We can build a real, traversable wormhole … if the universe has extra dimensions - Beyond The World

We can build a real, traversable wormhole … if the universe has extra dimensions

A team of physicists has discovered that it may be possible to create a real, traversable wormhole, but only if our universe contains extra dimensions.

To create a wormhole, you must glue together distinct sections of the cosmos by linking them with a bridge or tunnel known as a “throat.” This throat can be as long or as short as you desire, but it should be shorter than the regular distance to your destination. Making a wormhole is simple in Einstein’s theory of general relativity: Simply construct a black hole and connect it to a white hole (the polar opposite of a black hole), and boom, there you have it: a tunnel through space-time.

Unfortunately, the most serious issue with wormholes is that they are extremely unstable. Their huge gravitational forces (they are actually formed of black holes, after all) rip them apart faster than the speed of light as soon as they develop, rendering them fairly useless as genuine shortcuts through the cosmos.

The only known method for stabilizing a wormhole is to use exotic stuff. Exotic matter can take the form of matter with negative mass, which does not appear to exist in the universe, or any other scenario that violates what are known as general relativity’s energy conditions. The energy conditions simply suggest that everyone should, on average, feel positive energy pretty much everywhere they go. However, in order to stabilize a wormhole, a traveler must pass through a zone of negative energy. This negative energy would counterbalance the positive energy of the traveler’s mass, keeping the wormhole open as they travelled through it.

Some physical scenarios result in violations of some of the energy conditions from time to time. However, physicists are unaware of a single occurrence in which all of the energy criteria are violated on average over long periods of time – exactly what is required to form a wormhole.

Your “brane” on physics

Gravity is an exceedingly weak force, billions upon billions of times weaker than any other natural force. Many physicists are troubled by this fact, because when something is so obviously distinct from the rest of the cosmos, there is generally some fascinating physical reason behind it.

However, scientists do not have a physical explanation for why gravity is so weak. Theoretical physicists believe that there is more to the universe than meets the eye. Some theories argue that there are other spatial dimensions to reality, in addition to the normal three, inspired by string theory’s concept of numerous extra spatial dimensions all coiled up on themselves and compacted to submicroscopic scales.

According to these beliefs, our three dimensions are nothing more than a “brane,” a relatively thin membrane that lies within a higher-dimensional “bulk.” Those extra dimensions aren’t necessarily large; if they were, we would have seen particles or planets emerging and departing from them. However, the new dimensions could be much greater than the microscopic dimensions of string theory, possibly as large as a millimeter.

In this scenario, all of nature’s forces and particles are limited to the three-dimensional brane, with gravity having the exclusive right to pass through the bulk. Thus, gravity may be as powerful as any other force, but it is so extensively diluted throughout all the extra dimensions that it appears weak to our three-dimensional experience.

Through the wormhole

Because these brane-based ideas are attempts to comprehend gravity, they open up new avenues for investigation into the nature of wormholes. Our understanding of wormholes is governed by general relativity, but the presence of extra dimensions may affect how general relativity operates, allowing wormholes to exist, according to an Indian research team in a recent report released to the preprint database arXiv.

The scientists investigated whether it was possible to construct a wormhole in the “braneworld” concept first presented by physicists Lisa Randall and Raman Sundrum in 1999.

The authors of the new research discovered that with this brane-based gravity model, they could indeed construct a stable, traversable wormhole. Even better, they didn’t have to use any unusual material to do it.

Although the scientists discovered that this circumstance still violated the general relativity energy constraints, they claimed that this violation was a feature, not a flaw. Instead of requiring some strange and exotic (and most likely impossible) element to construct a wormhole, the nature of gravity in the extra spatial dimensions naturally resulted in a violation of the energy criteria. They claimed that once those conditions were broken, wormholes were a natural result.

The researchers also speculated that if we were to directly observe or build a wormhole, it would show that the cosmos had more spatial dimensions than the standard three.

This is not the final word on wormhole theory, as it is with all theoretical studies on the subject. Nobody knows for certain whether the Randall-Sundrum theory, or any other theory based on branes and extra dimensions, is right. Nobody has a quantum theory of gravity – a theory of strong gravity at small scales — which would almost likely affect the calculations, possibly to the point of removing the possibility of wormholes entirely.

However, this conclusion is still intriguing because it joins a number of studies to push the boundaries of our understanding of gravity, pushing general relativity to its ultimate limits. Wormholes may or may not exist, but striving to understand them will undoubtedly expand our understanding of the cosmos.

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