WHILE we’re on the subject of holes (Were we? Yes we were – pay attention at the back) there’s another type of hole talked about a lot in science fiction – wormholes.
I don’t mean the ones you find in the garden, but the ones many scifi authors find useful for taking characters from one region of space/time to another without that tedious annoyance of reality getting in the way and taking forever.
The idea of a wormhole – basically a short-cut between two points in space or time – has been around for a lot longer than you’d think. Like the theory of parallel universes, it has an essential basis in what could be possible, physics-wise, so you wouldn’t have to throw a stick very far in a scientist convention to hit someone who thinks it could be true.
In 1935, Albert Einstein and a colleague, Nathan Rosen, concluded that the German-born physicist’s theory of relativity “allowed for the existence of bridges that could link two different points in space-time.”
Clever people have been theorising about them ever since, although we haven’t observed one yet. (We haven’t directly seen a black hole, either – but we know they exist).
In fact, only last year scientists in Spain announced they had produced a type of wormhole, in which they had transferred a magnetic field from one place to another, via an invisible porthole. Although this is moving magnetic fields, not matter, it is still intriguing.
And of course our old friend quantum mechanics suggests that matter can be in two places at once, existing in different states – so the idea of being able to move across space or even time without much effort suddenly seems far less strange.
A good way to visualise it is this: Get a piece of paper, and pencil in two dots on the paper to represent different points in time or space. Drawing a line between the dots shows you how far in space or time you have to go to get from point A to point B. Now fold the paper so the two dots are on opposite sides – you can now push a hole through the paper to get from A to B much more directly. Such is a wormhole.
So what would be the use of wormholes, presuming we could make one? Well, the most practical use is taking us from one part of the universe to another in a short period of time, should we ever want to do that.
There is also the intriguing possibility of wormholes through time – they make for great science fiction stories, but could they actually be true?
Maybe. Maybe I’m really writing this in the year 3076, and sending the copy through a wormhole to get published on my blog.
You’ll never know…