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Lauren Admire | 19 Apr 2010 21:00
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Black Holes Are Wormholes to Alternate Universes

According to a new theory (or, perhaps, an old one, if you're a science fiction fan and familiar with the concept of wormholes), black holes may be gateways into alternate universes. Any matter that's sucked into a black hole emerges into another universe on the "other side" of the black hole tunnel. Therefore, "our own Universe may be the interior of a black hole existing inside another Universe."

Or, so says Nikodem Poplawski, a physicist from Indiana University. In his paper published in Physics Letters B, he throws out complicated equations that strongly suggest the existence of these wormholes. Poplawski's theory is an alternative to Einstein's controversial "space time singularities." These are infinitely hot and dense points in space that are believed to exist in the center of black holes. Though indirect evidence supports Einstein's ideas, many scientists have a hard time wrapping their heads around it - and when quantum physicists - whose job is to handle these mind boggling theories - have a hard time swallowing it, perhaps considering for a different theory is not such a bad idea.

The "black holes as wormhole" theory would also explain gamma ray bursts - ultrapowerful explosions that are only second in overall intensity after the Big Bang. Currently, they're believed to be the result of star deaths (supernovae), but the new theory postulates that they are actually discharges of matter emerging from the end of a black hole in an alternate universe.

Further, Poplawski's theory may also explain certain features of our universe. After the Big Bang, the curvature of the universe should have been constantly increasing until it was closed and spherical. However, studies have shown that our universe appears to be entirely flat. Not only is it flat, but it's also uniformly the same temperature throughout. This implies that every object - to the farthest reaches of the galaxy - must have been close enough at some point to achieve temperature equilibrium. However, the objects are so far apart that "the time it would take to travel between them at the speed of light exceeds the age of the universe," as Ker Than, writer at National Geographic News so eloquently states.

The theory of inflation has been proposed to answer these discrepancies. According to inflation, our universe experienced a rapid expansion shortly after its creation. So, our universe appears to be flat because the sphere we're a part of is just really, really long. It's sort of how, though we know the Earth is round, from a human's point of view, it looks flat in all directions. Inflation also explains why objects that are so far away would have, at some point, been close enough to interact and, one assumes, establish that equilibrium necessary to explain the constant temperature throughout.

Still, with most things quantum, we can't explain what causes inflation, though some have attributed it to "exotic matter," which, unlike our own "normal matter," is repelled by gravity instead of attracted to it. Poplawski believes that this exotic matter was actually created by the collapse of some of the first massive stars, which in turn created the first wormholes.

Despite being really frickin' cool, this theory isn't so much a step forward as it is a step sideways. It still doesn't explain how the universe was created, or even how these alternate universes between wormholes were created. "There's really some pressing problems we're trying to solve," states Andreas Albrecht, physicist at the University of California, Davis. "It's not clear that any of this is offering a way forward with that."

If you're wondering, like I am, how one could possibly even prove a theory such as this - well, the best we can hope for is indirect evidence. To test Poplawski's theory, we'd need to look at the rotation of our universe - specifically, which direction it spins. Black holes rotate, and if our universe was born out of one of them, we would have inherited that same rotation. If experiments show that our universe prefers one direction over another, that could be subtle evidence that the wormhole theory is correct.

Source: National Geographic

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