Imagine flying through outer space. We need to get to a place that is 200 lightyears away. Normally, traveling 200 lightyears would take at least 200 years even if we travel at the speed of light. So, that narrows out our imagination. It is impossible, right? Well, here is where we apply a special concept called Faster Than Light Travel (FTL). It is a concept that permits communication and travel of matter faster than the speed of light. According to special relativity, only a particle having zero mass may travel “at” that speed. So, how do we achieve it? The answer is a special concept called “Wormholes”.
What are Wormholes?
Wormholes are like portals through which matter can travel from one point in spacetime to another faster than light. The concept of wormholes is more science fiction than reality. We see it in movies like Interstellar. But are they possible? Special relativity doesn’t allow the existence of such portals that we can pass through. But when we turn to quantum physics, there emerges a possibility. The problem here is that these portals may take longer to pass through, or they would be microscopic. But a new study beyond the standard model of physics says that there are portals that are big enough for us to travel through.
Juan Maldacena, the Carl P. Feinberg Professor of Theoretical Physics of the Institute of Advanced Study and Alexey Milekhin, an astrophysics graduate from Princeton University conducted a study on “Humanly Traversable Wormholes“.
History of Wormholes
The idea of human traversable portals in spacetime came in the early in the 20th century when Einstein released his relativity theories. Karl Schwarzschild was the first to postulate the theory based on his solutions to Einstein’s equations. One result of his solutions was the existence of “eternal black holes”. They are places where two points of spacetime are connected. These were called “Einstein-Rosen Bridges”. Such bridges were unstable and would collapse quicker before any human can pass through them.
The Solution to Wormholes: Negative Energy
According to the study by Maldacena and Milekhin, traversable wormholes exist only in certain special situations. It calls for the existence of Negative Energy. Negative Energy is not possible in classical physics but is possible in the Quantum realm. The Casimir Effect is the best example of such an event to occur. In the Casimir effect, negative energy is produced by quantum fields circulating along a closed circle. The effect is small because it is quantum but the duo thought of a way to get around it. Black holes with a large magnetic charge. They think that Fermions are the key to solving this mystery. Fermions travelling along the magnetic field of black holes can create negative energy and the effect highlights the possibility of wormholes.
To solve the size dilemma, the duo used the Randall-Sundrum II model which explains the universe in five dimensions. The five-dimensional universe may also define physics at lower energies than we usually observe. It may provide situations for negative energy. From the outside, it will have an intermediate size enough for us to pass through. They also claim that it will take no time to traverse through these bridges but from an observer’s perspective, it would take longer. For example, it will take only 1 second to travel 10,000 lightyears but for someone outside the spacecraft, it will take the same 10,000 years. It is consistent with Einstein’s general relativity.
While the study shows the existence of such bridges of spacetime, the idea isn’t practical. We have no means to create negative mass which is also not natural. Another factor is that the crew will have to endure massive cosmic background radiations. Maldacena and Milekhin say that the concept is only theoretical as to show that such events are possible within the realms of physics.
So, Is It Plausible?
It is clear that wormholes are not a practical way of interspace travel. We cannot even foresee the technology required to create such an event. But it is proof that what was once science fiction is actually a reality.
Don’t Miss – “Can Sound Waves Extinguish Fire?”