Scientists create ‘baby’ wormhole as science fiction approaches fact

Scientists create ‘baby’ wormhole as science fiction approaches fact

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In science fiction, think movies and TV like “Interstellar” and “Star Trek,” wormholes in the cosmos serve as portals through space and time for spaceships to traverse unimaginable distances with ease. If only it were that simple.

Scientists have long pursued a deeper understanding of wormholes, and now they appear to be making progress. Researchers announced Wednesday that they forged two tiny simulated black holes—those extraordinarily dense celestial objects with gravity so powerful that not even light can escape—into a quantum computer and transmitted a message between them through what a tunnel in space-time.

It was a “baby wormhole,” according to Caltech physicist Maria Spiropulu, who co-authored the research published in the journal Nature. But scientists are a long way from being able to send people or other living things through that portal, he said.

“Experimentally, for me, I will tell you that it is very, very far. People come up to me and ask, ‘Can you put your dog in the wormhole?’ So no,” Spiropulu told reporters during a video briefing. “This is a big leap.”

“There’s a difference between something being possible in principle and being possible in reality,” added physicist and study co-author Joseph Lykken of Fermilab, the U.S. particle physics and accelerator laboratory. “So don’t hold your breath to send your dog down the wormhole. But you have to start somewhere. And I think to me it’s exciting that we can get our hands on all of this.”

The researchers observed the dynamics of the wormhole in a quantum device at Alphabet’s Google called the Sycamore quantum processor.

A wormhole – a break in space and time – is considered a bridge between two remote regions of the universe. Scientists call them Einstein-Rosen bridges after the two physicists who described them: Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen.

These wormholes are consistent with Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which focuses on gravity, one of the fundamental forces in the universe. The term “wormhole” was coined by physicist John Wheeler in the 1950s.

Spiropulu said the researchers found a quantum system that exhibits key properties of a gravitational wormhole, but is small enough to implement in existing quantum hardware.

“Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duck. So that’s what we can say at this point: that we have something that, in terms of the properties we look at, looks like a wormhole,” Lykken said.

The researchers said that no space-time rupture was created in physical space in the experiment, although a traversing wormhole appeared to have emerged based on quantum information teleported via quantum codes to the processor quantum

“These ideas have been around for a long time, and they’re very powerful ideas,” Lykken said.

“But at the end of the day, we’re in experimental science, and we’ve been struggling for a long time to find a way to explore these ideas in the lab. And that’s what’s really exciting about this. It’s not just ‘Well, the wormholes are great.” This is a way to really look at these fundamental problems of our universe in a laboratory setting.”

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