Thursday 20 July 2017

30% say they believe in time travel

Experts believe shows such as Doctor Who may have blurred the lines between science fiction and science fact
Experts believe shows such as Doctor Who may have blurred the lines between science fiction and science fact

The lives of nearly a third of Britons could soon be made much easier thanks to the gift of time travel - or so they believe.

A survey of 3,000 people reveals 30% of adults across the UK mistakenly believe time travel is actually possible and not confined to the realms of fictional films or television.

The research, commissioned by Birmingham Science City, suggests programmes such as Doctor Who and Ashes to Ashes may have had a hand in the blurring of lines between science fiction and science fact.

Results also show nearly half of adults (44%) wrongly believe memory-erasing technology, similar to that used in the film Men in Black, and hover boards, such as those showcased in Back to the Future, exist in reality.

The possibility of being teleported is also an option for nearly a quarter of those surveyed (24%) who wrongly think it is a real mode of transport, while 22% of people think light sabres exist not just in Star Wars but also in real life.

Other findings also reveal nearly one fifth of adults (18%) hold the incorrect view that they can see gravity.

The team of researchers, who carried out the study to celebrate National Science and Technology Week, said it is "not surprising" people sometimes get science fact and science fiction confused because of the major scientific advances being made across the world.

For example, more than three quarters (78%) of Britons believe invisibility cloaks exist only in the fictional world, and yet a team at the University of Birmingham, led by Prof Shuang Zhang, has developed a method for making objects appear invisible.

Nearly nine out of 10 people (89%) think it would be impossible to grow an extra pair of eyes, even though scientists at the University of Warwick have found this is possible in frogs and hope to be able to use the technology to explore eye development in human.

Dr Pam Waddell, director of Birmingham Science City, said: "What's clear from this research is that science captures everyone's imagination so we must continue to invest in it and strive to develop the latest 'stranger than fiction' creations."

Press Association

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