Sunday Mar 30, 2003

You Can get there from Here

The Einstein-Rosen Bridge

What does physics have to do with art? When a mathematician transcends thinking and enters the realm of pure awareness, he becomes an artist. Universe and its laws were, after all, brought into existence by the Great Creator. Einstein said: I want to know the thoughts of God.

In 1916 Einstein first introduced his general theory of relativity, a theory which to this day remains the standard model for gravitation. Twenty years later, he and his long-time collaborator Nathan Rosen published a paper showing that implicit in the general relativity formalism is a curved-space structure that can join two distant regions of space-time through a tunnel-like curved spatial shortcut.

The paper of Einstein and Rosen was not to promote faster-than-light or inter-universe travel, but to explain fundamental particles like electrons as space-tunnels threaded by electric lines of force. While it was not their intention, these men opened up a workable means for writers of science fiction to take us to distant worlds and galaxies light years away from earth.

Worm holes are the staple for such TV shows as Stargate, Star Trek’s Enterprise, Farscape, and Hollywood films dealing with interstellar travel.

Artificial wormholes were “invented” by astrophysicist Kip Thorne, thanks to Carl Sagan’s meticulous search for the characters in his science fiction novel Contact to have a plausible way to zip around the galaxy at superlight speeds without getting a traffic ticket for completely violating the laws of physics.

The Einstein-Rosen Bridge is based on generally relativity and work done by Schwarzschild in solving Einstein’s equations; one of the solutions to these equations was the prediction of black holes.

A black hole is a region of space-time from which nothing can escape, even light. It can be said that black holes are really just the evolutionary end point of massive stars. But somehow, this simple explanation makes them no easier to understand or less mysterious.

Black holes are the evolutionary endpoints of stars at least 10 to 15 times as massive as the Sun. If a star that massive or larger undergoes a supernova explosion, it can leave behind a fairly massive burned out stellar remnant. With no outward forces to oppose gravitational forces, the remnant will collapse in on itself. The star eventually collapses to the point of zero volume and infinite density, creating what is known as a “singularity”.

As the density increases, the path of light rays emitted from the star are bent and eventually wrapped irrevocably around the star. Any emitted photons are trapped into an orbit by the intense gravitational field; they will never leave it.

Because no light escapes after the star reaches this infinite density, it is called a black hole.»

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