Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Mike Bara and wormholes

        Mike Bara, the world-famous theoretical physiscistphysicistnote 1, was given the second half of Coast to Coast AM last night. The peg was the 78th anniversary of the "Battle of Los Angeles"—an event that saw anti-aircraft crews peppering a weather balloon in the mistaken belief that it was part of a Japanese attack. Bara, naturally, preferred the version of the story that  makes the balloon into an extraterrestrial flying machine piloted by LGM. You either believe that or you don't. I don't, personally.

        That little fantasy wasn't nearly enough to fill the allocated two hours—even allowing for the torrent of commericals C2C is now allowing itself—so George Noory moved on. "Of all the things you've investigated," he said,"which one gets you the most excited?" I thought Bara would say "The Bermuda Triangle" in order to plug his most recent book (which has been hammered by Amazon reader reviews). But no, what gets Mike all fizzy today is wormholes. He said "I believe wormhole technology has been solved. It'll be announced later this year. We'll be able to travel faster than light to the stars!!!"

        Well, y'know, there's no such thing as "wormhole technology" and never will be. It's not a technology and hardly even a science—more of a mathematical exhibit. Wormholes are a theoretical consequence of general relativity, invented (as a means of space travel) by Kip Thorne more as a way of teaching relativity than a speculation about what we humans might actually be up to in another 1,000 years. I like to think that Prof. Thorne rolls his eyes somewhat when he hears of half-educated nincompoops like Mike Bara misunderstanding his work.

Change at Châtelet
        My question to wormhole-believers is this: Supposing you did find the entrance to a wormhole. How in hell would you know where in the universe it pops back up into reality? It might not be anywhere you're remotely interested in going. If you're lost in Paris, you can always study the map of the Métro and eventually get it. «Direction Porte de Clignancourt, six stops, change at Châtelet, direction Mairie des Lilas, four more stops.» But in a womhole-rich universe, there's no Métro map and no changing at Châtelet. You disappear and re-appear in some location over which you have no control. Is that really practical, do you think?

        Another problem is that, unlike the Paris Métro (other than during industrial strikes, of course) there's no guarantee that a reverse hole exists to get you back home. Like the failed Mars One scheme of a few years ago, it's a one-way ticket if it's a ticket at all.

        Oh God! It's just occurred to me that perhaps the reason Bara made this topic his front page headline last night was because that'll be the subject of his next book. God save us, and save the trees!!!

        In the movie of "Contact" it's not made clear, but in fact Carl Sagan had the idea that a very advanced civilization might be able to artificially construct a two-way wormhole specifically for the purpose of superluminal travel between points A and Z. That's like closing the Paris Métro except Line 4, then closing all the intermediate stations so that the only possible journey is between Porte d'Orléans and Porte de Clignancourt. It's hard to imagine that being very popular.

        If this is the sort of thing Mike Bara means when he referes to "Wormhole technology" he's dreaming. Well, we knew that, I guess.

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[1] Just kidding. "Former CAD-CAM technician" is the truth.


2% said...


What are your credentials, expat?

expat said...

I'm not saying.

THE said...

Remember all those scientists who warned that, The Large Hadron Collider, might create tiny Black Holes, which could grow to engulf the entire planet and then the Solar System and Galaxy?

CERN devil may care dare devils, went ahead and tried it anyway, and in fact, it does create tiny Black Holes. No one has reported them growing out of control yet, but maybe that does qualify as Wormhole Technology, nonetheless?

Also, a Black Hole has recently been discovered within the Milky Way, but scientists can't explain why the Galaxy is still here.

David Evans said...

"but scientists can't explain why the Galaxy is still here."

Yes, they can. A black hole doesn't suck matter in from arbitrarily large distances any more than our Sun does. Anything in the Solar System that goes near enough the Sun to be sucked in will have disappeared long ago. Same with stars and the galactic black hole. From time to time the orbit of a star will be perturbed enough to make it hit the black hole, but that's a rare event.

expat said...

I deleted two comments. I wouldn't want casual observers to think this blog encourages schoolgirl-style bitchery.

Burgerphlippinfysicist said...

I have a layman's knowledge of astrophysics and a lot of the non-math theory in quantum mechanics. I love these subjects and try To jeep up with news in the fields. These mini black holes may, in fact, blink into and out of existence all the time and, as far as has been observed and further hypothesized, do not have much effect on largeer objects such as yourself and I or earth for that matter. Possible, very theoretical, use for a black hole would be creating a small but not tiny one with super (comically improbable) lasers in the confines of a ship and using the radiation from it to travel as sub-light speeds. I have heard of other quacky sorts of ideas like Mike Bara's but the idea of passing through the event horizon of a black hole or worm hole and then through to some other side intact is, as far as we understand, not just improbable but impossible.