A team of Spanish researchers has created what they call the world’s first experimental wormhole using electromagnetism instead of gravity.
Similarly to the cosmic tunnels connecting two distant regions of the universe described by theoretical physicists and science fiction writers, the electromagnetic wormhole connects two regions in space. It creates an invisible tunnel that transfers the magnetic field from one point to the other completely undetected.
The experiment designed by a team from the Department of Physics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona consists of a multi-layered sphere with a ferromagnetic surface, a second superconducting layer and a ferromagnetic sheet rolled into a cylinder that crosses the sphere from one end to the other.
Thanks to its design, the sphere’s magnetism can’t be detected from the outside. However, the magnetic field from a source, such as a magnet or an electromagnet, appears at the other end of the wormhole as an isolated magnetic monopole.
Magnetic monopoles, which are essentially magnets with only one pole, don’t exist in nature.
The researchers explained the experiment appears as if the magnetic field travels from one point to another through a dimension that lies completely outside the conventional three dimensions.
Similarly to gravitational wormholes, the magnetic wormhole "changes the topology of space, as if the inner region has been magnetically erased from space," explained lead researcher Àlvar Sánchez.
In 2014, Sánchez’s team created a magnetic fibre capable of transporting the magnetic field from one end to the other. Unlike the wormhole, the fibre was magnetically detectable.
The researchers believe the invention, described in the latest issue of the journal Scientific Reports, will pave the way for various applications. In medicine, for example, the technology could increase patients' comfort by distancing them from magnetic detectors during MRI scans, or could allow MRI images of different parts of the body to be obtained simultaneously.
Creating gravitational wormholes, such as those that allowed characters of the last year’s science fiction blockbuster Interstellar to cross the universe, would require manipulating gravitational fields with huge amounts of energy, which no-one knows how to generate.