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Beam Me Up, Einstein

December 18, 2005|VICTORIA NAMKUNG

It has been a century since Albert Einstein's miracle year, when he published his first, or special, theory of relativity calling into question all previously established theoretical physics. To celebrate the anniversary, the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles arranged a special panel titled "Einstein on Warp Speed: Science in Science Fiction" to explore the feasibility of sci-fi concepts such as warp speed, time travel, aliens and beaming. We caught up with the panelists to get their thoughts on the universe.

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Andre Bormanis

Los Angeles

What's your specialty?

I was a writer and producer on the CBS series "Threshold," and I was a science expert, writer and producer on "Star Trek."

Is the science in science fiction possible?

The dream always precedes the reality. People talked about sending rockets to the moon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. That technology became a reality.

Shows like "Star Trek" keep people dreaming.

What's the silliest fictional science?

The technical aspects of the movie "Armageddon." Blowing up an asteroid the size of Texas with a nuclear device is crazy.

Which is more fun: science or science fiction?

Writing allows you to delve into yourself the way science doesn't.

Einstein may be our most famous "genius." What makes a genius?

The ability to ask honest questions and never take anything for granted.

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Lawrence Krauss

Cleveland

What's your specialty?

I'm a physicist and astrophysicist

and author.

What fictional science is least possible?

Unfortunately, we're not going to be going around the galaxy in starships anytime soon.

What's the silliest science in science fiction?

Every time there's an explosion in "Star Trek," there's a "boom." But the aliens were right: No one can hear you scream in space.

Best science in a science

fiction work?

I like episodes involving time travel because the notion is fascinating.

Which is more fun: science or science fiction?

Science. The universe surprises us with things that no science fiction writer could ever come up with.

What makes a genius a genius?

Luck, perseverance and being around at the right time.

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Daniel F. Curry

Bell Canyon

What's your specialty?

Visual-effects supervisor on

"Star Trek."

What's the least feasible technology in science fiction?

The amount of time it takes to

cover vast distances is ludicrous.

We [FX people] make spaceships

fly like airplanes.

What's the silliest fictional science?

A low-budget '50s movie where the monster was a guy in a gorilla suit with a rented space helmet.

What's the best fictional science?

"2001: A Space Odyssey," that sense of vastness and majesty. Great science fiction helps open minds.

Why is the centennial of Einstein's special theory of relativity a good reason for this event?

Any anniversary that celebrates a genius who opened the eyes of a species is reason.

What makes a genius a genius?

Having that spark of imagination and perseverance to exploit it.

**

Ranga Yogeshwar

Cologne, Germany

What's your specialty?

Science programming director at Westdeutscher Rundfunk Television.

What's the silliest science in science fiction?

The one where you travel light years away to somewhere that has similar-looking aliens shooting at each other [and] doing all the mistakes that we do here.

Which is more fun: science or science fiction?

Science, because it's so tied to imagination. You try to understand more about what you don't know.

Why is the centennial of Einstein's special theory of relativity a good reason for this event?

In 1905, Einstein had his breakout year and changed our concept of space, time and light.

What makes a genius a genius?

Einstein was able to open up new areas and worlds with his brain. If he had taken an IQ test, perhaps he wouldn't be No. 1, but he pursued his vision.

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