Well no, it's actually a close-up (macro) of a coupling part on an early model spacecraft.

By: Nick Gambino

Good news: scientists have invented a real-life flux capacitor like the one seen in the greatest Sci-Fi movie ever made – Back to the Future. Bad news: it won’t help you travel back in time 30 years to avoid the incestual advances of your much younger mother. On second thought, maybe this is good news.

Scientists from Switzerland and Australia proposed the concept of the flux capacitor in Physical Review Letters as noted by Engadget. The device consists of magnetic flux quantum tunneling around a capacitor. Like you, I have very little idea what that means, but I will try to sort this out for both our sakes.

In their research they propose two versions of the capacitor. One that doesn’t matter to us and then one that does. “We propose two different possible circuits, one of which resembles the iconic three-pointed-star design of the cinematic flux capacitor,” one of the scientists, Professor Cole, states. In other words, that iconic 80s flick is influencing actual science in the real world.

Beyond the design mirroring the popular device that in the words of Doc Brown, “makes time travel possible,” it isn’t looking to bend the fabric of time to allow you to go back or forward. Instead the application could be used in quantum computing to allow for the easier and more precise passage of signals.

“In it, quantum ‘tubes’ of magnetic flux can move around a central capacitor by a process known as quantum tunneling, where they overcome classically insurmountable obstacles,” Professor Cole explains. They go on to equate the direction of the signal to that of cars in a roundabout. Seemingly this would clean up signal traffic and allow for the isolation of various activities.

Though you won’t be time traveling in a retro DeLorean with the use of this newly conceived flux capacitor, there are some potential applications that should make things a bit easier for you. This tech could be used to significantly improve radar, WiFi and mobile antennas.

So, no financial windfall using a Sports Almanac that accurately details the outcome of the next 60 years of sporting events, but you’ll be able to watch Stranger Things without buffering or losing HD quality. You have to appreciate the little things.


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.