In physics, a wormhole is a hypothetical topological feature of spacetime that is essentially a 'shortcut' through space and time. A wormhole has at least two mouths which are connected to a single throat. If the wormhole is traversable, matter can 'travel' from one mouth to the other by passing through the throat. While there is no observational evidence for wormholes, spacetimes containing wormholes are known to be valid solutions in general relativity.

The basic notion of an intra-universe wormhole is that it is a compact region of spacetime whose boundary is topologically trivial but whose interior is not simply connected. Formalizing this idea leads to definitions such as the following, taken from Matt Visser's Lorentzian Wormholes:

If a Lorentzian spacetime contains a compact region Ù, and if the topology of Ù is of the form Ù ~ R x Ã", where Ã" is a three-manifold of nontrivial topology, whose boundary has topology of the form dÃ" ~ S², and if, furthermore, the hypersurfaces Ã" are all spacelike, then the region Ù contains a quasipermanent intra-universe wormhole.

Characterizing inter-universe wormholes is more difficult. For example, one can imagine a 'baby' universe connected to its 'parent' by a narrow 'umbilicus'. One might like to regard the umbilicus as the throat of a wormhole, but the spacetime is simply connected.


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