It sounds like a plot from science-fiction, but traveling through wormholes may, in fact, be possible, according to new research.
At present, it doesn’t seem as if traversable wormholes should be possible – any connection between two points in time and space should instantly collapse as the walls of the tunnel that connect the two wormhole mouths should be pulled down upon itself in seconds.
The common sci-fi trope surrounding wormholes, as in Interstellar, generally involves some sort of advanced civilization finding a way to line an Einstein-Rosen Bridge with a MacGuffin of sorts that prevents the bridge from collapsing, turning the wormhole into a convenient way of teleporting across the universe.
In spite of its bizarre time-travel plot, Interstellar is actually one of the more scientifically sound movies from Christopher Nolan’s portfolio – it’s certainly more grounded in genuine physics than anything Batman does while flying across the rooftops of Gotham. It’s all very wishy-washy and doesn’t exactly make sense from a scientific perspective, but hey, sometimes you need to explain how Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey can get from one side of the universe to the other without a long stay in cryosleep.
Not everything in Interstellar is perfect, but the concept of an Einstein-Rosen Bridge (better known as a wormhole) is something that scientists have debated for decades.
Nevertheless, new research suggests that it may actually be possible for an Interstellar-style wormhole to exist in real life as an indefinite passage between two fixed points in space and time that wouldn’t instantly collapse the moment they form.
Ping Gao and Daniel Jafferis of Harvard University and Aron Wall of Stanford University have published a new paper detailing the possibility of a wormhole that’s not only more permanent than any that has been theorized before, but that is also “traversable” – people could enter a black hole and travel safely to somewhere else in the universe.
This theory involves the complicated and sometimes messy theory of quantum entanglement, in which two particles on different sides of the universe are inextricably linked so that when one moves, the other, regardless of distance, will also move in exactly the same way.
Thus, if the particles that form the mouths of either side of a wormhole are linked, they can avoid the natural pull of the wormhole itself by being kept at a fixed distance from each other.
This is purely speculation at present, but then, so is a lot of astrophysics and quantum mechanics.
For years, scientists have run afoul of a paradox within current thinking about black holes. Technically, according to present common belief, black holes must completely destroy all information that enters their grasp – this, though, breaks the fundamental rule of the universe that states that matter cannot be created, nor destroyed.
If information enters a black hole and then never returns, it has to go somewhere.
Some scientists wonder if black holes really are so dense that the natural laws of the universe don’t apply within them, and that matter simply ceases to exist in the same form of existence.
It’s possible that Gao, Jafferis, and Wall may be onto something – their theory of traversable wormholes might be the key to better understanding exactly where stuff goes when it disappears into a black hole.
Just don’t expect to be greeted by an elderly Jessica Chastain if ever you fall into a black hole yourself – not everything in Interstellar is law.