Wormholes are theoretical tunnels through space-time that could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe. They are predicted by the theory of general relativity and can be understood as tunnels with two ends at separate points in space-time. While wormholes have not been proven to exist, scientists continue to explore the concept as a method of space travel.

Characteristics | Values |
---|---|

Definition | A wormhole is a hypothetical structure connecting disparate points in spacetime |

Visualisation | A tunnel with two ends at separate points in spacetime |

Consistency with theory | Consistent with the general theory of relativity |

Existence | Uncertain |

Connection | Wormholes might connect extremely long distances such as a billion light-years, or short distances such as a few meters, or different points in time, or even different universes |

Stability | Wormholes are unstable and collapse quickly without some force pushing outward from inside the wormhole to counteract the force of gravity |

Size | Primordial wormholes are predicted to exist on microscopic levels, about 10â€“33 centimeters |

Speed | Traversable wormholes might allow effective superluminal (faster-than-light) travel |

Time travel | Theoretically possible, but only to a time after the wormhole was first converted into a time machine |

## What You'll Learn

**Traversable wormholes**

Wormholes can be visualized as tunnels with two ends at separate points in spacetime, connecting different locations, different points in time, or even different universes. They are described as highly curved geometries, with two "mouths" and a throat connecting them. The idea behind a wormhole is similar to digging a tunnel through a mountain to create a shortcut between two towns.

The possibility of traversable wormholes was first demonstrated in 1973 by Homer Ellis and K. A. Bronnikov. They found that wormholes could be traversable in both directions, but only if they were stabilized by exotic matter with negative energy density. Later research suggested that microscopic traversable wormholes might not require exotic matter and could be stabilized by electrically charged fermionic matter.

The existence of traversable wormholes remains hypothetical, but they continue to captivate scientists and writers alike, with the potential for interstellar, intergalactic, and even interuniversal travel.

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**The need for negative energy**

Negative energy is a theoretical concept that refers to a state of having less energy than empty space. In the context of wormholes, negative energy is necessary to stabilise them and prevent their collapse. The constant pull of gravity affects all objects in the universe, and without negative energy, a wormhole would quickly collapse under its own gravity.

The idea of negative energy was first introduced by Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen in 1935. They theorised that two black holes could be connected by a tunnel or wormhole, creating a shortcut for long journeys across the universe. However, they also realised that negative energy was required to stabilise the wormhole and prevent its collapse.

The challenge lies in achieving negative energy. While it is theoretically possible, no one knows how to obtain it. The Casimir effect, a phenomenon where negative energy exists between two parallel metal plates, provides evidence of negative energy in our universe. However, scaling up this effect to create stable wormholes remains a daunting task.

The potential for building stable, traversable wormholes relies on our understanding of quantum gravity, the intersection of quantum mechanics and general relativity. While quantum mechanics tells us how to create negative energy, we have yet to fully grasp how it fits into the puzzle of wormhole creation.

In conclusion, the need for negative energy is essential for wormhole travel as it provides the stabilisation required to counteract the gravitational forces that would otherwise cause a wormhole to collapse. While the concept of negative energy is intriguing, the practical challenges of achieving and utilising it for wormhole travel remain a puzzle for physicists to solve.

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**Quantum entanglement**

The correlation between entangled particles has been demonstrated in quantum physics experiments, and it has led to breakthroughs in fields such as cryptography and quantum computing. However, the concept of quantum entanglement is still quite esoteric and abstract.

Theoretical physicists have suggested a connection between quantum entanglement and wormhole travel. Wormholes, as predicted by the theory of general relativity, are shortcuts that connect distant regions of space and time. They are often referred to as Einstein-Rosen (ER) bridges.

In 2013, physicists Juan Maldacena and Leonard Susskind proposed that wormholes in spacetime are equivalent to quantum entanglement, a conjecture known as ER = EPR. They argued that any system of particles that are EPR-correlated are connected by some sort of ER bridge. In other words, quantum entanglement creates a geometric connection between two objects.

This equivalence could have profound implications for developing a unified theory of quantum mechanics and spacetime, also known as a theory of quantum gravity. It also suggests that spacetime itself could emerge from the entanglement of more fundamental microscopic constituents of the universe.

While the idea of using quantum entanglement for wormhole travel is still speculative, it provides an exciting avenue for further research and could potentially revolutionize our understanding of the universe.

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**The grandfather paradox**

One resolution is based on the "consistent histories" model, in which the whole spectrum of time (past, present and future) is predetermined. In this model, a person can only travel back to a point in the past if they had already been there in their own history. Therefore, they can interact with the past but cannot alter it, and the grandfather paradox cannot occur.

Another approach invokes quantum physics, which suggests that an event may have several possible outcomes with different probabilities of occurring. According to the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum theory, all these outcomes occur in different, "parallel" timelines. In this view, the grandfather paradox can be resolved if the time traveller starts in a timeline where their grandfather lived long enough to have children, and then continues along a parallel timeline after travelling back and killing their forebear. In this scenario, the time traveller would never be born in the new timeline, but their existence in the original timeline would remain unchanged.

While the grandfather paradox remains a compelling thought experiment, the practicalities of time travel are still highly speculative. Wormholes, which are often described as shortcuts between two points in space, could theoretically enable time travel. However, they have not yet been discovered, and it is unclear if they could be stabilised for safe travel.

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**Exotic matter**

Wormholes are theoretical passages through spacetime that could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe. While wormholes have been predicted by Einstein's theory of general relativity, they remain purely hypothetical.

One of the biggest challenges to the idea of wormhole travel is the problem of stability. The predicted Einstein-Rosen wormholes, for example, would quickly collapse, rendering them useless for travel. To remain open and stable, a wormhole would need to contain "exotic matter".

The addition of exotic matter to a wormhole could theoretically stabilise it to the point that human passengers could travel safely through it. However, there is a possibility that the addition of regular matter could destabilise the wormhole. Furthermore, it is unclear whether enough exotic matter can exist in one place at one time to create a wormhole large enough for human travel.

While the existence of exotic matter is highly uncertain, it remains an intriguing possibility that could revolutionise space travel and our understanding of the universe.

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**Frequently asked questions**

A wormhole is a theoretical tunnel through space-time, connecting two distant points in the universe.

Wormholes are predicted by the theory of general relativity, acting as shortcuts through space-time. They are essentially tunnels from one place in space to another, with two mouths and a throat connecting them.

Yes, under certain conditions. Wormholes can be traversable if they are held open with a form of "exotic" matter, which has negative energy or negative mass. This matter is extremely rare and has only been observed at quantum scales.

Yes, it is theoretically possible. By accelerating one mouth of a wormhole, it can be converted into a time machine, allowing travel to the past or future. However, this raises complex questions about causality and paradoxes.

No, wormhole travel remains hypothetical. While the existence of wormholes is predicted by mathematical equations, none have been discovered to date. Current technology is insufficient to create or stabilize wormholes for travel.