Story: After chasing down a fallen spacecraft on the California coast, pilot Hal Jordan discovers a ring that grants him extraordinary powers. In accepting it, Jordan becomes the first human to serve as a Green Lantern, a guardian that protects the universe from evil--in this case, the mad scientist Dr. Hector Hammond.
Science Fiction: The ring takes its orders from Jordan’s mind, enabling him to fly, knock multiple bad guys off their feet, and even create wormholes through which he can travel thousands of light-years within minutes.
Science Fact: People can indeed control machines with brain signals. Johns Hopkins University scientists are conducting clinical trials for the Modular Prosthetic Limb, a robotic arm operated by the user’s thoughts. But the ring’s ability to generate shortcuts across the universe raises more questions. “Wormholes are possible in principle,” says physicist Eric Davis of the Institute of Advanced Studies, a think tank in Austin, Texas, but creating them takes a tremendous amount of negative energy. It would take the mass equivalent of –71 percent of Jupiter to create a wormhole suitable for travel. Producer Donald De Line explains that a Green Lantern’s ring derives its energy from a battery on the alien planet Oa. “The battery stores the collected willpower from around the universe,” he says.
Note to NASA: Find Oa, solve energy crisis.