Time-Traveling Wormholes Could Be Our Ticket To The Future, And More Sci-Fi Discoveries

Albert Einstein's theory of relativity first suggested the possibility of wormholes, a theoretical passage through space-time that could create a tunnel for time travel. Now, the possibility a little closer to reality. Nope, we're not describing a Star Trek episode: Scientists are actually exploring the possibility of time travel. That's pretty cool. But the biggest challenge with these pesky wormholes, a problem not even Einstein could resolve, is that they're highly unstable and close too quickly for even a photon to pass through — and photons are really, really small.

A little background: In 1988, researchers at the California Institute of Technology speculated that it might be possible to keep wormholes open longer using a type of negative energy called Casimir energy. The basic thinking behind this complex theory is that since the space-time vacuum is filled with random quantum fluctuations, which create energy waves, using two parallel plates in the vacuum would force less energy to pass through them. Boom — negative energy.

And now scientists at the University of Cambridge might have found an easier way to create that negative energy. "What if the wormhole itself could take the place of the plates?" lead researcher Luke Butcher proposed to New Scientist. His calculations show that if the wormhole's throat is longer then the width of its mouth, the tube-like structure does indeed create energy at its center.

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"Unfortunately, this energy isn't enough to keep the wormhole stable. It will collapse," Butcher told the magazine. "But the existence of negative energy does allow the wormhole to collapse very slowly." The calculations show that the wormhole might be able to stay open long enough for a single pulse of light to pass through, and since each end of the wormhole can exist in different points of time, that means that a message could then be passed through time.

Don't expect to see companies manufacturing wormhole smartphones anytime soon, though. "Does this mean we have the technology for building a wormhole?" Matt Visser at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand said to New Scientist. "The answer is still no ... [but] from a physics perspective, it may revitalise interest in wormholes."

Inspired by this latest development with wormholes, here are four inventions that sound like they're straight out of a sci-fi movie...

Telepathy

In 2009, a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin developed a telepathy cap that allowed someone to tweet a message just by thinking of it. This is a major advancement for paralyzed individuals.

Nanorobotics

Tiny robots the size of .1-10 micrometers have been swimming into people's bloodstreams to cure diseases, repair cells, improve organs, and help them lose weight for years now.

The Bionic Eye

A device called the "Argus II" takes a video signal from a camera built into sunglasses, and transfers the image into implants in blind people's retinas.

Google Glass

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Of course Google Glass was going to make the list. It's less Star Trek and more Terminator, but it's still pretty impressive technology. The wearable computer allows you to do pretty much everything we do now with our smartphones, laptops, ereaders, iPods, etc. but without the use of hands. Unfortunately, this invention also created a not-so-impressive byproduct: the Glasshole.

Images: Wikipedia, YouTube/Wired, Flickr/Chris Isherwood, Flickr/bnilsen