A well-known difficulty in modern physics today is that our two of the best theories to understand the Universe - quantum mechanics and general relativity - work perfectly well in their own realm, but when you try to relate them, the maths just doesn’t work out. But that seems to change as a Stanford theoretical physicist has just proposed a new equation that suggests the key to ultimately linking the two could be found in mysterious space-time tunnels known as wormholes.

You might be thinking that it would require a lot of equations and stuff in order to add these two theories but the equation is misleadingly simple: ER = EPR. The ER refers to Einstein and Nathan Rosen and denotes a 1935 paper they wrote together explaining wormholes, known theoretically as Einstein-Rosen bridges. Whereas, EPR represent Einstein, Rosen and Boris Podolsky, who co-wrote further research paper that year explaining quantum entanglement. So the letters in the above equation rather than numerical values represent the names of some key scientists in theoretical physics. So what does that mean?

In 2013, physicist Leonard Susskind Juan Maldacena suggested that the two papers could be referring to the same thing - something that no one else in that specific area had previously well thought-out, including Albert Einstein himself. Now Susskind is back to discuss the effects if he’s really right. Now let’s analyze it. As implied by Einstein’s famous theory of general relativity, wormholes are like tunnels among two places in the Universe. There aren’t just entrances to different places but also different times. Theoretically, if you enter one side of a wormhole, you’d come out from the other side straightaway, even if it happened to be on the exact opposite side of the cosmos.

Alternatively: Quantum entanglement describes the way that two particles can interrelate in such a strange way that they become inevitably linked, and basically 'share' an existence. This means that whatever happens to one particle will unswervingly and will straightway affect the other - even if it’s many light-years away. Okay, now let’s try combining these two. In this recent research paper, Susskind proposes a set-up where hypothetical Alice and Bob both take entangled particles - Alice takes one participant of each pair, and Bob takes the exact other, and they go in opposite directions of the Universe in their theoretical hypersonic jets.

Now once Alics and Bob are in their distinct places, Alice and Bob knock their particles together with such rich force, they generate two different black holes. Susskind says the consequence is two entangled black holes on opposite sides of the Universe, linked in the mid by a massive wormhole. Tom Siegfried over at Science News said "If the equation ER = EPR is true, a wormhole will bond those black holes; entanglement, therefore, can be explained using the geometry of wormholes. Even more fascinating ... is the probability that two entangled subatomic particles alone are themselves connected somehow by a kind of quantum wormhole. Since wormholes are contortions of space-time geometry proposed by Einstein’s gravitational equations - detecting them with quantum entanglement would forge a bond between gravity and quantum mechanics."

Is Susskind truly right about this? It is hard to say just yet since he has published his paper on pre-press blog arXiv.org to be openly analyzed by his peers. He writes "To me it appears obvious that if equation ER = EPR is true, it is a very big deal, and it must have effects on the basics and interpretation of quantum mechanics, quantum mechanics and gravity are far more closely related than we (or at least I) had ever thought", he writes, assuming that he is right.

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