Was Einstein wrong? + Wormhole tunnels may be possible, new studies suggest

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Was Einstein wrong? Why some astrophysicists are questioning the theory of space-time

EXCERPT: . . . To make progress, we might have to go a step further than saying space-time isn't the smooth, continuous fabric Einstein suggested. According to Einstein, space-time is like a stage [...] even if there were no stars or planets dancing around, space-time would still be there. However, physicists Laurent Freidel, Robert Leigh, and Djordje Minic think that this picture is holding us back. They believe space-time doesn't exist independently of the objects in it. Space-time is defined by the way objects interact. That would make space-time an artifact of the quantum world itself, not something to be combined with it. "It may sound kooky," said Minic, "but it is a very precise way of approaching the problem."

The attraction of this theory — called modular space-time — is that it might help solve another long-standing problem in theoretical physics regarding something called locality, and a notorious phenomenon in quantum physics called entanglement. Physicists can set up a situation whereby they bring two particles together and link their quantum properties. They then separate them by a large distance and find they are still linked. Change the properties of one and the other will change instantly, as if information has traveled from one to the other faster than the speed of light in direct violation of relativity. Einstein was so perturbed by this phenomenon that he called it 'spooky action at a distance'.

Modular space-time theory can accommodate such behavior by redefining what it means to be separated. If space-time emerges from the quantum world, then being closer in a quantum sense is more fundamental than being close in a physical sense. "Different observers would have different notions of locality," said Minic, “it depends on the context.” It's a bit like our relationships with other people. We can feel closer to a loved one far away than the stranger who lives down the street. "You can have these non-local connections as long as they are fairly small," said Hossenfelder.

Freidel, Leigh, and Minic have been working on their idea for the last five years, and they believe they are slowly making progress. [...] This may all sound incredibly esoteric, something only academics should care about, but it could have a more profound effect on our everyday lives. "We sit in space, we travel through time, and if something changes in our understanding of space-time this will impact not only on our understanding of gravity, but of quantum theory in general," said Hossenfelder. "All our present devices only work because of quantum theory. If we understand the quantum structure of space-time better that will have an impact on future technologies — maybe not in 50 or 100 years, but maybe in 200," she said... (MORE - missing details)

Wormhole tunnels in spacetime may be possible, new research suggests

EXCERPTS: . . . The original idea of a wormhole came from physicists Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen. [...] Subsequent work expanded this idea but turned up two persistent challenges that prevent the formation of easily spotted, humanly usable wormholes: fragility and tininess. First, it turns out that in general relativity, the gravitational attraction of any normal matter passing through a wormhole acts to pull the tunnel shut. Making a stable wormhole requires some kind of extra, atypical ingredient that acts to keep the hole open, which researchers call “exotic” matter.

Second, the kinds of wormhole-creating processes that scientists had studied rely on effects that could prevent a macroscopic traveler from entering. The challenge is that the process that creates the wormhole and the exotic matter that stabilizes it cannot stray too far from familiar physics. “Exotic” does not mean physicists can dream up any sort of stuff that gets the job done on paper. But so far, familiar physics has delivered only microscopic wormholes. A bigger wormhole seems to require a process or type of matter that is both unusual and believable. “That’s the delicacy,” says Brianna Grado-White, a physicist and wormhole researcher at Brandeis University.

A breakthrough occurred in late 2017, when physicists Ping Gao and Daniel Jafferis, both then at Harvard University, and Aron Wall, then at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., discovered a way to prop open wormholes with quantum entanglement—a kind of long-distance connection between quantum entities...

One easy-to-picture idea comes from a preprint study by Iqbal and his Durham University colleague Simon Ross. The two tried to see if they could make the Gao-Jafferis-Wall method produce a large wormhole. “We thought it would be interesting, from a sci-fi point of view, to push the limits and see whether this thing could exist,” Iqbal says. Their work showed how special disturbances within the magnetic fields surrounding a black hole could, in theory, generate stable wormholes. Unfortunately, the effect still only forms microscopic wormholes, and Iqbal says it is highly unlikely the situation would occur in reality.

[...] Physicist Juan Maldacena of the Institute for Advanced Study, who had suggested connections between wormholes and entanglement back in 2013, and his collaborator Alexey Milekhin of Princeton University have found a method that could produce large holes. The catch in their approach is that the mysterious dark matter that fills our universe must behave in a particular way, and we may not live in a universe anything like this...

[...] The boom in wormhole research continues. So far, nothing like a made-to-order human-sized wormhole machine looks likely, but the results do show progress. “We’re learning that we can, in fact, build wormholes that stay open using simple quantum effects,” Grado-White says. “For a very long time, we didn’t think these things were possible to build—it turns out that we can.” (MORE - missing details)

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