Last year we looked at multiverse theory and the highly speculative — but very real — science behind what has become a pop culture phenomenon. It isn’t just “Stranger Things” anymore. Interdimensional travel, and the portals that might allow it, are everywhere these days.
So, how to open a portal to another dimension?
When the Going Gets Weird, the Weird Get Going
On one level, it turns out to be easier than you might think. Simply open your browser and search for “interdimensional portals” or “multiverse portals,” or whatever similar phrase comes to mind. The search results alone will take you to some seriously strange places.
Instructions on how to make a multiverse portal are, sadly, a bit disappointing (they’re for a computer game module). But interdimensional portals also turn out to be a subject of interest for many websites dealing with religion and mysticism.
And, according to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, London has gained a reputation as the Grand Central Station — or at least the Clapham Junction — of interdimensional travel. Portals are popping up all over town, and a mysterious blog is keeping tabs on them.
Inevitably, too, as Vulture informs us, interdimensional travel in movies is getting bashed as the lazy screenwriter’s way to avoid coming up with a fresh plot.
The Science: Abstract
So what does the science say, and how does the science of interdimensional travel stack up to the Upside Down in “Stranger Things?”
As cosmologist Lisa Randall told Smithsonian, parallel universes may in fact exist in other dimensions, separated from our own familiar surroundings by distances vastly smaller than the size of an atomic nucleus. But as Randall cautions, “It’s not just a carbon copy of our universe, which a lot of people think of when they hear that phrase.”
The particular corners of the multiverse that Randall is exploring may interact with our own universe only through gravity. Such a universe probably does not have bad guy versions of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, but its existence, and “leakage” between universes, could help explain some basic facts about our own universe, such as why gravity is so much weaker than other basic forces of nature, like magnetism.
Start With a Handy Black Hole
Understanding gravity could be helpful in all sorts of ways, but what we really want is adventure portals that we can go through. And, says National Science Foundation physicist Gaurav Khanna at Futurism.com, “That fantasy may be closer to reality than previously imagined.”
Using black holes as the solution for how to open multiverse portals has been popular in science fiction for decades, but there was a complication. The intense gravity of a black hole, and resulting tidal forces at its event horizon, would squish people and spaceships into something far finer than jelly.
But it turns out, says Khanna, that this is not always the case. If a black hole is large enough, and spinning rapidly, passing through the event horizon might hardly be noticeable. He compares it to passing your hand rapidly over a candle flame; you barely feel a moment’s heat.
This still leaves would-be interdimensional explorers with the challenge of finding a suitable black hole. Alas, they will probably need to go many light-years in order to reach it, far more difficult than, say, a trip to London.
No one ever said that interdimensional travel would be easy. What is remarkable, though — in fact, what is astonishing — is that scientists, not just science fiction writers, are starting to think and talk about it, which is enough to start us thinking about travel plans.