It’s a science fiction mainstay, small and absent from physical space, but researchers say they’ve created what is theoretically a wormhole.
Researchers have announced that they have simulated two tiny black holes in a quantum computer and transmitted a message between them like a tunnel through space-time.
According to a study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, teleported quantum data revealed a traversable wormhole, but the experiment did not physically create rifts in space and time, they said.
A wormhole – a rift in space and time – is considered a bridge between two distant regions of the universe. Scientists call them Einstein-Rosen bridges after the two physicists who described them: Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen.
“Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. So what we can say at this point is that we have something that looks like a wormhole in terms of the properties we’re looking at,” said Joseph Lykken, a physicist at Fermilab and co-author of the study.
Caltech physicist Maria Spiropoulou, who co-authored the study, described it as having the characteristics of a “baby wormhole” and now hopes to create “step-by-step adult wormholes.” Wormhole dynamics were observed in a quantum device at Google called the Sycamore quantum processor.
Experts not involved in the experiment cautioned against the importance of noting that a physical wormhole has not actually been created, but noted future possibilities.
Daniel Harlow, a physicist at MIT, He informed the New York Times about it the practice was based on modeling so simple that it could be learned using pen and paper.
“I would say that it doesn’t teach us anything about quantum gravity that we don’t already know,” Harlow wrote. “On the other hand, I think it’s exciting as a technical achievement, because if we can’t do it this way (and we haven’t so far), then simulating more interesting theories of quantum gravity would certainly be off the table.”
The authors of the study themselves clarified that scientists are far from sending people or other creatures through such a portal.
“For me, experimentally, I’ll tell you, it’s very, very far. People come up to me and ask me if you can put your dog in a wormhole. So, no,” Spiropulu told reporters during a video briefing. “… It’s a big leap.”
Lykken added: “There is a difference between something being possible in principle and being possible in reality.
“So don’t hold your breath to send your dog through the wormhole. But you have to start somewhere. And I think that it is very interesting for me that we can get our hands on this issue at all.”
Such wormholes are consistent with Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which focuses on gravity as one of the fundamental forces in the universe. The term “wormhole” was coined by physicist John Wheeler in the 1950s.
“These ideas have been around for a long time and are very powerful ideas,” Lykken said. “But at the end of the day, we’re in experimental science, and we’ve been struggling to find a way to explore these ideas in the lab for a long time now. And that’s what’s really exciting about it. It’s not just, ‘Okay, wormholes are cool.’ It’s a way to look at these very fundamental problems of our universe in a laboratory setting.”
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