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Mathematical Prestidigitation Suggests Possibility of Electromagnetic Wormholes

October 31, 2007

It may be possible to generate what is called an "electromagnetic wormhole," a shortcut from one region of space and time to another. That's what mathematician Allan Greenleaf of the University of Rochester and his colleagues reported in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.

Based on the idea of invisibility cloaking, their result, they said, opens up the possibility of building an invisible tunnel between two points in space. The researchers made use of geometry to specify the properties of a wormhole's lining of light-bending composite, or metamaterial, and then calculated the optical effects, depending on the metamaterial coating inside the wormhole.

"Imagine wrapping Harry Potter's invisibility cloak around a tube," Greenleaf said. "If the material is designed according to our specifications, you could pass an object into one end, watch it disappear as it traveled the length of the tunnel, and then see it reappear out the other end."

Extrapolating from mathematics that supports the idea of a wormhole effect for electromagnetic waves of all frequencies, the researchers propose possible applications, for example, in endoscopic surgery or for making a 3D television display.

Matti Lassas of the Helsinki University of Technology, Yaroslav Kurylev of University College London, and Gunther Uhlmann of the University of Washington also contributed to the research.

Source: University of Rochester, Oct. 12, 2007.

Start Date: 
Wednesday, October 31, 2007