Human-Safe Wormholes Could Exist in the Real World, Study Finds

Human-Safe Wormholes Could Exist in the Real World, Study Finds

Sci-fi writers have long leaned on the wormhole as an important plot device. It’s a rapid way of transporting characters across vast distances in spacetime in a couple of seconds.

For decades, theorists such as Albert Einstein and Kip Thorne have pondered the existence of these spacetime portals, but no one has been able to give physical evidence of their existence. Perhaps until now.

Two new studies published in the journals Physical Review Letters and Physical Review D suggest that wormholes safe enough for people to travel through may exist in the real world after all.

One of the fundamental arguments to the existence of wormholes is that the portal’s narrowest part, or neck, would most likely collapse under the weight of its own gravity. Some theorists say one way to sidestep this issue and prevent gravitational collapse would be to fill the wormhole with an exotic form of matter that has negative mass. But this solution isn’t a cosmological silver bullet—such a form of matter is purely theoretical.

An international team of researchers led by Jose Blázquez-Salcedo of the Complutense University of Madrid offered an alternative method to prevent the collapse of a fragile wormhole’s neck in the first paper published that does not require exotic matter to keep the wormhole propped open.

To harness the power of elementary particles, their theoretical models, which consider the possibility of microscopic wormholes, relies on three theories: relativity theory, quantum theory, and electrodynamics.

These researchers think that adjusting the mass and charge of elementary particles fundamental building blocks of matter—could keep the cosmic throughway open. This would only work if the overall charge of the fermions to the mass of everything inside the wormhole was greater than the practical limit given by black holes.

But there’s a catch: Blázquez-Salcedo and his colleagues are talking microscopic wormholes. They’re not exactly traversable by humans, but this is certainly one small step in a new theoretical direction.

The second research, by Juan Maldacena of the Institute for Advanced Study in New Jersey and Alexey Milekhin of Princeton University, does, however, investigate the potential existence of wormholes wide enough for spacetime-surfing humans to travel through.

In this case, Maldacena and Milekhin created the Randall-Sundrum model, which is a wormhole that forms in five-dimensional spacetime. According to the authors, these wormholes would appear to an untrained observer as intermediate-mass black holes.

If you hopped in this kind of wormhole, you’d experience up to 20 g of acceleration—an uncomfortable, albeit survivable amount. However, the authors agree that this hypothesis has certain practical limitations. For example, the wormhole must be incredibly clean, free of errant particles:

“If particles that fall into the wormhole scatter and lose energy then they would accumulate inside, contributing some positive energy that would eventually make the wormhole collapse back into a black hole.”

Anyone going through space does not want to end up in the center of a black hole. (Or is it?) They must also be extremely cold, according to the researchers. Then there’s the small concern of creating the wormhole in the first place. Maldacena and Milekhin are still figuring out how to build one.

What’s the good news? In principle, your cross-galaxy journey would take less than a second. However, if your family and friends are following your journey from outside the wormhole, they will have to wait a long time for it to conclude. From their point of view, your journey would last tens of thousands of years.

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