How 'Fortnite' Rift Portals Can Be Explained With Theoretical Physics

The science surprisingly checks out.

The world of Fortnite: Battle Royale has magical building mechanics and a buff Santa Claus that wields guns and flies airplanes, but the surprisingly believable science behind the game’s rift portals actually checks out. According to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, they’re totally possible, but they’d look very different.

“This as an idea has precedent,” deGrasse Tyson told Inverse in November.

Similar holes in space-time appear throughout plenty of science fiction franchises and stories. In Fortnite, rift portals look like tight clusters of broken glass, indicating a fracture in space-time focused on a point of light. Walking through them teleports the player high into the air.

Over the course of an entire Fortnite season, rift portals also teleported objects and entire locations through time, and a huge rift in the sky transported a giant purple cube to the island. In theory, these rift portals probably access some kind of fifth dimension, allowing for instantaneous travel across time and space.

In November, Fortnite had an in-game event called “Butterfly” took the rift portal science to the extreme by bringing players to what essentially felt like the fifth dimension, and it could explain how all these rifts work.

Here's a video of the "Butterfly" event and footage from the extra dimension.

Like many physicists, Tyson assumes all of this is scientifically plausible, even if accessing the fifth dimension via some kind of wormhole is next to impossible. He’s more skeptical of the rift’s depiction in Fortnite.

“It seems to me that if there was a portal through time, it would not be in the form of a crack,” Tyson said. “It would be a spherical hole as was accurately represented in the movie Interstellar.”

Animating cracks in the fabric of reality look interesting in-game, but they’re probably not what a fifth-dimensional portal would actually look like in reality.

“Imagine a three-dimensional hole,” Tyson says. “That means you could fall in no matter which direction you approach it. That’s kinda freaky, but that’s exactly what a black hole is. It’s a three-dimensional hole. And then you can imagine attaching a wormhole to that and then you’d travel through the space-time continuum. And you would have access to other parts of time if you did that.”

So the next time you jump through a rift portal in Fortnite, think about that.

'Fortnite' Rift
'Fortnite' Rift

This December, Inverse is counting down the 20 best science moments in science fiction this year. This has been #2.

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Media via Corey Plante / Epic Games, Epic, Inverse / Epic Games, Epic Games