Scientists to Create Wormholes for Photons to Travel Through Time


Science fiction has come up with some cool things before, but out of all of them, time travel is up there as one of the coolest concepts to be thought of. Unfortunately, the nature of reality, along with the laws of physics doesn't allow us the opportunity of jumping into a wormhole and blasting into the future or past. But the same can't be said for photons. A paper has been written by a scientist from the University of Cambridge named Luke Butcher, where he describes a potential structure of a wormhole that could be remained open for long enough to let a photon to travel through it. This paper is submitted to Physical Review D journal and is published on the following site in an open access format: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1405.1283v1.pdf

The first suggestion of wormholes (http://www.space.com/20881-wormholes.html) came from the great Albert Einstein himself in 1935 alongside Nathan Rosen. Essentially, a wormhole is a hypothetical passageway that is similar to a whirlpool and would allow a daring trekker to break out of the limitations in the space-time continuum. A wormhole could potentially be an entrance to a parallel universe or it could bend through the fabric of the universe as we know it and end up at a different point of the cosmos in another time and area. However, the stability of wormholes are regarded as high risk and probably would not stay open for enough time to be used with the intention of time traveling.

Physicists then started to speculate whether something could be used to support the wormhole in order to keep it open. In 1988, it was suggested by a team of scientists from Caltech that negative energy could possibly be the solution. Because positive energy essentially attracts matter to the point of keeping the wormhole shut, then hypothetically, negative energy could potentially manifest the opposite effect and resist matter, subsequently holding the wormhole open.
At the time, those researchers began to look into the idea of the Casimir effect as the primary source for pumping negative energy into the wormhole to stabilize it. Plates that are parallel to each other in a space-like vacuum undergo certain quantum effects that end up trapping energy (depending on the circumstance, it could be either negative or positive energy) between them. Once a vortex created for a wormhole got started and negative energy got blasted into the center, it would provide the support needed for the hole to be open and hold back the collapse.

However, our problems don't end there. The wormhole would be way too small. When we look at science fiction, we see wormholes as massive openings that let people in giant spaceships pass through unscathed and with ease. In reality, a wormhole, if it even existed, simply wouldn't be wide enough for humans to get through the passageway. Butcher hypothesizes that while people can't travel through these tiny wormholes, it might be possible for photons to (http://phys.org/news/2014-05-physicist-wormholes-photon.html).

After running some calculations built off of prior research, Butcher's new model should be ready to the point of holding a wormhole open, but the problem is it would have to be extremely long and extremely narrow. Another problem is the dilemma of getting the negative energy into its accurate location, as the density of the Casimir energy would be zero when it gets renormalized. Buther writes his paper, "Nonetheless, the negative Casimir energy does allow the wormhole to collapse extremely slowly, its lifetime growing without bound as the throat-length is increased. We find that the throat closes slowly enough that its central region can be safely traversed by a pulse of light.”

Even if these calculations are completely correct and Butcher was able to keep a wormhole open and let a photon travel through, that doesn't mean we'll be able to travel into the future and drink space beer just yet. This paper is only talking about holding the tunnel open and doesn't get into the intricacies of what would happen if a person stepped into it - or even a photon for that matter. For now, we're just going to have to sit there and imagine what we'd do once we have that power.

Astronomers Discover Stars That Devour Earth-Like Planets


Stars feeding on their surrounding planets happen to carry a distinguishing signature and it tells us exactly what they are consuming. This helps us narrow down our search for planets that can hold life.

Our hunt for planets living outside the solar system reveals worlds that are far from being a suitable host for life. Planets that graze stars are orbiting so close to their host star that they end up touching the outer edges. The extensive heat the star gives out heavily affects the outer edge of the planet, similar to how ice in the form of comets end up boiling inside space as they get close to the sun. Eventually, through the effect of drag, the planet gets completely absorbed from getting so close to the sun.

Because planets contain more metals than helium and are thus heavier and elementally rich, the absorption that occurs increases the metallicity of the star. Directly because of the consumption of planets, the outer layers of dying stars such as white dwarfs have been found to contain metals. Trey Mack, a graduate student from Vanderbilt University looked into what happens to stars similar to the sun to see what happens, published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Keivan Stassun, Professor and Trey Mack's supervisor, says, "Trey has shown that we can actually model the chemical signature of a star in detail, element by element, and determine how that signature is changed by the ingestion of Earth-like planets. After obtaining a high-resolution spectrum for a given star, we can actually detect that signature in detail, element by element.”

One theory that is longstanding states that stars that have higher metallicity than usual have a higher chance to contain planets in its orbits. This theory makes sense because if the gas clouds that form stars contain lots of metals, then planets would be much easier to form. Studies based on the population of stars containing planets completely support this old hypothesis to this day. However, this study of metallicity has only been conducted based on one and only one measure - the hydrogen-to-iron ratio.

Instead, Mack looked into the fifteen elemental concentrations contained in the sun and other stars for comparison. He also took into account elements that would be considered critical for creation of planets similar to the Earth, which includes elements like iron, silicon, calcium, and aluminum itself.

The chosen stars, HD 20781 and HD 20782, ended up being a very unique pair of binary stars, and they are both known for having planets in their orbit. Both stars are similar to the sun, though they are a lot older. What is strange is that while there are similarities between these stars and ours, the planets orbiting these alien stars are not. HD 20781 contains a couple of planets comparable to Neptune as far as mass goes with one travelling an orbit similar to that of Mercury, and the other one even closer. Meanwhile, HD 20782 is surrounded by a planet that is almost double the mass of Jupiter and orbiting in a range between that of Mercury all the way to further than even Mars. This was the most stretched out orbit recorded by astronomers until 2012.


These stars contained key elements in higher concentrations than that of the sun, in spite of  being born during a time when the Milky Way galaxy in general had metal content that was lower than when the sun was born. Even more intriguing is the fact the two stars have different concentrations in terms of metals even though they are thought to have been formed in the same cloud of gas.

Mack says, "Imagine that the star originally formed rocky planets like Earth. Furthermore, imagine that it also formed gas giant planets like Jupiter. The rocky planets form in the region close to the star where it is hot and the gas giants form in the outer part of the planetary system where it is cold. However, once the gas giants are fully formed, they begin to migrate inward and, as they do, their gravity begins to pull and tug on the inner rocky planets. With the right amount of pulling and tugging, a gas giant can easily force a rocky planet to plunge into the star. If enough rocky planets fall into the star, they will stamp it with a particular chemical signature that we can detect."

Mack discovered that an element's melting point is directly proportional to the concentration as far as the pair is concerned, when compared to the sun. The measurements correspond with the pattern that is expected had HD 20872 kicked off its life with rocky planetary bodies with collective masses up to ten times that of our Earth. These planets have since become completely absorbed, and it was found that HD 20871 has ended up eating up at least twenty earth-like masses.

Predictably, both scientists highly doubt that either of the sun-like stars would still host planets like Earth. When these findings are applied more widely even, Trey Mack says, "When we find stars with similar chemical signatures, we will be able to conclude that their planetary systems must be very different from our own and that they most likely lack inner rocky planets.” This tells us that our search for life on other planets can be channeled more towards stars with high elemental melting point concentrations, similar to that of the sun.

"This work reveals that the question of whether and how stars form planets is actually the wrong thing to ask," says Stassun. " The real question seems to be how many of the planets that a star makes avoid the fate of being eaten by their parent star?"

New Antioxidant Shows Reverse Aging

A hopeful new study has established that an antioxidant compound that targets a cell's mitochondria may have the ability to reverse effects of vascular function aging, which scientists speculate might ultimately provide as a potential preventative strategy against cardiovascular diseases related to aging.

You can find a link to the published study in the following link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/jphysiol.2013.268680/abstract;jsessionid=E1EED7FD886385B529BBEDB858EBF7D3.f01t01

The primary risk factor in the increase of cardiovascular disease is aging. The endothelium is a cell layer that lines our arteries and begins to functionally decline as we age.  Playing a vital role in the constriction and dilation of blood vessels, the endothelium becomes impaired in its capability to produce dilation. This endothelial dysfunction is one of the primary driving forces in the growth of cardiovascular diseases.

Nitric Oxide (NO) is a molecule that facilitates the regulation of blood flow and it does this by triggering arterial dilation. Nitric Oxide is naturally produced in the body. As our aging progresses, our cell energy powerhouses, called mitochondria, start to produce rising amounts of reactive oxygen species called superoxide. These react with the Nitric Oxide and decrease its availability. The end result of this reaction also deactivates a molecule that helps to synthesize Nitric Oxide, decreasing the amount available even more.

Although superoxide sounds like a bad thing, it's actually a helpful oxygen species that maintains various functions on a cellular level, and is usually maintained by our antioxidants at levels that are safe. Rachel Gioscia-Ryan, a lead author of the study, said in a press release, " You have this kind of balance, but with aging there is this shift. There become way more reactive oxygen species than your antioxidant defenses can handle."

This particular process is called oxidative stress, and is a characteristic of dysfunction of the mitochondria. Preceding this study, it was not known that the reduction in vascular function due to age was directly linked to oxidative stress inside the mitochondria these kinds of endothelial cells.