It's a familiar argument by now, but it's worth repeating: Space travel and the research it enables are more important than ever. The same basic reasons why it's important aren't terribly different than they were when we landed on the moon, but the scientific questions we hope to answer are certainly more advanced. Even chasing the almost impossible question of traveling through a worm hole or back in time—feats that most theoretical physicists think are unlikely—help us better understand the forces of nature. "
contributes to physics in a major way," Thorne said. "It's unlikely but the bottom line is that the answer's not in." He added, "The very process of trying to sort out whether it would be possible to have a worm hole or go back in time rubs our nose deeply in the laws of physics."
In the same breath, Thorne praised people like Elon Musk—he named Musk specifically—for pushing this scientific exploration forward with private space travel ventures. And despite Virgin Galactic's failed promises, Richard Branson surely deserves credit for being a pioneer in this arena as well. Now that we live in an era where many people question the value of space exploration, we need more people to remind us that it benefits all mankind to work on problems that won't be solved in this lifetime, or even this millennium.
Thorne, a scientist who's been doing just that for decades, could not have been more enthusiastic about that point. Time travel is a hard problem, but it's a problem worth trying to solve—even if we know we'll probably fail for the foreseeable future. Interstellar travel is in the same column.
More via Why We Should Keep Trying to Time Travel.
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