One of the most famous problems in modern physics today is that our two of the finest theories to understand the Universe - quantum mechanics and general relativity - work flawlessly well on their own realm, but when you try to chain them, the maths just doesn’t work out. But that’s apparently about to change as a Stanford theoretical physicist has just presented a new equation that proposes the key to ultimately joining the two could be found in strange space-time tunnels called wormholes.
You may think it would require lots of equation and stuff to add these two theories but the equation is deceptively simple: ER = EPR. On the left side of this equation, the ER point towards Einstein and Nathan Rosen, and denotes a 1935 paper they wrote together unfolding wormholes, known theoretically as Einstein-Rosen bridges.
On the right side of the equation, EPR represent Einstein, Rosen and Boris Podolsky, who co-wrote additional research paper that year unfolding quantum entanglement. So the letters in the above equation instead of numerical values, represents the names of some key players in theoretical physics.
So what does that mean?
In 2013, physicist Leonard Susskind Juan Maldacena recommended that the two papers could be unfolding pretty much the same thing - something that no one else in that particular area had previously well thought-out, counting Einstein himself.
Now Susskind is back to talk over the effects if he’s in fact right. Now let’s break it down.
As implied by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, wormholes are somewhat like tunnels amid two places in the Cosmos. There aren’t just portals to different places but also different times. Theoretically, if you enter in one side of a wormhole, you’d come out on the other side just about instantaneously, even if it occurred to be on the exact opposite side of the Universe.
On the other hand: Quantum entanglement defines the way that two particles can interrelate in such a mysterious way that they turn out to be inevitably linked, and fundamentally 'share' an existence.
This means that whatever occurs to one particle will unswervingly and rapidly affect the other - even if it’s several light-years away.
Okay, now let’s get towards combining these two.
In this recent research paper, Susskind suggests a set-up where hypothetical Alice and Bob each take a some entangled particles - Alice takes one participant of each pair, and Bob takes the other, and they go in opposite directions of the Cosmos in their supposed hypersonic jets.
Now once Alics and Bob are in their distinct locations, Alice and Bob bang their particles together with such abundant force, they generate two distinct black holes.
The consequence, says Susskind, is two entangled black holes on opposed sides of the Cosmos, connected in the mid by a massive wormhole.
Tom Siegfried over at Science News, says:
"If ER = EPR is right, a wormhole will link those black holes; entanglement, therefore, can be described using the geometry of wormholes. Even more remarkable ... is the possibility that two entangled subatomic particles alone are themselves somehow connected by a sort of quantum wormhole. Since wormholes are contortions of spacetime geometry - described by Einstein’s gravitational equations - identifying them with quantum entanglement would forge a link between gravity and quantum mechanics."
Is Susskind really right about this? It's difficult to say just yet, since he's published his paper on pre-press blog arXiv.org to be openly scrutinized by his peers.
"To me it seems obvious that if ER = EPR is true, it is a very big deal, and it must affect the foundations and interpretation of quantum mechanics," he writes, adding that if he's right, "quantum mechanics and gravity are far more tightly related than we (or at least I) had ever imagined".