Wormholes would not be shortcuts, on the contrary
– News of April 30, 2019 –
In 1915, Albert Einstein presented his theory of general relativity, a revolutionary description of gravitation. A few weeks later, he received two letters from another German physicist Karl Schwarzschild. These letters contained the first exact solution to the equations of general relativity. Although he was impressed by Karl Schwarzschild’s solution, Albert Einstein did not immediately understand all of its implications. Karl Schwarzschild’s solution makes predictions difficult to believe, gravitational singularities from which nothing can escape. These are the black holes. There are now evidence that black holes exist, but general relativity allows for even more incredible predictions.
In 1916, Ludwig Flamm realized that it is theoretically possible to connect two distant points through space and time. This possibility was rediscovered by Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen in 1935. This phenomenon is now called wormholes. Nothing proves their existence outside mathematics, but wormholes fascinate physicists and science fiction writers. Theoretical research on wormholes was very popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1988, a team led by Kip Thorne described a stable and traversable macroscopic wormhole compatible with general relativity. This door would allow travel through space and time. Since that time, research on wormholes has calmed down much, but from time to time an article revives the subject.
In mid-April, a US team released a study on wormholes. It reaffirms that their existence is possible or at least not impossible. According to Daniel Jafferis, traveling with wormholes would take longer than a normal trip. These would not be shortcuts. Sci-fi fans may be disappointed by this study, but not physicists. The theoretical work around wormholes could create a new connection between general relativity and quantum mechanics.
The unification of these two theoretical frameworks is one of the greatest quests of modern physics. For example, the ER = EPR conjecture formulated in 2013 aims to elucidate the phenomenon of quantum entanglement by imagining that two entangled particles are connected to each other by a wormhole. For the moment this is only a very daring hypothesis, but it illustrates how some physicists hope to exploit the wormholes for the benefit of theoretical physics.
Other researchers believe that wormholes could provide an answer to the paradox of information posed by black holes and Hawking radiation. Even if they are not able to make us travel physically at a phenomenal speed, wormholes still have a lot of interest for research and could provide answers to some mysteries of physics.
Image by M. A. Garlick/Wikipedia Creative Commons