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WORMHOLES: REALITY OR THEORY?

  By Vaani Goenka

As children, we’ve all dreamt of being a part of cartoon series and fantasy fairy tales where a circular hole in a wall could transport us anywhere, like a vent into a far-far away place. Like, Washington from Beijing. But here, we’re talking further away than that. We’re talking galaxies far away- galaxies we don’t even know exist!

What is space without planets, stars, and galaxies? According to Einstein’s theory, it's like a waterbed. Planets, when placed on the water bed, compress the area below them, and form a depression due to their mass. Since it's just like a rubber sheet, or a water bed, why can’t it be torn, reconstructed, and tailored to make what we want out of it? Maybe it can.

You’re leaving your house to go to the other side of a crack in the ground. A huge road is stretched in front of you, you travel for a long distance and take a turn, and go again on a road parallel to the first one, but opposite in direction. Your destination is quite close to your starting point. Somehow, if it were possible to create a route, then you could save time, and perhaps discover new things on the other side.

 

Worm Holes are imaginary openings in space that connect two very far places: so far that it's impossible to go to one place from the other. Our space water bed is like a huge vertical panel, bent at the end and folded back, like the side of tongs which you hold it from. If we want to travel from a place on the upper bed to the lower bed, it’s a huge distance. But wormholes create a bridge between the right arm and the left arm of the tongs. Imagine a straw forced through the right handle of tongs into the left handle. Now they’re connected. You could travel from the right arm to the left arm in very little time.

According to string theory, there might already be wormholes waiting to be discovered. Fluctuations, or up and down movements in the watery space bed might have already entangled a mass of strings that act as wormholes.

To create a wormhole for ourselves, there are many considerations. It has to allow two-way travel, and have gravity such that it doesn’t kill human beings. Another problem is that gravity is always trying to push close the holes we create, and has the power to cut the bridge into a black hole. We can make use of ‘exotic mass’ that, unlike other bodies, has negative mass. Hence, instead of having a force of attraction, it will repel matter. Once we have two holes on two sides of the parallel panels, we can move them around. The two holes that were previously one above the other can now be far apart and still serve to transport matter.

Progress is slow. With current technology, ATHENA researchers can make 100 antihydrogen atoms every second. At that rate, making 1 gram of the stuff would take many billions of years—longer than the age of the universe itself.

 

But why do we care? Such a discovery or invention could possibly open doors to a new galaxy and we may just be close to shaking hands with more like us, and some unlike us. Humanity could expand into a planet ‘b’. Such a system could be revolutionary and take time, but science will never fail to surprise us. 

“ “But at some point, physicists will need to start focusing on more unusual possibilities”, says Vítor Cardoso.”

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