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  • Yuveer Mulchandani

Science Fiction Time Travel May Not Be as Far into the Future as We Think

Humanity’s collective fascination with time travel has existed since time immemorial. Being the crux of many science fiction movie concepts - this phenomenon seemed to be mere fiction. But as science progresses, could we be making progress towards this intriguing concept?

To understand how this would be possible, there are numerous concepts which we need to understand. The first being a wormhole or an Einstein-Rosen Bridge which is a ripple in space-time that connects two black holes.It was believed to have the property of being non-traversable as any particle entering it would cause it to collapse. This was proposed in a general relativity paper [ER] by two prominent physicists - Einstein and Rosen in 1935. Later in the same year, another paper relating to quantum physics authored by Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen [EPR] was published describing the concept of quantum entanglement. Entanglement is property present in subatomic particles which binds in such a way that even if they are opposing ends of the universe, by knowing information held by one you could predict the information held by the other.

For years it was believed that ER and EPR were two unique papers with nothing in common. However, in 2013, a paper written by Maldacena and Susskind proved the contrary. These two concepts were proved to be different versions of one another (technically termed a duality). They believed that a wormhole was the entanglement of two black holes. This conjecture opened up a whole field of scientific research - quantum gravity - the connection between quantum physics and general relativity. To further understand this field mathematically, physicists use a system called holographic duality, which can be compared to a dictionary, relating quantum forces to gravitational ones.

The next development in this regard comes in the year 2019 in a paper published by Jafferis and Gao, relating to traversable wormholes. The paper stated that if a wormhole was impacted by a pulse of a special type of energy - known as negative energy - then it could be made traversable. While we lack the technology to do this physically, this paper in theory proved it was possible for us to travel through bridges of space-time.

In order to prove these theories, Maria Spiropulu, an experimental physicist proved these papers by using quantum computing to simulate a wormhole. With the help of her team, she managed to successfully make a particle traverse through a simulated wormhole.

Though the technology to make traversable wormholes a reality is far and distant, in theory, time-travel just got a whole lot easier.

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