The concept of wormhole travel has been around in science fiction for several decades, but the idea hit the big time back with the movie “Contact” back in 1985, and has returned to the forefront of public attention with Christopher Nolan’s sprawling new epic film “Interstellar.”
It turns out, however, that while wormhole travel may be theoretically possible according to some physicists, experts say it will likely be centuries, if ever, before we travel in wormholes given we can’t even firmly prove the existence of the phenomena at this point.
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More on wormholes and wormhole travel
Wormholes are tunnels through the fabric of space-time that could potentially allow nearly instant travel between two far distant points — from a planet in one galaxy to another galaxy, for example.
Most physicists concur that wormholes are possible according to Einstein’s theory of general relativity, but such exotic trips will likely remain in the realm of science fiction for quite some time, noted famous astrophysicist Kip Thorne of the California Institute of Technology, who worked as an adviser and executive producer on “Interstellar.”
Statements from astrophysicist Kip Thorne
“The jury is not in, so we just don’t know,” Thorne told Space.com in a recent interview. “But there are very strong indications that wormholes that a human could travel through are forbidden by the laws of physics. That’s sad, that’s unfortunate, but that’s the direction in which things are pointing.”
The big problem is a wormhole’s instability, he said. Thorne noted that holding wormholes open would require an anti-gravity source — ie, negative energy.
Negative energy has been created in the lab via quantum effects, Thorne said, in essence one region of space borrows energy from another region that didn’t have any to begin with, creating a negative situation.
“So it does happen in physics,” he continued. “But we have very strong, but not firm, indications that you can never get enough negative energy that repels and keeps the wormhole’s walls open; you can never get enough to do that.”
“Wormholes — if you don’t have something threading through them to hold them open — the walls will basically collapse so fast that nothing can go through them,” Thorne said in conclusion.