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The BBC's Dr David Whitehouse
The speed of light is simply too slow
 real 28k

Wednesday, 12 April, 2000, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Wormholes take on a new dimension
wormhole
New calculations suggest that wormholes large and stable enough to allow intergalactic travel really can exist.

The possibility that the cosmos is peppered with wormholes, short cuts through space and time, has long intrigued scientists.

Current models, based on Einstein's general theory of relativity, suggest that only tiny quantum-sized wormholes may exist.

A type of negative-energy filling, known as "exotic matter", keeps them open. However, the difficulty of producing exotic matter limits the size of wormholes to the sub-atomic scale.

Now, says New Scientist magazine, a Russian theorist has come up with a calculation for a large, stable wormhole that is compatible with the known laws of physics.

Energy supply

According to Sergei Krasnikov of the Pulkovo Observatory in St Petersburg, the new wormhole can create its own abundant supply of exotic matter. This way, the wormhole would be big enough and could stay open long enough for people to use.

Other theorists admit to being intrigued by the new work, but remain cautious.

"It's worth taking seriously right now," Ian Moss, a relativity expert at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, told BBC News Online.

"But I suspect it will fall down on some technical detail."

Krasnikov accepts that testing his claims by building a wormhole is far beyond present technology.

Even so, such wormholes may have been left over from the Big Bang, he says, and finding one would have a dramatic effect on interstellar travel.

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