroughs’ Mars, Bradbury’s Venus, Asimov’s Mercury.
If that’s true, the second biggest problem must be coping with the actual invention of stock items in the science fictional repertoire. For example, it’s harder to make up a story involving a computer now that everybody thinks he knows how they work – regardless of the likelihood that they’ll work in new ways as they become more capable and user interfaces evolve.
That’s why science fiction writers should be thanking the team of Hong Kong scientists who just showed time travel is impossible.
The possibility of real time travel was raised a decade ago by scientists who said they observed faster-than-light propagation of optical pulses in a specific medium. Here is a photo of the earlier team that claimed it observed time-travel.
Their report was later discredited as a visual effect but researchers continued to entertain the question whether a single photon might be able to exceed light speed. Now that has been ruled out:
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology research team led by Du Shengwang said they had proved that a single photon, or unit of light, “obeys the traffic law of the universe”.
“Einstein claimed that the speed of light was the traffic law of the universe or in simple language, nothing can travel faster than light,” the university said on its website.
What a relief this will be to SFWA members who’ll never have to hear someone griping that a writer’s time travel device is unrealistic because it doesn’t work like the one they have at home.
[Thanks to Janice Gelb for the link.]