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Scientists in Spain create first ever 'magnetic wormhole' in lab

A device was designed capable of transmitting the magnetic field from one point in space to another

Kate Ng
Saturday 23 January 2016 15:00 GMT
An artist's rendition of a wormhole
An artist's rendition of a wormhole

Scientists have created a device capable of generating the first-ever 'magnetic wormhole' in a laboratory.

Researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain designed a spherical device capable of transferring a magnetic field from one point in space to another.

The team was inspired by the theoretical work of Allan Greenleaf, a professor of mathematics at the University of Rochester in New York.

Mr Greenleaf’s theory introduced the idea of an electromagnetic wormhole that could transfer electromagnetic waves through an "invisible tunnel" between two points in space.

The study, which can be found in the journal Scientific Reports, said: “However, an actual realisation has not been possible until now.

“Using magnetic metamaterials and metasurfaces, our wormhole transfers the magnetic field from one point in space to another through a path that is magnetically undetectable.”

Creating the device was problematic as the materials needed were impractical and difficult to work with, but they did already exist, which made it easier to come by.

Study co-author and doctoral candidate in physics, Jordi Prat-Camps, told “After some extensive research we realised that the concept was feasible and we developed a magnetic wormhole design that could be realised with existing magnetic materials.”

It took four months to build the actual wormhole once the final design was finished, resulting in a three-layered sphere which comprised of an iron magnet surface, a superconducting matter in the middle, and a ferromagnetic cylinder on the inside.

While the wormhole created is not a “space-time wormhole” such as those depicted in films such as sci-fi thriller Interstellar, but the Scientific American reports it is the “realisation of a futuristic ‘invisibility cloak’”.

Mr Prat-Camps said: “The wormhole we have developed is a spatial wormhole for magnetic fields.

Electromagnetic field dangers

“This means that the device transfers magnetic fields from one point in space to another point through a path… as if the transfer was made through an extra-spatial dimension.

“The design only works for magnetic fields and, thus, cannot transfer matter as gravitational wormholes would.”

The researchers believe this new technology could be applied to medical equipment that use magnetic fields, such as MRI machines.

Applying the wormhole to an MRI machine would enable doctors to take pictures of a body from a greater distance, freeing people from the enclosed space of the machine.

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