Our universe resides in the center of a black hole, this theory claims
Wormholes might very well be a key feature to our cosmos.
What’s our position in the universe? Some astronomers believe that the relative emptiness in our location in space may be why we haven’t found other intelligent life yet. It may even go beyond that. One theory states that our universe is actually trapped inside a giant black hole, which itself is part of a much larger cosmos.
It all centers around a different theory of what exactly a black hole is. The general understanding is nothing can escape a black hole’s intense gravity, not even light. Called the black hole information paradox, it’s thought that even the information about an object that gets sucked in vanishes into oblivion. But therein lies a problem.
This understanding violates a certain rule in quantum mechanics known as “unitarity,” which states that information can never be completely lost. Some trace of it will always remain. So how can scientists get over the hump? One way, according to a small, plucky group of scientists, is that our universe sits in the center of a black hole. This is known as the ER = EPR conjecture. How does that make sense?
Before the Big Bang, there was what was called the singularity, an infinitely hot, immeasurably dense point containing all the matter in the universe. This exploded and spread out in all directions, creating the expanding cosmos we see today. One problem though, many physicists see this as impossible.
Could a black hole be a portal to another universe? Credit: Les Bossinas (Cortez III Service Corp.), 1998, NASA.
Starting in the 1960s, a small band of physicists have been considering a Big Bounce rather than a Big Bang. In addition to curved space-time, there’s a thing called torsion, which takes into consideration the spin of particles. On the macroscale, this results in a twisting of the fabric of space. Some scientists believe torsion might even be able to counteract gravity. As the universe spreads out, in this view, more energy is used up and more matter enters into the universe, which is distributed evenly.
The more matter created the greater the force of gravity, which at some point begins to compress the universe. The force of torsion however prevents total collapse at a certain point, causing the cosmos to bounce back. It’s like a rubber ball that’s been compressed and released. This is what physicists call the Big Bounce. There may have even been more than one. Each bounce would create a new black hole, actually a wormhole, which acts as a gateway into another universe or another part of our own. This means there’s an even greater universe must exist, which is inside ours.
The larger universe could be checked with black holes stretching on and on, or even have layers of them--like Russian dolls, depending how many times this has occurred, making for a very strange multiverse indeed. That’s a far different theory than the "space-time singularities" Einstein predicted inhabit the center of black holes.
We’ve heard of black holes but white holes? Credit: Wingwing 3, Flickr.
Besides resolving the issue of the singularity, this theory can also help us understand why there’s so little antimatter in our universe. There should’ve been equal amounts of matter and antimatter created after the Big Bang. But despite a multitude of careful observations, antimatter is surprisingly rare.
One theory is that slightly more matter was created than antimatter. The matter and antimatter atoms were attracted to one another, cancelling each other out, leaving only this minority of matter left over. Trouble is, no one can account for why there’d be more matter than antimatter.
With the ER = EPR conjecture, while matter decays into electrons and quarks, which are abundant in our universe, antimatter decays into the mysterious force known as dark energy, which is thought to push galaxies on, accounting for the ever-accelerating rate of cosmic expansion.
Quantum entanglement could be explained through the ER=EPR conjecture. Credit: YouTube.
So black holes would be wormhole systems, according to the conjecture. A black hole would suck things in at one end, while a white hole would push them out the other, and into a new universe or another point in our own. Juan Maldacena of Princeton and Leonard Susskind of Stanford first proposed the conjecture in 2013. The theory marries quantum teleportation with wormholes. Such teleportation occurs when two particles become entangled. This occurs when two particles interact and develop the same spin. Their interaction somehow mysteriously connects them.
Even if one is on the other side of the universe, they’re still inter-related, and that particle can travel to its brethren across the entire expanse faster than the speed of light. How does it work? This surprisingly simple ER=EPR conjecture could be the answer, and as such, help heal the rift between quantum mechanics and general relativity, leading to the much sought after unified theory of everything.
The tunnel between a black and a white hole is called the throat. In a 2017 paper published in the journal High Energy Physics-Theory, Ping Gao and Daniel Jafferis of Harvard and Aron Wall of Stanford, built upon the ER = EPR conjecture. They’ve proven mathematically that if two black holes were lined up in just the right way, their unique connection, down to the quantum level, would sustain the throat of the wormhole and keep it open.
To learn more about black holes and white holes, click here:
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Experts argue the jaws of an ancient European ape reveal a key human ancestor.
- The jaw bones of an 8-million-year-old ape were discovered at Nikiti, Greece, in the '90s.
- Researchers speculate it could be a previously unknown species and one of humanity's earliest evolutionary ancestors.
- These fossils may change how we view the evolution of our species.
Homo sapiens have been on earth for 200,000 years — give or take a few ten-thousand-year stretches. Much of that time is shrouded in the fog of prehistory. What we do know has been pieced together by deciphering the fossil record through the principles of evolutionary theory. Yet new discoveries contain the potential to refashion that knowledge and lead scientists to new, previously unconsidered conclusions.
A set of 8-million-year-old teeth may have done just that. Researchers recently inspected the upper and lower jaw of an ancient European ape. Their conclusions suggest that humanity's forebearers may have arisen in Europe before migrating to Africa, potentially upending a scientific consensus that has stood since Darwin's day.
Rethinking humanity's origin story
The frontispiece of Thomas Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863) sketched by natural history artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
As reported in New Scientist, the 8- to 9-million-year-old hominin jaw bones were found at Nikiti, northern Greece, in the '90s. Scientists originally pegged the chompers as belonging to a member of Ouranopithecus, an genus of extinct Eurasian ape.
David Begun, an anthropologist at the University of Toronto, and his team recently reexamined the jaw bones. They argue that the original identification was incorrect. Based on the fossil's hominin-like canines and premolar roots, they identify that the ape belongs to a previously unknown proto-hominin.
The researchers hypothesize that these proto-hominins were the evolutionary ancestors of another European great ape Graecopithecus, which the same team tentatively identified as an early hominin in 2017. Graecopithecus lived in south-east Europe 7.2 million years ago. If the premise is correct, these hominins would have migrated to Africa 7 million years ago, after undergoing much of their evolutionary development in Europe.
Begun points out that south-east Europe was once occupied by the ancestors of animals like the giraffe and rhino, too. "It's widely agreed that this was the found fauna of most of what we see in Africa today," he told New Scientists. "If the antelopes and giraffes could get into Africa 7 million years ago, why not the apes?"
He recently outlined this idea at a conference of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
It's worth noting that Begun has made similar hypotheses before. Writing for the Journal of Human Evolution in 2002, Begun and Elmar Heizmann of the Natural history Museum of Stuttgart discussed a great ape fossil found in Germany that they argued could be the ancestor (broadly speaking) of all living great apes and humans.
"Found in Germany 20 years ago, this specimen is about 16.5 million years old, some 1.5 million years older than similar species from East Africa," Begun said in a statement then. "It suggests that the great ape and human lineage first appeared in Eurasia and not Africa."
Migrating out of Africa
In the Descent of Man, Charles Darwin proposed that hominins descended out of Africa. Considering the relatively few fossils available at the time, it is a testament to Darwin's astuteness that his hypothesis remains the leading theory.
Since Darwin's time, we have unearthed many more fossils and discovered new evidence in genetics. As such, our African-origin story has undergone many updates and revisions since 1871. Today, it has splintered into two theories: the "out of Africa" theory and the "multi-regional" theory.
The out of Africa theory suggests that the cradle of all humanity was Africa. Homo sapiens evolved exclusively and recently on that continent. At some point in prehistory, our ancestors migrated from Africa to Eurasia and replaced other subspecies of the genus Homo, such as Neanderthals. This is the dominant theory among scientists, and current evidence seems to support it best — though, say that in some circles and be prepared for a late-night debate that goes well past last call.
The multi-regional theory suggests that humans evolved in parallel across various regions. According to this model, the hominins Homo erectus left Africa to settle across Eurasia and (maybe) Australia. These disparate populations eventually evolved into modern humans thanks to a helping dollop of gene flow.
Of course, there are the broad strokes of very nuanced models, and we're leaving a lot of discussion out. There is, for example, a debate as to whether African Homo erectus fossils should be considered alongside Asian ones or should be labeled as a different subspecies, Homo ergaster.
Proponents of the out-of-Africa model aren't sure whether non-African humans descended from a single migration out of Africa or at least two major waves of migration followed by a lot of interbreeding.
Did we head east or south of Eden?
Not all anthropologists agree with Begun and his team's conclusions. As noted by New Scientist, it is possible that the Nikiti ape is not related to hominins at all. It may have evolved similar features independently, developing teeth to eat similar foods or chew in a similar manner as early hominins.
Ultimately, Nikiti ape alone doesn't offer enough evidence to upend the out of Africa model, which is supported by a more robust fossil record and DNA evidence. But additional evidence may be uncovered to lend further credence to Begun's hypothesis or lead us to yet unconsidered ideas about humanity's evolution.
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