In science fiction, black holes are often treated as magical doorways to other parts of the universe.
But to astronomers, black holes are all-consuming tyrants; the idea of passing through a black hole has been seen as fairly ridiculous since according to the scientific consensus, all matter that passes through a black hole is destroyed.
A new theory suggests that the sci-fi writers might have been closer to the truth, however.
Dr. Gonzalo Olmo from the University of Valencia in Spain presented the theory, which concerns simple electrically charged, non-rotating black holes. Olmo’s work was first published in Classical and Quantum Gravity, a scientific journal.
“Our theory naturally resolves several problems in the interpretation of
“In the first instance, we resolve the problem of the singularity, since there is a door at the
In other words, the theory allows for the creation of a wormhole. Wormholes are passageways that create shortcuts through space-time, allowing travelers to go from one point to another while bypassing the universe’s speed limit (the speed of light).
The theory is especially exciting because it solves an issue that dates back to the work of Albert Einstein.
Einstein’s theory of relativity predicted the possibility of wormholes. However, the physicist’s theory of gravity maintains that a black hole could only become a wormhole when created from matter with negative energy, density, or pressure.
“In our theory,” Dr. Olmo said, “the wormhole appears out of ordinary matter and energy, such as an electric field.
There is, of course, a catch.
In order to pass through the black hole, you’d be subjected to a process called spaghettification, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like—the profound forces of gravity stretch out your matter, essentially turning you into spaghetti (on a molecular level).
“The gravity wants to sort of stretch you in one direction and squeeze you in another,” said Dr. Joe Polchinski of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
When you came out the other side of the black hole, you’d be returned to your previous form (molecularly speaking). You certainly wouldn’t be alive, however.
Dr. Olmo’s work attempts to show how a theoretical passenger would cross through the wormhole, but of course, it doesn’t address spaghettification or the limits of the human body. In other words, astronauts won’t be stampeding through black holes anytime soon, and for the time being, Interstellar is about as close as we’ll get to wormhole travel.
Still, this is exciting research for anyone interested in how mankind might eventually reach out to the stars. Before harnessing wormholes, we need to understand how they work—and, ideally, how to create them. If Dr. Olmo’s work stands up, it’ll be an important first step.
Since we’re stuck on the boring old Earth for the foreseeable future, we might as well dig a little deeper into spaghettification. Here’s Neil DeGrasse Tyson explaining that interesting (and somewhat gruesome) process.