How Wormholes Could Make The Impossible Possible
The space race is on fire with private companies, like SpaceX and Blue Origin, battling it out to partner with NASA, the intrepid independent federal agency, in a bid to make human space travel as common as a delayed Delta flight.
But getting humans on a profitable spaceship and out of Earth’s atmosphere is just the first challenge. Eventually, just as a car trip coast to coast in the 1900s could average sixty-three days, the time of travel will become a major factor. After all, a trip to the moon under a SpaceX launch is projected at six days while a trip to Mars? Between six and nine months.
No one’s got time for that. Unless you have a wormhole.
It’s important to note for the following, that time (to the average perception) is simply the speed of light. A wormhole is a hypothetical shortcut connecting one side of the galaxy to the other. To build a wormhole, first, some basic understanding is needed of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. In this case, instead of an invisible force that attracts objects to one another (as humans are familiar with standing on Earth), gravity is a curving or warping of space. The bigger an object is, the more it warps space around it. And the more “light” that is bent by gravitational objects, the weirder “time” gets.
Now a wormhole needs a black hole, which is a region of spacetime (the three dimensions of space with a dash of the one dimension of time) where gravity is SO strong that no particles, not even electromagnetic radiation (known as “light” to some), can escape it. This boundary is called the event horizon and that event horizon has got to go to have a fully functioning wormhole.
The easiest method of traversing a black hole’s event horizon is the addition of a white hole. A white hole, or the black hole’s “time reversal”, is a hypothetical spacetime region that cannot be entered. While a black hole is a sphere of “no return”, a white hole is “no admission”. Objects, particles, and whatever else can leave and interact with the outside world when leaving a white hole, but nothing can reach the interior. Basically, it is space’s most exclusive nightclub.
Both are terrifying. But put a black hole on one end, add a white hole on the other, with a space-time conduit in the middle (exotic matter or duct-tape should work), to form a tunnel, called the “throat” by experts, and that in theory should be the beginning of a beautiful wormhole.
That’s all possible if (and that’s the biggest “if” you can possibly imagine) you stabilize it with just the right type of exotic matter. In the past, it was theorized that massive amounts of the exotic matter, negative matter (which is exactly what it sounds like), would be needed on the outside of a wormhole to keep that “throat” from closing the second a single particle entered. But luckily for the average space traveler, João Rosa, a physicist at Aveiro University in Portugal, has a solution. A tweaked form of gravity called generalized hybrid metric-Palatini gravity which, with respect to the OG theory of general relativity, allows for a lot more flexibility in matter and energy, and space and time.
Rosa found that by layering double-thick shells of regular matter, instead of depending on the very hard to come by exotic negative matter, at the entrances of the wormhole provided the gravitational effects needed to open the throat of the wormhole naturally. No need for heavy quantum physics pulling in opposite directions to keep that wormhole open and the possibility of an event horizon out of mind.
So, as we humans venture further into space travel, and likely into the annoyance of long travel times and economy class space shuttles, it’s good to remember that all complicated scientific concepts eventually become common. If you find yourself waiting out a delayed space flight, remember, all you need for a quick wormhole is:
A black hole.
A white hole.
A space-time conduit.
A working theory of gravity.
And an open mind.
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