What Interstellar Means for the Future of Space Travel

Gargantua (Interstellar)
Can you see the spaceship?

If you read my review of Interstellar, then you already know that I had seen the movie. If you hadn’t, then guess what? I saw Interstellar. And that whole movie got me thinking: where is space travel going? I mean, we’ve put men on the Moon, but we as human beings haven’t gone much farther, if you don’t count our robot creations. Now, I’m a pretty huge fan of SF literature, hard (super-sciencey) or otherwise. Interstellar definitely fell within the hard category, and showcased some pretty impressive science fact. It even got a commendation from Neil DeGrasse Tyson! But I still haven’t answered my original question: Where are we going?

Short answer: nowhere. Humans themselves haven’t gone anywhere really cool since 1969, and even though the astronauts on the Apollo 13 mission were pretty impressive, it was still a massive failure. Humans today seem perfectly content with reading and watching space travel than actually partaking in it themselves. But really, that’s not a good thing. Our planet is being polluted beyond belief, natural resources are running low, and rising sea levels and erratic climate spikes are jut the first signs that Earth is telling us to get our act straight, or get out of here.

But in all honestly, there’s no way that we’re ever “getting out of here”. Sure, Earth-like planets have been discovered, but they are literal dozens of lifetimes away. With the rapidly declining fossil fuels, we can’t launch many more rockets, so we either have to find another way to power our space-arks, or just clean up the Earth and admit that we have to stay. Ultimately, we may have to face the fact that our Moon may be the farthest we actually will ever get under our own power.

Mann's Planet (Interstellar)
Even the robots are extremely practical. I think it’s possible you could see that thing in the future.

Robots may be able to make their way across the galaxy, as they require no food, water, or sleep. They are essentially ageless, so a self sustaining colony of them could make a very nice alternative to humans being the space pioneers of our own works of fiction. But seriously, can we trust those tin cans? Or have I just read 2001 too many times? In all seriousness though, robots would make very good explorers. The only problem is, our mechanical brethren are no where near the level of intelligence and advancement that would be needed to traverse the cosmos.

Let’s take a look at Interstellar. In the movie, NASA uses a wormhole that was placed around Saturn by an alien intelligence (of which they know nothing about) to slingshot themselves across the galaxy, and into a new one. Sure, these sketchy shortcuts through spacetime may be only currently used in science fiction, but they stand to me as one of the only plausible ways of interstellar travel. Think about it. As opposed to wasting all of the lives, time, and fuel that would be spent getting from one point to the other in the galaxy, we could just hop into a wormhole and fold space in over itself, appearing on the other side.

Into the Wormhole (Interstellar)
The Endurance enters the wormhole

Yes, this is all theoretical, and no one has ever actually seen a wormhole. The real trouble, in this case, would be proving the actual existence of the wormholes, and then making sure that they’re safe before hopping into one for a cosmic joyride. Still, it seems to me that wormholes may be our last hope of traveling through the stars. Even so, whatever way we wish to traverse the final frontier, I don’t think it’ll be as final as we all assume.


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