Sabine Hossenfelder already has this covered, but I wanted to add a few comments about this week’s hype, a new article in Quanta magazine by Philip Ball entitled Wormholes Reveal a Way to Manipulate Black Hole Information in the Lab (based on this paper). It’s the latest in a long tradition of bogus claims that studying relatively simple quantum systems is equivalent to studying string theory/quantum gravity. For an example from ten years ago, see here. The nonsensical idea back then (which got a lot of attention) was that somehow studying four qubits would “test string theory”.
A first comment would be that this is just profoundly depressing, because Ball is one of the best and most sensible science writers around (see my review of his excellent recent book on quantum mechanics) and Quanta magazine is about the the best semi-popular science publication there is. If this article were appearing in any one of the well-known examples of publications that traffic in misleading sensationalism, it wouldn’t be surprising and would best be just ignored.
Hossenfelder has pointed out one problem with the whole idea (we don’t live in AdS space), but a more basic problem is the obvious one pointed out by one of the first commenters at Quanta:
In the end, if an experiment is performed based on standard quantum mechanics, and verifies standard quantum mechanics as expected, then it is irrelevant that this aspect of standard quantum mechanics might be analogous to a vaguely-formulated and incomplete speculative idea about spacetime emergence — nor can it provide any experimental support whatsoever for that idea.
I understand that, for science journalists hearing that a large group of well-known physicists from Google, Stanford, Caltech, Princeton, Maryland and Amsterdam has figured out how to study quantum gravity in the lab (by teleporting things from one place to another via traversable wormholes!!), it’s almost impossible to resist the idea that this is something worth writing about. Please try.
Update: Philip Ball responds here.
Update: Commenter Anonyrat points out that the Atlantic is republishing this piece, as A Tiny, Lab-Size Wormhole Could Shatter Our Sense of Reality: How scientists plan to set up two black holes and a wormhole on an ordinary tabletop.
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