Grade(s): Middle School
In physics, a wormhole is a hypothetical topological feature of spacetime that would be, fundamentally, a "shortcut" through spacetime. For a simple visual explanation of a wormhole, consider spacetime visualized as a two-dimensional (2D) surface. If this surface is folded along a third dimension, it allows one to picture a wormhole "bridge". (Please note, though, that this is merely a visualization displayed to convey an essentially unvisualisable structure existing in 4 or more dimensions. The parts of the wormhole could be higher-dimensional analogues for the parts of the curved 2D surface; for example, instead of mouths which are circular holes in a 2D plane, a real wormhole's mouths could be spheres in 3D space.) A wormhole is, in theory, much like a tunnel with two ends each in separate points in spacetime.
There is no observational evidence for wormholes, but on a theoretical level there are valid solutions to the equations of the theory of general relativity which contain wormholes. Because of its robust theoretical strength, a wormhole is also known as one of the great physics metaphors for teaching general relativity. The first type of wormhole solution discovered was the Schwarzschild wormhole which would be present in the Schwarzschild metric describing an eternal black hole, but it was found that this type of wormhole would collapse too quickly for anything to cross from one end to the other. Wormholes which could actually be crossed in both directions, known as traversable wormholes, would only be possible if exotic matter with negative energy density could be used to stabilize them. (Many physicists such as Stephen Hawking,Kip Thorne, and others believe that the Casimir effect is evidence that negative energy densities are possible in nature.) Physicists have not found any natural process which would be predicted to form a wormhole naturally in the context of general relativity, although the quantum foam hypothesis is sometimes used to suggest that tiny wormholes might appear and disappear spontaneously at the Planck scale, and stable versions of such wormholes have been suggested as dark matter candidates. It has also been proposed that if a tiny wormhole held open by a negative-mass cosmic string had appeared around the time of the Big Bang, it could have been inflated to macroscopic size by cosmic inflation.
I'm the Founder and co-creator of Sophia and I love to create new things. I have a deep passion for education and technology, and I spend a lot of time thinking about how they could come together more effectively. I earned my bachelor's degree in U.S. History from the University of Wisconsin and my MBA from the University of Minnesota. I'm also the proud father of three daughters who give me a lot of great feedback on how to improve Sophia. I hope you'll send me your thoughts and ideas about Sophia. You can also feel free to share your thoughts on education, technology, American history (my personal passions are presidential and immigration history), music, songwriting, or baseball. I’d love to hear from you. - Don
I am a junior high math teacher, an assistant varsity baseball coach and also serve as the junior high math league advisor at a Catholic school in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. I reside in south Minneapolis with my wife and our two children. St. Mary’s University, B.A., Education K-8 with emphasis on Mathematics, 2000; Marygrove College, M.A., Art of Teaching Middle School Mathematics, 2009; member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; ten years teaching experience.