Wormholes – theoretical tunnels connecting two points in space or even time – are frequently seen in science fiction movies.
But physicists increasingly believe that they’re a real phenomenon – and one scientist plans to send a message through one to create a new type of teleporting that he calls “counterportation”.
If wormholes exist at all they’re likely to be impossibly tiny – creating a wormhole large enough to send a spacecraft though would require science that at present exists only in Star Trek scriptwriters’ imagination.
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But Hatim Salih, a quantum physicist and honorary research fellow at the University of Bristol’s Quantum Engineering Technology Labs, thinks a stream of information could pass through one of these holes in reality – leading to some very bizarre effects.
Salih told Motherboard that it might be possible to create an AI copy of a human brain, allowing an explorer to actually discover what it’s like to step outside our Universe.
“Imagine if someone’s consciousness, like a strong AI, is copied into a quantum object,” he said. “If you counterport each one the qubits, transport them from one place to another—and if this thing has a subjective experience—then it possibly could tell you what it feels like to go through a wormhole.”
And while the idea seems completely fantastical, Salih insists his planned experiment uses “current technology and currently available components”.
“The hope is that within the next three to four years, we will have built this thing,” he says.
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The idea hinges on what he calls “counterportation” – sending data from point A to point B without anything actually covering the distance between them.
While it sounds close to magic than science, counterportation has already been demonstrated in laboratory conditions.
A team in China showed that they could transmit an image from one site to another even though no particles or data could be seen passing between them.
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If Salih can get even close to his goal, it will be a complete game-changer for science and allow new forms of encrypted communications that will delight spies and bankers across the world.
“If we can strictly say nothing has passed,” he says, “then we can examine some questions in physics, for example, afresh in a different light.”
Not just pure data but actual atoms of matter could be transmitted in this way, Salih speculates, bringing Star Trek’s transports a short but significant distance closer to reality.
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