Stargate imagines a world where ancient alien technology allows people to step from one planet to another through wormholes, without the need for any ship or hyperdrive. Could such a thing be possible — theoretically — in the real world? What do scientists think real-life wormholes might be like? And what would a person need to safely traverse one?
To answer this question “Dial the Gate” host David Read called upon Mika McKinnon, not only a brilliant scientist but also for many years the Stargate franchise’s official on-set science consultant.
So … if the Stargate was real, could human beings actually survive a trip through a subspace wormhole? Or would we need to travel inside some kind of containment vessel (like … a Gate Ship)?
On Stargate “we wanted it to be a specific size,” McKinnon says of the particular kind of wormhole that the shows imagine. “And the real key trick to them is you need negative energy density in order to make them happen. And what negative energy density means is you take vacuum and then you suck more out of it. And then, surprise! You’ve got negative energy density. Scientifically it works out; mathematically it works out. Engineering problem … [it’s] a little bit of an issue!”
The real science allows for at least the possibility of people with super-advanced technology (such as the Ancients) creating an artificial wormhole, if they could manage to solve that pesky engineering problem. But what about a human or other organic being stepping through it?
The real problem is that these wormholes would have “a lot of radiation to go with them.”
Watch this short clip for more:
“You can do most things once,” she added, but due to radiation exposure “the long-term issue with traveling through Stargates too much is everyone’s life expectancy gets lower. We might have issues like in the real life space programs, [where] we actually limit how long astronauts can do flight missions because they have a lifetime radiation exposure limit.”
In the full clip McKinnon and Hewlett also explore Stargate’s version of time travel, and how the math of solar flares, gravity, and wormholes actually holds up — as well as the real dangers of sending humans out into space today.
Watch the clip above for more from Stargate science consultant Mika McKinnon, and then head over to “Dial the Gate” on YouTube for the full-length, 90-minute conversation with her and David Hewlett. You can also subscribe to GateWorld on YouTube for new Stargate content each and every week!
On Twitter: @mikamckinnon