In the new Disney Pixar film Bright Year, time bends; Is time travel real or just science fiction?

At the start of the new Disney Pixar film Lightyear, Buzz Lightyear finds himself stranded on a dangerous distant planet with his commander and crew.

Their only hope of getting off the planet is to test the special fuel. To do this, Buzz must fly into space and repeatedly attempt to jump at hyperspeed. But every attempt he makes comes at a terrible cost.

Each time Buzz goes on a four-minute test flight into space, he returns to the planet to find that many years have passed. The people Buzz cares about most fall in love, have children and even grandchildren. Time becomes his biggest enemy.

What’s the matter? Is this just science fiction, or could what happened to Buzz actually happen? Time is relative: Einstein’s great idea. Buzz experiences a real-life phenomenon known as time dilation. Time dilation is a prediction of one of the most famous scientific theories ever developed: Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Before the advent of relativity, the best theory of motion we had was the mechanics of Isaac Newton.

Newton’s theory was incredibly powerful, making stunning predictions about the motions of the planets in our solar system.

In Newton’s theory, time is like a single giant clock that counts seconds in the same way for everyone. No matter where you are in the universe, the master clock will show the same time.

Einstein’s theory of relativity broke the master clock into many clocks—one for each person and one moving object. In Einstein’s view of the universe, everyone carries their own watch with them.

One consequence of this is that there is no guarantee that the clocks will tick at the same rate. In fact, many clocks will tick at different rates.

Worse, the faster you travel relative to someone else, the slower your clock will go compared to theirs.

This means that if you’re traveling very fast in a spaceship, like Buzz does, it might take minutes for you, but for someone on the planet you’ve left, it could take years.

Time Travel Forward, Not Back In a sense, time dilation can be thought of as a kind of time travel. This gives you the opportunity to jump into someone else’s future.

Unfortunately, there is no way to use time dilation to travel back in time to the past (as one important character says later in the film).

It is also impossible to use time dilation to travel to your own future.

This means that there is no known way for you to travel to the future and meet your elder self by simply moving very fast.

Time Travelers Above Earth Right Now Time dilation may seem like science fiction, but it’s actually a measurable phenomenon. Indeed, scientists have conducted a number of experiments to confirm that clocks tick at different rates depending on how they are moving.

For example, astronauts on the International Space Station travel at very high speeds compared to their friends and family on Earth. (You can watch the space station fly overhead if you know when to look up.) That means…


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