Science fiction has a way of capturing our imaginations through its depiction of future technology. From lightsabers to time machines, the possibilities appear endless. But how possible are these technologies really? In this blog we will look at the plausibility of several technologies from popular sci-fi movies and separate the fact from the fiction.




Hoverboards have been popular in pop culture for decades with the most iconic example of course being seen used by Marty McFly, the protagonist of the film Back to the Future 2. In this movie the hovercraft is essentially a flying skateboard. Although it seems there aren’t any totally viable hoverboards available for purchase today, progress has been made in developing such technology. 


The main way modern attempts at hovercrafts work is by using the properties of superconductors. These are materials that have zero electrical resistance and expel magnetic fields due to a phenomenon known as the Meissner effect. Due to this effect if a superconductor is placed on top of a magnet it will start to levitate.


The downside of this method is that superconductors need to be supercooled in order for them to display their superconductive properties. This would mean that in order to operate a hovercraft for any significant amount of time a coolant such as liquid nitrogen would be necessary to maintain the required temperature and therefore, unfortunately, the hovercraft is not currently possible.




Lightsabers are a symbol of the world-famous Star Wars franchise. They are deadly blades of energy wielded by jedi and sith that are seemingly able to cut through any substance. Is  there any way such weapons could become reality?


Unfortunately the answer to this question is a resounding no. The concept of a lightsaber looks to violate several laws of physics. Lightsabers appear to be massless and yet are able to cut through all material with ease, violating the conservation of energy. Even if  the conservation of energy wasn’t violated, such energy would probably melt the hilt of the blade or seriously injure the user and a large power bank would be necessary to generate the required energy.


The closest attempt we have to lightsabers currently available are in the form of plasma cutters. These are tools use utilise high temperature ionised gases to cut through metals

Though these tools are a far cry from the blades seen in the films they are sadly as close as to the actual thing we will likely see. 




A hyperdrive is an engine that allows for faster than light travel allowing characters to traverse galaxies in a matter of moments. We see examples of hyperdrives being used in the spaceships in Star Wars or Futurama but will faster than light travel ever be possible?


Again unfortunately the answer is no. According to our current understanding of the laws of physics, as developed in special relativity by Albert Einstein, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. As an object approaches the speed of light, its mass increases meaning 

an infinite amount of energy would be necessary to cause an object to reach such speeds.


There are however some suggestions being made by scientists that faster than light travel may be possible but instead of coming in the form of hyperdrives it may come in the form of wormholes. Wormholes arise as a result of being a solution to Einstein’s theory of general relativity. They may allow for a traveller to travel from point A to point B nearly instantaneously. 


Another suggested alternative is the Alcubierre drive. This also uses concepts from general relativity. It would work by stretching space-time in a wave which would theoretically mean that the space in front of the wave to contract and the space behind the wave to expand. A ship could be placed inside this wave and essentially surf the area known as a warp bubble. 


Despite the theoretical possibilities, faster than light travel is simply that, theoretical. The energy required to create a wormhole or Alcubierre drive would be enormous and we have no known way of actually achieving either feat.




Overall the plausibility of these futuristic technologies varies. Some of them such as the lightsaber may never be possible due to the limitations of physics, however technologies such as hoverboards or faster than light travel may eventually be realised with more development and more research is needed in these areas. While some of the tech seen in science fiction may never be physically possible, we can take comfort in the fact that the ideas presented in media have inspired innovation and creativity in the real world

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