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Quantum Wormholes

Updated -- 1 April 2005

In an article entitled, “Quantum wormholes could carry people”, Charles Choi [1] gives a brief hard science description of a old science fiction concept of quantum wormholes serving as faster-than-life doorways into the rest of the universe.  The wormholes for use by quantum particles have been in the theory stable for some time, but now physicists are thinking in terms of opening the holes wide enough for people to make the trip.

On the one hand, matter entering a wormhole adds positive energy which then collapses the wormhole into a black hole, a supermassive region with a gravitational attraction sufficiently intense to prevent even light escaping.  [Thus the term, “black hole”.  Duh.]  This would yield sort of an infinite sink.  (As opposed to a “white hole”, where it’s all coming out in the form of an infinite source.)

However, by relying on something called “ghost radiation” (I kid you not), the collapse could be prevented.  The ghost radiation is considered negative energy which could offset the positive energy.  In addition to quantum theorizing, such effects have now been shown experimentally to exist.  In other words, they might actually be real!

The curious part is that adding just the right amount of negative energy could prevent the wormhole from collapse, but that too much ghost radiation and the wormhole could “briefly explode into a new universe that expands at the speed of light, much as astro-physicists [and cosmologists] say that our universe did immediately after the Big Bang.”  This apparently is something not considered to be a good thing.

However!  Consider the observation that as an object approaches the speed of light, time slows down, reaching a standstill when the traveler is speeding along at precisely the speed of light.  This is Einstein’s Special Relativity.  The curious part is that if one were to fall into a black hole, they are destined for oblivion (or a deconstitution into their elementary particle parts).  However!  With time slowing down from the viewpoint of an outside observer, the individual cruising into the black hole would not notice the time lag.  Just as in the famous Twin Paradox of Special Relativity, the twin moving about at the speed of light would have lived years (at what is an apparently normal rate to them), but the twin at home would observe a much longer period of time, perhaps centuries.  In effect, if you see your friend fall into a black hole -- those little buggers are everywhere you know! -- not to worry.  Years later you can think of them as still falling into the black hole. They will in theory still be falling into the black hole when you're in your grave.

If we now take this concept and apply it to the ghost radiation inspired universe in the above, we can ask if it is possible that our universe -- the one with all the stars, galaxies, and other denizens of deep space -- is simply the result of a wormhole traveler who used a bit too much juice (i.e. negative energy, ghost radiation), and thereby created our universe -- which from our viewpoint is some (15 ±5) billions years old?  The traveler might indeed think of the episode as an over-ghost-radiation-dosed wormhole which “briefly explode[d] into a new universe that expand[ed] at the speed of light”.  For us, it’s everything!

In Hyperdimensional Physics and Superstrings, the current fad is to think in terms of the 6 to 24 additional dimensions as dimensions which have collapsed down to the point of the Planck length (about 10-33 cm).  Maybe it’s the other way around!

Perhaps our universe is a wormhole gone ballistic (i.e. Big Bang), and all of the other dimensions are where the real action is.  Perhaps as the movie, Men in Black, made popular, our universe is just a golf ball on a much larger putting green -- a golf ball generated by an extradimensional being adding too much negative energy to the mix.

From our viewpoint, creating more wormholes -- and then whole universes, which do their brief thing from our viewpoint -- is still in the theoretical stage. This is the good news.  The other news is that the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland is ramping up and expecting to generate one mini-black hole per second.  With such a supply of wormholes, quantum-sized particles could then be sent on their merry way -- perhaps creating worlds within worlds within worlds within....

While the energy to send a person through a wormhole is theoretically the equivalent to converting the mass of Jupiter to energy, the fact remains that for Zero-Point Energy, it’s merely a slightly larger blib on the energy generator.  It’s a matter of roughly 1050 power availability of ZPE energy times that needed for the Jupiter conversion thing.  Hey, a piece of cake.  (Or is it, “easy as cake”?)

For the intrepid traveler, there is a much more detailed -- with lots of pictures! -- account of these wormholes in the Scientific American article, "Negative Energy, Wormholes and Warp Drive" [2]. This article contains such gems as:

"A region of space, it turns out, can contain less than nothing. Its energy per unit volume -- the energy density -- can be less than zero." [Such possibilities add to the charm of Zero-Point Energy, Mach's Principle, and The Fifth Element.]

"The concept of negative energy is not pure fantasy; some of its effects have been observed in the laboratory. They arise from Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle." [The latter is an attempt at credibility.]

In a black hole, "negative energy is produced by the extreme space-time curvature near the hole, which distrurbs the vacuum fluctuations." [More Zero-Point Energy.]

"Certain wormholes could in fact be made large enough for a person or spaceship. Someone might enter the mouth of a wormhole stationed on Earth, walk a short distance inside the wormhole and exit the other mouth in say, the Andromeda galaxy. The catch is that traversable wormholes require negative energy. Because negative energy is gravitationally repulsive, it would prevent the wormhole from collapsing." [Yes, but what about baggage handling, Andromedan visa requirements, and... exactly where in the Andromeda galaxy? The Zzyzx Resort, or "empty" space?]]

"No Dilithium Needed." [For the Star Trek fans]

"A person who leaves Earth in a spaceship, travels at near lightspeed and returns will have aged less than someone who remains on Earth. If the traveler manages to outrun a light ray, perhaps by taking a shortcut through a wormhole or a warp bubble, he may return before he left."

The latter statement probably deserves a web page all to itself. Which eventually will surely appear on this website. Meanwhile this statement/science does make most of Douglas Adams' conjectures in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy seem all the more plausible. Time travel becomes almost ho-hum in the right scenarios. It also implies that between the possibilities presented in Hitchhiker's Guide and separately, Harry Potter, there is really nothing that can't be done -- provided you have access to the appropriate technology or know the magical incantation. Which is probably why these two novels were the most popular in an English survey a few years ago. Inquiring minds agree: there are no limits.

Isn't science (and magic) just marvelous!!!???


Connective Physics         Zero-Sum Games         Inertial Propulsion

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Levitation         Gravitation Revisited



[1]  Charles Choi, “Quantum wormholes could carry people”, New Scientist, May 23, 2002.

[2] Lawrence H. Ford and Thomas A. Roman, "Negative Energy, Wormholes and Warp Drive", Scientific American, January 2000.



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