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Scientists say time travel via wormholes might actually be possible

Updated Dec 2nd, 2022 10:12AM EST
Image: NASA

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  • Scientists have found a way to send humans through wormholes and keep them alive for the journey.
  • The theory assumes a lot about various physics models that remain unproven.
  • If you were to travel through one, time would pass by thousands of years for everyone else except for you.

If you’re trying to come up with the holy grail of scientific achievement it’s pretty much a tossup between discovering the secret to immortality and developing time travel. We’re certainly not nearing an age where humans can live as long as they choose, but with regards to time travel, a rather tantalizing discovery has just been made.

As a new paper by researchers at Princeton explains, time travel may indeed be possible under certain conditions, and if specific physics models are accurate. The only catch? It requires a wormhole in space that would allow a human to survive the journey, and we could only go forward in time, not backward. Still, that’s enough to get me out of the year 2020, and that’s all I really care about at this point.

As you might expect, the research paper gets into some pretty intense math and theoretical setups that might not actually be possible. It relies heavily on the Randall-Sundrum model of physics, primarily because the Standard Model only allows for microscopic wormholes to exist, and if we want to travel through time, we’re going to need a wormhole large enough that a person could pass through it and come out the other end in one piece.

The Randall-Sundrum model allows a bit more flexibility when it comes to these specific physics calculations, but the modified Randall-Sundrum II model is even more flexible. The fact that a person would be subjected to intense gravity when passing through a wormhole is the biggest hurdle, and the larger the wormhole is, the more forgiving the gravitational tidal forces would be.

“Better wormholes are possible by using a Randall Sundrum II model with a U(1) gauge field,” the researchers explain. “This model allows for large enough wormholes that could be traversed humanely, i.e. surviving the tidal forces. Using them, one could travel in less than a second between distant points in our galaxy. A second for the observer that goes through the wormhole. It would be tens of thousands of years for somebody looking from the outside.”

A wormhole is like a doorway connecting two points in space. You pass through it, and suddenly you’ve traveled a much greater distance than would have been possible using conventional means. The catch is that while your experience passing through the wormhole feels almost instant, huge stretches of time will pass for the rest of the cosmos.

Again, this is all theoretical,  but based on the conditions of the wormhole, you could pass through it, and, from an outsider’s point of view, by the time you appeared on the other side you might possibly be the last human alive in the entire universe.

It’s some very intense stuff, and right now it only works on paper. Still, if there were a wormhole in front of me right now that let me skip 2020, I might be willing to go the extra hundred thousand years, too.