Physicists at the University of Cambridge have found a theoretical foundation for the existence of wormholes, which are tubes that connect two different points in space-time. If a piece of information or physical object could pass through the wormhole, it could open the door to time travel or instant communication across enormous distances. “But there’s a problem: Einstein’s wormholes are notoriously unstable, and they don’t stay open long enough for anything to get through.” In 1988, physicists reached the conclusion that a kind of negative energy called Casimir energy could keep wormholes open.

What’s the Big Idea?

The theoretical solution reached at Cambridge has to do with the effects of quantum energy, which tells us that even vacuums are teaming with waves of energy. If you imagine two metal plates in a vacuum, some waves of energy would be too big to fit between the plates, meaning that the space-time between the plates would have negative energy. “[U]nder the right circumstances, could the tube-like shape of the wormhole itself generate Casimir energy? Calculations show that if the wormhole’s throat is orders of magnitude longer then the width of its mouth, it does indeed create Casimir energy at its centre.”