A team of researchers at Sofia University in Bulgaria may have discovered it a new method of detecting wormholes – assuming they exist at all, of course.
Wormholes are theoretical shortcuts through space and time. Supposedly, if you were to fly a starship in a starship, you could cover enormous distances in a relatively short time. This is very different from a typical black hole – an object from which not even light can escape.
The problem with trying to detect wormholes is that they look a lot like black holes. Currently, we also do not have the technology to observe directly. We study gravitational waves and cosmic microwave background radiation to determine what lies beyond the limits of view. This makes it hard to tell them apart, and the fact that we’re not even sure if wormholes actually exist really adds to the difficulty.
To find black holes (and hopefully wormholes), scientists look at countless data points collected with special telescopes and space sensors. This data is made up of numbers and measurements of radiation intensity, density, position, direction and all other measurable statistics we can think of. Scientists sift through the data and try to make comparisons between indirectly observed phenomena and the things we can observe directly.
It’s like watching a NASCAR race where all but one of the cars are invisible. And then use math to figure out how many other cars are on the track and what their exact position is at any given time.
It wouldn’t be impossible, but it would certainly be a challenge. And in the case of wormholes, that challenge is multiplied exponentially. The track would be infinite in size, the potential number of cars is unlimited, and we have the vantage point of a single-celled organism trapped in the tread of one of the vehicles.
Fortunately, we have a set of mathematical ideas about how gravity works on a universal scale, these are Einstein’s equations. Through certain solutions (interpretations using different assumptions) of those equations, scientists have come up with all sorts of interesting ideas about how the universe might work, including the theoretical existence of wormholes.
If we assume that black holes exist, then there is mathematically enough reason to believe that wormholes exist. This raises several questions. Can matter safely traverse a wormhole? Is there one close enough for people to ever visit? How many are there? How big or small can they be?
But before we can approach any of those questions, we need proof that they exist. Currently we only have theories that they could or maybe even should to exist. Finding actual evidence for one is an entirely different problem.
To that end, researchers at Sofia University in Bulgaria recently devised a few twists in black hole detection methodology that could help us distinguish between singularities and wormholes.
The new methods involve detecting extremely specific machinations of light — a particular type of polarization that occurs in the theoretical throat of a wormhole — to differentiate a worm’s specific gravity radiation.ole with an exhaust from an inescapable black hole.
If the researchers are right, that means we may be able to infer the existence of nearby wormholes from data we already have. If they are so close that we have already detected them with the new method, the chances of them masquerading as black holes in our current databases are more than zero.
Neural’s opinion: This is amazing research with the potential to lead to what would be perhaps the most exciting discovery in the history of science.
But (there’s always a but!) from what we can see, even though the scientists know what they’re looking for now, they’d have to be extremely lucky to discover a wormhole, even if it was right under our noses.
The scientists envision a situation where an object of a specific size, in a specific position, would block an exact amount of radiation from the wormhole, allowing us to measure a specific wavelength more accurately than otherwise possible.
This is like looking for a needle in a haystack by looking at its shadow and desperately hoping that some random event in the universe will make the light hit the needle just right, so that its shadow separates from the lumpy shadow of the haystack. is visible.
They propose another where the throat of the wormhole is perfectly aligned with the angle of our observation. In other words, of the infinite positions from which we can indirectly observe a wormhole’s radiation, there are probably one or two that allow us to distinguish it from a black hole. And with an almost infinite amount of luck, we just might come across a wormhole that exists at the exact position needed to detect it.
The fact that it will still be hard to find wormholes doesn’t detract from how great this study is. Thanks to the work of these researchers, we are closer than ever to determining whether wormholes exist.
That’s exciting for many sci-fi reasons, but it’s also a real eureka moment for physicists, because finding evidence for wormholes would fill in many of the missing pieces in our universe’s puzzle. You can view the (paywalled) research paper here.