Good science fiction should start with science facts. But, of course, science is a dynamic business that includes many current mysteries and uncertainties, so there’s plenty of room to develop an imaginative theme while exploring the edges. Here are five edges a reader or writer may want to explore:
➤ It might indeed be possible to traverse a wormhole to a distant galaxy, according to a recent article. A wormhole, first imagined by Einstein and Rosen in 1935, “is a special solution to equations describing Einstein’s theory of general relativity that connects two distant points in space or time via a tunnel” . (Live Science) This has long been considered hypothetical at best and impossible at worst, but the new article can only differ:
Unfortunately, most of the leading hypotheses about wormholes suggest that they will collapse as soon as they form due to instability. However, a new theory set to be published in The Journal of Modern Physics D posits that, in fact, wormholes can remain stable enough for objects to enter one side and exit the other…
Using the Eddington-Finkelstein metric, however, Koiran was able to mathematically simulate a path for an object into a black hole and through a wormhole instead of breaking down at the event horizon.
Tony Tran“A new paper claims that yes, you could climb through a wormhole to a distant galaxy” at Futurism The document is open access. (November 16, 2021)
Visiting other galaxies would then be much closer to a possibility.
➤ Life may have started in space – at least in part:
Researchers have uncovered a new clue in the search for the origin of life by showing that peptides can form on dust under conditions like those in space. These molecules, which are one of the building blocks of all life, may therefore not have originated on our planet at all, but may have originated in cosmic molecular clouds…
Now that it is clear that not only amino acids, but also peptide chains, can be created under cosmic conditions, we may need to look not only to Earth but also further into space when searching for the origin of life.
Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena“How Life Came to Earth” at ScienceDaily (February 10, 2022) The document is open access.
In fact, even life developed from space has been suggested as a serious possibility because it circumvents the enigma of how the complexity of life on Earth could have formed in the relatively short time the planet allows. In any case, it is a viable hypothesis. An open access article from 2018 in Advances in Biophysics and Molecular Biology even argues that “the Cambrian explosion, which produced most of the basic animal life we see today, was the result of extraterrestrial viruses carried by a meteor that crashed into Earth 540 million years ago. of years”. Even octopus eggs, the researchers suggest, may have an extraterrestrial origin. Although this seems far-fetched, it must be seen in the context of the octopus’ remarkable intelligence (for an invertebrate), which bewilders expectations. Regardless, many scientists take seriously the possibility that life or the ingredients of life may have an extraterrestrial origin.
➤ Considerable discrepancy between the Standard Model for how the universe began and the number of disc galaxies raises questions about the accuracy of current models of our universe:
In the current study, Kroupa’s PhD student Moritz Haslbauer led an international research group to study the evolution of the universe using the latest supercomputer simulations. The calculations are based on the standard model of cosmology; they show which galaxies should have formed today if this theory were correct. The researchers then compared their results with what is currently probably the most accurate observational data of the real Universe visible from Earth.
“Here we encountered a significant discrepancy between prediction and reality,” says Haslbauer: “There are apparently many more flat-disc galaxies than can be explained by theory.”
University of Bonn“Too many disk galaxies than theory allows” at ScienceDaily (February 4, 2022) The document is open access. The document is open access.
The researchers offer an alternative hypothesis that dispenses with dark matter. It turns out there’s plenty of room for new assumptions and thought experiments:
Yet for all its unparalleled success in explaining the physical foundations of the universe, the Standard Model is still woefully incapable of explaining everything. He did not predict that the expansion rate of the universe would accelerate. It is silent on the imbalance of matter and antimatter. And it’s silent on dark matter, which may make up 27% of the universe.
Ross Pomeroy“Four Glaring Holes in the Standard Model of Physics” at RealClearScience (February 4, 2022)
➤ There is an Earth-like planet orbiting the star closest to our Sun.
Found by ESPRESSO, part of the Very Large Telescope Array in Chile, it is currently only a candidate planet – that is, it is awaiting confirmation from other astronomers – but researchers are confident that it will check:
Astronomers have discovered a third planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun. Called Proxima Centauri d, the newly spotted world is likely smaller than Earth and may have oceans of liquid water.
“This shows that the nearest star probably has a very rich planetary system,” says Guillem Anglada-Escudé, an astronomer at the Institute of Space Sciences in Barcelona, Spain, who led the team that in 2016 discovered the first planet to be seen orbiting Proxima Centauri.
Davide Castelvecchi“Earth-like planet spotted orbiting closest star to Sun” at Nature (February 11, 2022)
Proxima Centauri d is much smaller than Earth, at 26% of Earth’s mass. Its star is 4.25 light-years away, so we would need to reach near-light speeds to physically explore the planet in a reasonable amount of time. But it’s something to aim for and the science fiction surrounding it might be grounded in reality.
➤ And, just when we thought the world was easy to define and describe, imaginary numbers might be needed to describe reality, new studies find, even though physicists would have preferred to avoid them:
In their updated version of the classic Bell test, the physicists designed an experiment in which two independent sources (which they called S and R) would be placed between three detectors (A, B and C) in an elementary quantum network . The source S would then emit two light particles, or photons, one sent towards A and the other towards B, in an entangled state. The source R would also emit two entangled photons, sending them to nodes B and C. If the universe were described by standard quantum mechanics based on complex numbers, the photons that arrived at detectors A and C would not need be entangled, but in a quantum theory based on real numbers they would. Imaginary numbers are needed to accurately describe reality, two new studies have suggested.
To test this setup, the researchers in the second study performed an experiment in which they shot laser beams at a crystal. The energy that the laser imparted to some of the atoms in the crystals was then released in the form of entangled photons. By examining the states of the photons arriving at their three detectors, the researchers found that the states of the photons arriving at detectors A and C were not entangled, meaning that their data could only be described by a quantum theory using complex numbers.
Ben Turner“Imaginary numbers might be needed to describe reality” at Live Science (December 21, 2021) The study at Nature is freely accessible. The one to Physical examination letters requires a subscription.
Quantum theorists might not like it, but, we’re told, the two new studies show that “if quantum mechanics is correct, imaginary numbers are a necessary part of the mathematics of our universe.”
Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder puts it this way: “Either embrace complex numbers or accept that nature is even more non-local than quantum mechanics.”
Science fiction must have meaning, just as any story must have meaning. Alternate universes have to hold together, at least from the reader’s perspective. But the universe we live in now features enough hard facts that imaginative science fiction can become a valuable way to explore reality.
You can also read:
Is life from space a viable scientific hypothesis? Currently, panspermia has been classified as “plausible but not convincing”. Marks, Hössjer and Diaz discuss the issues. Famous atheist scientists have promoted panspermia because there is no plausible purely natural explanation for life on Earth that would make it unnecessary.
Scientific article: could octopuses be aliens from space? It is the intelligence of the octopus that makes these usual theses float in the scientific literature. There is no simple way to account for the intelligence of the eight-armed invertebrate. So even if we rule out an extraterrestrial origin, we are still faced with a mystery.