A wormhole is a concept used in the theory of relativity that describes shortcuts between two points running outside ordinary space. The term ‘wormhole’ comes from a playful assertion that a worm on an apple will get from one side to the other faster by burrowing through it than by crawling over the surface.
Previously, this same group of mathematicians studied the invisibility cloak theory. The invisibility cloak theory involves sheathing an object with an exotic material so that the light striking the sheathed object moves around it, thus making the object appear to be invisible when viewed from a distance.
The new proposal for the construction of wormholes corresponds with cloaking a pipe to make it invisible. In such a case, the front and back ends of the pipe would ostensibly be connected by an invisible tunnel. This artificial wormhole could be thought of in the same terms as the sleeve of Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, through which objects could be passed from one end to the other without being seen.
Wormholes can be built using metamaterials
The new materials required to construct invisibility cloaks and artificial wormholes, called ‘metamaterials’ are currently the subject of active research. At present, they can, in practice, be constructed for only very limited applications within the range of visible light. A metamaterial designed for use in a microwave invisibility cloak was produced in 2006 at Duke University in the United States by a research team under the direction of Professor David Smith.
Similar materials are suitable for constructing artificial wormholes at microwave frequencies. The construction of a three-dimensional TV would require producing similar materials that work at visible light wavelengths, which, in turn, would require highly advanced nanotechnology. In the near future, artificial wormhole applications will be used in radar technologies and medical imaging.
For example, in MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), which is used by hospitals for the imaging of patients, an artificial wormhole could be used as a shielding tunnel, through which instruments could be passed to the area being imaged without causing interference in the imaging itself.
Professor Matti Lassas’ partners in the development of artificial wormholes are Professors Allan Greenleaf of the University of Rochester, Yaroslav Kurylev of University College London and Gunther Uhlmann of the University of Washington.Sources:
4. Light wormholes could wire space invisibly, Nature 450, 330–331 (2007), Published online 14 November 2007
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