A wormhole is a term used to describe a physics concept that describes a shortcut between two points in spacetime. It is an intriguing idea posed by Albert Einstein’s equations and expanded by scientists such as Schwartzchild and contemporary physicists. Wormholes pose some interesting questions about movement through spacetime and whether we could utilize these “shortcuts” for practical purposes.
What Are Wormholes?
A wormhole is a tunnel-like connection in spacetime. The wormhole has a “mouth” or opening that continues to another “mouth” at a distant point within the spacetime continuum, making it a shortcut between locations in normal space. The concept of the wormhole originates from equations in Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Are Wormholes Real?
So far, wormholes remain a theoretical concept suggested by mathematics. They have not been observed nor created in real life. However, the mathematical evidence of their existence is so common that scientists expect that someone will observe them in some fashion in the future. The major problem with finding physical evidence of wormholes is in their instability. Wormholes would close up before anyone could travel in them. Holding them open would require matter with negative energy density and large negative pressure. This type of negative energy is called “exotic matter,” and it, too, only exists in theory at this time.
Wormholes and Time Travel
The most exciting aspect of wormholes is that they suggest the ability to travel back in time. Of course, this ability would lead to many conundrums, such as changing the course of history with small actions, or the “grandfather” dilemma, that would wipe out the possibility of your existence if you went back in time and caused the death of your grandfather before your father was born. However, scientist Steven Hawking believes that introducing even the tiniest particle into the wormhole would cause it to destabilize it and collapse, making any discussion of using the wormholes for time travel moot. Though small amounts of negative energy can be produced in the laboratory, called the Casimir effect, it will be a long time, if ever, before scientists can successfully use it to hold open wormholes.
Other Theories Regarding Wormholes
Though wormholes have not yet been observed in reality, they lend themselves to an enormous amount of scientific computation and conjecture regarding the universe and its construction at the time of the Big Bang. One theory poses that the universe we know was born within a wormhole caused by the collapse of a giant star in another universe. This theory would help to explain how gravity became mixed with the other forces that control matter in our universe. It would also explain the constant and accelerating expansion of our universe as it rushes toward the interior of the wormhole.
Scientists spend their lives studying theories about wormholes and other puzzling questions about the make-up of our universe. Each step brings us closer to understanding our world both in the past and in the present.