A new study from Harvard University suggest that traveling through wormholes in space may be theoretically possible, though it may not be suitable for humans.
Wormholes have been a favorite MacGuffin in science fiction works, allowing characters to go to different points in the universe almost instantaneously. These depressions in space present an interesting concept, but they are mostly considered figments of sci-fi writers' imaginations.
Harvard researchers are determined to prove that space travel through wormholes is indeed possible. They are set to unveil their initial findings at the upcoming April Meeting of the American Physical Society.
Theories About Wormholes
Wormholes are believed to be passages through space-time that can connect one part of the universe with another. While their existence have long been predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity, none have ever been spotted so far.
Theories about wormholes first appeared in 1916. Austrian physicist Ludwig Flamm described a particular phenomenon known as a "white hole", which was the theoretical time reversal of a black hole. If black holes tended to suck in matter, then white holes ejected matter from their event horizons.
There have also been speculations that black holes have corresponding white holes at the other side of space. All the matter that get vacuumed by black holes are released by white holes into an alternative universe.
Flamm also explored the potential of having two different areas in the universe being mathematically connected using some form of a space-time conduit. Black holes would serve as entrances, and white holes would serve as exits.
Einstein studied Flamm's theories about wormholes, alongside Israeli-American physicist Nathan Rosen. This led to the creation of the Einstein-Rosen bridge, a concept wherein certain pockets in space, such as wormholes, can be used to establish a shortcut to another part of the universe.
Traveling Through Space Using Wormholes
Daniel Jafferis, a physicist from Harvard, explored the potential of journeying across the universe through wormholes. He collaborated with fellow Harvard researcher Ping Gao and colleague Aron Wall from Stanford to write his findings.
In his work, Jafferis described wormhole travel as theoretically possible. However, it may not be practical for humans to do so.
"It takes longer to get through these wormholes than to go directly, so they are not very useful for space travel," the Harvard researcher said.
While Jafferis may not sound like a big fan of pan-galactic travel, he does recognize the importance of being able to find a way to create wormholes through which light could travel. This would allow scientists to further develop a quantum gravity theory.
He said his work tackles the information problem regarding black holes, as well as the different connections between quantum mechanics and gravity.
Jafferis drew inspiration from the idea of two black holes getting entangled on a quantum level. The concept was based on the ER=EPR conjecture introduced by Lenny Susskind from Stanford and Juan Maldacena from Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study in 2013.
The new study explains that the direct links between black holes in space are shorter compared to those wormholes, which means wormhole travel may not actually be a shortcut. This theory provides researchers insights into what quantum mechanics is all about.
Jafferis said traveling through a wormhole might be equivalent to using entangled black holes for quantum teleportation.