Ciao, amici! Today science fiction/science fact topic is wormholes. You may know them as Einstein-Rosen bridges. Marvel fans (or mythology fans) may know the term bifröst, or the rainbow bridge.
Wormholes form a tunnel, or shortcut, between two points with a vast distance between them. Picture space as a sheet of paper with two dots on it, one at the right margin and one at the left. Draw a line between them. They’re pretty far apart. Now, make a U-shape out of the paper so that the two dots are very close. If you follow the line along the U-shape of the paper, the distance hasn’t changed; it’s still far. But if you create a bridge across the gap (paper edge to paper edge) from one dot to the other, you’ve closed the distance considerably. A wormhole is that bridge across the gap.
When wormholes were first conceived in the 1930s, they were called white holes because they were regarded as the opposite of black holes. Black holes suck in matter and light, and once an object is in it, it can’t come out. White holes were the opposite—nothing could get in them, but they emitted energy.
That already raises a concern. Emitting energy is great; that’s how we’d leave the wormhole at our destination. But how can wormholes let people travel quickly across space if they don’t allow matter inside them to begin with?
Einstein’s theory of general relativity allows for the creation of wormholes, and no one has ever disproved their existence (or their ability to exist). But Stephen Hawking said we’d never be able to use them because of their instability. In their natural state, they don’t last long. And the instant matter is introduced, they collapse.
Now researchers think they’ve solved that problem. They posit the introduction of exotic matter will stabilize a wormhole.
Exotic matter has negative energy density and pressure, so it repels gravity rather than attracting it. It can be a balancing force allowing the wormhole to stay viable.
The good news is exotic particles definitely exist; they aren’t theoretical. The bad news is exotic particles are typically found in tiny increments in quantum experiments, and no one knows if enough exotic matter can be harnessed in one place to stabilize a wormhole.
I, for one, hope scientists figure it out. I get irritated when I have to drive more than twenty minutes. I’d never be able to handle a ten year-flight to Pluto. And no one could survive the centuries necessary to travel to other galaxies. If we want to explore, we need the bridge.
Many sci-fi movies and shows use wormholes to travel vast distances. Two of my favorites are Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. What are your favorites and why? Let’s talk about it.