Wormholes useful and convenient, but wormholes also


A wormhole is a theoretical passage through space-time that could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe and allow faster than the speed of light travel. They work by warping and bending space-time to create a tunnel between two points and are predicted to exist by the theory of general relativity. They appear to be very useful and convenient, but wormholes also bring many dangers with them such as sudden collapse, high exposure of radiation and dangerous contact with exotic matter. They might also not even occur in the universe naturally or not be possible to create artificially, and to travel through. 1237
Wormholes were first theorized in 1916. While reviewing the solutions to equations in Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity by German physicist Karl Schwarzschild, which described a particular form of black hole known as a Schwarzschild Black Hole, Austrian physicist Ludwig Flamm discovered that another solution was also possible. This solution stated that black holes could be ‘extended’ and that a ‘white hole’ could exist, a phenomenon that is a theoretical time reversal of a black hole. Unlike a black hole that acts as a vacuum, drawing in any matter that crosses the event horizon, the boundary around a black hole beyond which no electromagnetic radiation can escape from, a white hole acts as a source that ejects matter from its event horizon. Entrances to both black and white holes could be connected by a space-time tunnel, via their singularities, where matter travels through the tunnel in one direction. Some physicists believe that the Big Bang was the result of a white hole opening and creating a new universe inside of a parent universe. 134
In 1935, the physicists Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen used the theory of general relativity to elaborate Flamm’s idea, proposing the existence of “bridges” through space-time. These bridges connect two different points in space-time, theoretically creating a shortcut that could reduce travel time and distance. The shortcuts came to be called Einstein-Rosen bridges. Later in 1957, American physicist John Wheeler gave them the name ‘Wormholes’. 1345
If enough mass is concentrated at a point, a singularity is formed. Objects approaching the singularity pass through an event horizon from which they can never return from. If two singularities in far apart locations could be merged, a wormhole tunnel can be formed between them. Einstein’s theory of general relativity supports the existence of wormholes as it states that any mass curves space-time. 356
“The whole thing is very hypothetical at this point”, told Stephen Hsu, a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Oregon, to the website livescience.com. “No one thinks we’re going to find a wormhole anytime soon.” 1
Nora Taylor Redd describes a wormhole as containing “two mouths, with a throat connecting them”. The mouths would most likely be spherical instead of circular. “The throat might be a straight tunnel, but it could also wind around, taking a longer path than a more convenient straight route will require”. 1

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To better understand a wormhole, the universe can be visualised as a sheet of paper with two marks drawn on it, representing two points in space-time. If a line is drawn between the marks, it represents the distance from one point to another in normal space-time. By bending the sheet of paper so that both marks meet, and piercing a pencil through them, a much shorter way of linking the two points in space-time is provided. This represents what a wormhole does. In reality, space-time is three-dimensional, and is bent using the fourth dimension. The wormhole’s mouth would also appear as a sphere instead of a circle because the wormhole in is three-dimensional space. 456
No wormholes have been discovered to date, even though that Einstein’s theory of general relativity mathematically predicts them. One might be spotted one day by observing the way its gravity affects light that passes by it. 1
Certain solutions of general relativity allow for the existence of wormholes where one mouth of the hole is a black hole and the other is a white hole, as predicted by Ludwig Flamm. However, this is unlikely to be possible. The existence of black holes is something that we have lots of evidence for, but white holes seem to be just mathematical fiction. There is no process in the universe that would actually form them. The process that creates black holes is the result of the collapse of massive stars, which prevents the formation of a white hole. Some physicists believe that real counterparts of wormholes may eventually be found or created and, used as a tunnel or short-cut for high-speed space travel between distant points, or even for time travel. 134
However, a generally accepted property of wormholes is that they are highly unstable, due to the extreme gravity of the mutual singularities, which causes the walls of the throat to attract each other, leading to the wormhole collapsing. The collapse would happen extremely quickly, in a much shorter time than it would take to get through to the other side. Even if the tiniest amount of matter, such as a single photon, attempted to pass through a wormhole, the wormhole would instantly collapse. In order to hold the wormhole open, something must be placed inside it that will repel the walls. This will stabilize the throat and withstand the extreme gravity of its singularities, but it is unknown if this would be possible to do. 234
Many theoretical ways to get around the problem of the wormhole closing have been suggested. These include using cosmic strings, negative matter or some other exotic matter with negative energy. This would cancel out with the energy of the walls and create a pure vacuum inside the wormhole. 234
The idea of wormholes for the time being still remains largely in the world of science. It has still not been mathematically proven that some kind of exotic matter with negative energy density is an absolute requirement for wormholes, nor has it been confirmed that such exotic matter could exist, so a practical application of the theory still remains possible. 24
Travelling Through a Wormhole
Many science fiction novels, TV shows, and movies are filled with tales of traveling through wormholes, such as Interstellar, The Avengers or Star Trek. This solves the problem of travelling long distances in space as it can be done in a few seconds instead of thousands of years. However, the reality of such travel is more complicated than it seems. 13

The first problem with wormholes is their size. Primordial wormholes are predicted to exist on microscopic levels, at about 10–35 metres. However, as the universe expands, it is possible that some may have been stretched to larger sizes. Another problem is the wormhole’s from stability. The predicted Einstein-Rosen wormholes could collapse quickly and would be useless to travel through. 135
“You would need some very exotic type of matter in order to stabilize a wormhole.”, said Hsu, “and it’s not clear whether such matter exists in the universe.” 1
More recent research found that a wormhole containing exotic matter could stay open and unchanged for longer periods of time. Exotic matter contains negative energy density and a large negative pressure. Such matter has only been seen in the behaviour of certain vacuum states as part of quantum field theory. If a wormhole contained plenty of exotic matter, whether naturally occurring or artificially added, it could theoretically be used as a method of sending information or astronauts to different places across the universe. However, human journeys through wormholes may be challenging. 1
“The jury is not in, so we just don’t know”, said physicist Kip Thorne, one of the world’s leading authorities on relativity, black holes and wormholes, told space.com. “But there are very strong indications that wormholes that a human could travel through are forbidden by the laws of physics. That’s sad, that’s unfortunate, but that’s the direction in which things are pointing.” 1
Wormholes may not only connect two separate regions within the universe, they could also connect two different universes. Because a wormhole is a tunnel through 4-dimensional space-time, and not just through space, British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and others have also proposed that wormholes might also theoretically be used for travel through time as well as through space, although it is widely believed that time travel into the past will never be possible due to the potential for paradoxes and self-destructive feedback loops. 14
“You can go into the future or into the past using traversable wormholes”, astrophysicist Eric Davis told livescience.com. But it won’t be easy: “It would take a herculean effort to turn a wormhole into a time machine. It’s going to be tough enough to pull off a wormhole.” 1
“A wormhole is not really a means of going back in time, it’s a short cut, so that something that was far away is much closer”, NASA’s Eric Christian wrote. 1
Although adding exotic matter to a wormhole might stabilize it to the point that astronauts could travel safely through it, there is still the possibility that the addition of ‘regular’ matter would be enough to prevent the wormhole from collapsing. Today’s technology is insufficient to enlarge or stabilize wormholes, even if they could be found. However, scientists continue to explore the concept as a method of space travel with the hope that technology will eventually be able to be used. 1
It is also possible that an unseen physical or quantum property prevents a wormhole from being created. They may only exist in quantum foam, the smallest environment in the universe, with tiny tunnels constantly appearing in and out of existence. One day, we may be able to capture, stabilize and resize wormholes. 5
“You would need some of super-super-advanced technology”, said Hsu. “Humans won’t be doing this any time in the near future.” 1


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