Do wormholes exist?

"Do 'worm holes' exist in the universe and is it likely that we'd ever be able to use them?" - Question posed by Robin

What are wormholes?
In science fiction, wormholes are shortcuts from one part of space to another. They allow a ship to travel vast distances in a relatively short amount of time due to missing out most of the space in between. The classic example is that of an ant crossing a piece of paper: If the paper was folded back on itself, and if the ant could punch a hole through both layers, it could reach the other end of the sheet much quicker than if it just walked across.

A wormhole is the same concept but in three-dimensional space rather than the two- dimensional sheet of paper: as the paper is curved in the third dimension of space, so it is believed that space itself is curved in a fourth dimension that we, on small scales, can't detect. This means that if we could punch a hole in space itself, we could feasibly travel to places many thousands of light years away in a fraction of the time it would take to get there flying through normal space.

Do wormholes really exist?
No-one has ever observed evidence of a wormhole, and nobody has been able to put together a good idea of how they might be created, so from that point of view things don't look promising. However, all is not lost: General Relativity offers our best description of the universe so far, and a number of scientists have discovered that the mathematics of Einstein's theory allows the existence of wormholes.

So the short answer would be that we just don't know: the current best theories of how the universe works say that they can exist, but we have no evidence of any actually existing, or any ideas as to how they could be formed either naturally or by design.




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