Sunday, 29 April 2012

Wormhole


Dear Reader,

I seem to be on a bit of a science bender at the moment. I like to stick with that unclassified blog thing that makes professional bloggers throw their arms up in the air and talk about marketing. . That always happens when someone mentions marketing in my presence. Anyhoo, you have waited and waited some more, because I am late, but finally I am back to talk about wormholes.

Science seems to be high on my agenda at the moment, I am not sure why. I talked about the Universe and threw in a particle physics joke in the last two days (the latter of which I will always be proud of.)

One thing that must be abundantly obvious by now is that none of this is planned, the A-Z Challenge continues to be precisely that, a challenge. Maybe my W post should be about whining...

So, wormholes, what are they?  Wikipedia says the following:

"a wormhole is a hypothetical topological feature of spacetime that would be, fundamentally, a "shortcut" through spacetime. For a simple visual explanation of a wormhole, consider spacetime visualized as a two-dimensional (2D) surface. If this surface is folded along a third dimension, it allows one to picture a wormhole "bridge". (Please note, though, that this is merely a visualization displayed to convey an essentially unvisualisable structure existing in 4 or more dimensions. The parts of the wormhole could be higher-dimensional analogues for the parts of the curved 2D surface; for example, instead of mouths which are circular holes in a 2D plane, a real wormhole's mouths could be spheres in 3D space.) A wormhole is, in theory, much like a tunnel with two ends each in separate points in spacetime."

I hope that has cleared everything up! If not then try the practical version. Take a piece of paper and lay if flat on a surface. Put a dot near the left edge and another near the right edge. Lets pretend the dot on the left is our Sun and the dot on the right is the nearest star to us that has some planets (albeit proposed), Epsilon Eridani. Epsilon Eridani is 10.5 light years away give or take which in spaceflight terms is a long way away. So the distance between those two dots is 10.5 light years. Using technology that we haven't invented yet, but at least exist on paper we could get there in a couple of centuries(ish.) Wormholes offer the possibility of dramatically shortening the distance, simply by folding the piece of paper and making the dots touch.

What a wormhole might look like, or not, obviously.
There are some problems, though. No wormhole has ever been observed. There is room for them to exist on paper but we have as yet not observer them. The may well exist, but not near enough for us to leverage their function. This is a little like knowing that I could get a tube into central London from Heathrow Airport in 40 minutes, but living in Australia, this information really isn't much help.  

There is another problem as well. Assuming that wormholes exist as proposed, anyone brave enough to take the shortcut would not only be travelling through space, they would also be travelling through time, which would make scheduling meetings a huge headache. 

Regardless of the problems regarding wormholes they have made interstellar travel, even intergalactic travel possible, in science fiction at least. This is a good thing. How many seasons would Star Trek have run for if they couldn't get out of our own back yard. Doctor Who would be a total non-starter.

It's the Moon, Jim. Just like last week, the week before and the week before that.
Without wormholes, my childhood would have been dull indeed, much of my adulthood as well. Salute the wormhole, even if they don't exist.

More soon, Dear Reader when I shall be X-raying the letter X

xx

2 comments:

  1. I understand the problem with finding them now. Science keeps looking upwards into space when in fact they exist on paper. Thus the famous book worm who is able to leap from The fall of the Roman Empire to Modern Twentieth Century Art in the blink of an eye

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    1. Glad I've cleared that up for you :)

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