Lost in Space begins with a bang. Literally. Netflix’s reboot of the 1960s TV show debuted in April and it opens with the Robinson family onboard a spaceship headed to a new colony when their ship is attacked. It spirals off course, and one second they’re bracing for a crash, the next they’re inexplicably somewhere else on a mysterious far-flung planet.
The show never totally explains what happened, but the visuals suggest that the ship got sucked through a wormhole, instantly dropping it off on the other side of the universe. That’s how wormholes work, right?
Well, not exactly, though the science behind Lost in Space isn’t totally wrong either. As Inverse explained back in 2016, wormholes are a theoretical explanation for how interstellar travel could work:
Wormholes are basically a spacetime feature that connects two separate points. Those points could be lightyears apart or just a few feet from one-another; they could exist in different universes, or even in different points in time. Regardless, a wormhole connects them. Think of it as a tunnel that basically runs between two places and physically shortens the distance needed to travel between them — be it a physical distance or time itself.
For now, however, wormholes are just a theory, but according to astrophysicist Kip Thorne, a leading expert on the subject, even if wormholes did exist, it would be virtually impossible for the events of Lost in Space to actually happen.
“The jury is not in, so we just don’t know,” Thorne told Space.com. “But there are very strong indications that wormholes that a human could travel through are forbidden by the laws of physics. That’s sad, that’s unfortunate, but that’s the direction in which things are pointing.”
In a 2016 paper detailing his work on the film Interstellar, Thorne also explains that “there is no known mechanism for making wormholes” and notes that if we somehow did find one it would close too quickly for anyone to pass through to the other side.
So there you have it. Are wormholes possible? Yes. Could humans use one to travel instantaneously across the universe, either intentionally or by accident? Probably not, at least until we make some major technological advancements.
This December, Inverse is counting down the 20 best science moments in science fiction this year. This has been #20.