Skip to Content
77 Mass Ave

Quarks Linked by Wormholes?

Quantum entanglement may explain gravity.
February 18, 2014

Quantum entanglement is one of the more bizarre theories to come out of the study of quantum mechanics—so strange, in fact, that Albert Einstein famously referred to it as “spooky action at a distance.”

Hypothetical shortcuts through the universe, wormholes link separate points in space-time.

Essentially, entanglement involves two particles, each occupying multiple states at once, for example simultaneously spinning clockwise and counterclockwise. But neither has a definite state until one is measured, causing the other particle to instantly assume a corresponding state. The resulting correlations between the particles are preserved even if they reside on opposite ends of the universe.

But what enables particles to communicate instantaneously—seemingly faster than the speed of light—over such vast distances?

Now an MIT physicist looking at entanglement through the lens of string theory has proposed an answer: the creation of two entangled quarks—the building blocks of matter—simultaneously gives rise to a wormhole connecting the pair.

The theoretical results bolster the relatively new and exciting idea that the laws of gravity holding together the universe may not be fundamental but arise instead from quantum entanglement.

Julian Sonner, a senior postdoc in MIT’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science and Center for Theoretical Physics, has published his results in the journal Physical Review Letters.

To see what emerges from two entangled quarks, he first created a theoretical model of quarks based on the Schwinger effect—a concept in quantum theory that makes it possible to create particles out of nothing. Once extracted from a vacuum, these particles are considered entangled.

Sonner mapped the entangled quarks onto a four-dimensional space, considered a representation of space-time. In contrast, gravity is thought to exist in the next dimension, where, according to Einstein’s laws, it acts to “bend” and shape space-time.

To see what geometry may emerge in the fifth dimension from entangled quarks in the fourth, Sonner employed the string theory concept of holographic duality, used to derive a more complex dimension from the next-lowest dimension.

He found that what emerged was a wormhole connecting the two entangled quarks, implying that the creation of quarks simultaneously creates a wormhole. More fundamentally, he says, gravity itself may be a result of entanglement. What’s more, the universe’s geometry as described by classical gravity may be a consequence of entanglement—pairs of particles strung together by tunneling wormholes.

“It’s the most basic representation yet that we have where entanglement gives rise to some sort of geometry,” Sonner says. “What happens if some of this entanglement is lost, and what happens to the geometry? There are many roads that can be pursued.”

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.