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Wormhole travel as envisioned by Les Bossinas for NASA
Artist's impression of wormhole travel
Created byEinsteinRosen
GenreScience fiction
In-universe information
ClassificationPseudo-scientific fiction
First proposed1916

A wormhole is a postulated method, within the general theory of relativity, of moving from one point in space to another without crossing the space between.[1][2][3][4] Wormholes are a popular feature of science fiction as they allow faster-than-light interstellar travel within human timescales.[5][6][7]

A related concept in various fictional genres is the portable hole. While there's no clear demarcation between the two, this article deals with fictional, but pseudo-scientific, treatments of faster-than-light travel through space.

A jumpgate is a fictional device able to create an Einstein–Rosen bridge portal (or wormhole), allowing fast travel between two points in space.

In franchises

Stargate franchise

See also: Stargate and Stargate (device)

Wormholes are the principal means of space travel in the Stargate movie and the spin-off television series, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe, to the point where it was called the franchise that is "far and away most identified with wormholes".[8]

The central plot device of the programs is an ancient transportation network consisting of the ring-shaped devices known as Stargates, which generate artificial wormholes that allow one-way matter transmission and two-way radio communication between gates when the correct spatial coordinates are "dialed". However, for some reason not yet explained, the water-like event horizon breaks down the matter and converts it into energy for transport through the wormhole, restoring it into its original state at the destination. This would explain why electromagnetic energy can travel both ways — it doesn't have to be converted.

The one-way rule may be caused by the Stargates themselves: as a Gate may only be capable of creating an event-horizon that either breaks down or reconstitutes matter, but not both. It does serve as a very useful plot device: when one wants to return to the other end one must close the original wormhole and "redial", which means one needs access to the dialing device. The one-way nature of the Stargates helps to defend the gate from unwanted incursions.[9] Also, Stargates can sustain an artificial wormhole for only 38 minutes. It's possible to keep it active for a longer period, but it would take immense amounts of energy. The wormholes generated by the Stargates are based on the misconception that wormholes in 3D space have 2D (circular) event horizons, but a proper visualization of a wormhole in 3D space would be a spherical event horizon.[10][11]

Babylon 5 and Crusade

In television series Babylon 5 and its spin-off series Crusade, jump points are artificial wormholes that serve as entrances and exits to hyperspace, allowing for faster-than-light travel. Jump points can either be created by larger ships (battleships, destroyers, etc.) or by standalone jumpgates.[11]


The television series Farscape features an American astronaut who accidentally gets shot through a wormhole and ends up in a distant part of the universe, and also features the use of wormholes to reach other universes (or "unrealized realities") and as weapons of mass destruction.[12][13]

Wormholes are the cause of John Crichton's presence in the far reaches of our galaxy and the focus of an arms race of different alien species attempting to obtain Crichton's perceived ability to control them. Crichton's brain was secretly implanted with knowledge of wormhole technology by one of the last members of an ancient alien species. Later, an alien interrogator discovers the existence of the hidden information and thus Crichton becomes embroiled in interstellar politics and warfare while being pursued by all sides (as they want the ability to use wormholes as weapons). Unable to directly access the information, Crichton is able to subconsciously foretell when and where wormholes will form and is able to safely travel through them (while all attempts by others are fatal). By the end of the series, he eventually works out some of the science and is able to create his own wormholes (and shows his pursuers the consequences of a wormhole weapon).[13][14]

Star Trek franchise

Doctor Who

It is discussed that the Time Vortex was created by the Time Lords (an ancient and powerful race of human-looking aliens that can control space and time; the protagonist is one of them) to allow travel of TARDISes (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) to any point in spacetime.[31][32]

Marvel Cinematic Universe

In literature

In some earlier analyses of general relativity, the event horizon of a black hole was believed to form an Einstein-Rosen bridge.[42][43]

Title Author Year Description
"The Meteor Girl" Jack Williamson 1931 In the short story the protagonist creates a "distortion of space-time coordinates" from the effect scientific equipment has on a recently crashed meteor – which is energized with a mystery force. He uses the window in space-time and his knowledge of Einstein's relativity equations to rescue his fiancée from a shipwreck four thousand miles away and twelve hours and 40 minutes in the future.[44][45]
The Forever War Joe Haldeman 1974 In the classic war novel interstellar travel is achieved through gateways located at collapsars. This is an early word for a black hole, and the novel refers to the (now obsolete) theory that black holes may contain Einstein–Rosen Bridges.[46][47]
Contact Carl Sagan 1985 In the novel a crew of five humans make a trip to the center of the Milky Way galaxy through a transportation system consisting of a series of wormholes.[48] The novel is notable in that Kip Thorne advised Sagan on the possibilities of wormholes.[49][50] Likewise, wormholes are also central to the film version.[51]
Vorkosigan Saga Lois McMaster Bujold 1986 In the series naturally occurring wormholes form the basis for interstellar travel. The world of Barrayar was isolated from the rest of human civilization for centuries after the connecting wormhole collapsed, until a new route was discovered, and control over wormhole routes and jumps is the frequent subject of political plots and military campaigns.[52][53]
Xeelee series Stephen Baxter 1989 In the fictional world human beings use wormholes to traverse the solar system.[54] A wormhole is also used in this universe to put a probe into the sun (the wormhole is utilized to cool the probe, throwing out solar material fast enough to keep the probe at operating temperatures). In his book Ring, the Xeelee construct a gigantic wormhole into a different universe which they use to escape the onslaught of the Photino birds.[55][self-published source?]
Honorverse series David Weber 1994 In this fictional universe, wormholes have an important impact in the economy of the different star nations, as it greatly reduces travel time between two different points. The Star Kingdom of Manticore, to which the main character belongs, is a powerful economic entity thanks to the Manticore Junction, a set of six (a seventh being discovered during the course of the books) wormholes, close to Manticore's binary system, that ensure much travel goes through their system. It also can play a role in the military side of things, but usage of the wormhole destabilizes it for a time proportional to the size of the starship using it.[56]
His Dark Materials Philip Pullman 1995 Wormholes are an immensely important plot device in the trilogy, with one first discovered by protagonist Will Parry, when fleeing from his home after an accidental murder; he finds a window in the air in an Oxford street which leads to a totally different universe, the town of Cittagazze. In the rest of the trilogy, the other main characters use wormholes in the form of these extradimensional windows in order to travel "between worlds" and thus speed their journeys.[57][better source needed][58]
Einstein's Bridge John G. Cramer 1997 The novel features travel via wormholes between alternate universes.[59][60][61]
Diaspora Greg Egan 1997 The novel features scientifically well founded depictions of wormholes.[62][63]
Timeline Michael Crichton 1999 In the novel traversable wormholes are used for time travel along with the theory of quantum foam.[64][65]
The Light of Other Days Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter 2000 The novel discusses the problems which arise when a wormhole is used for faster-than-light communication. In the novel the authors suggest that wormholes can join points distant either in time or in space and postulate a world completely devoid of privacy as wormholes are increasingly used to spy on anyone at any time in the world's history.[66][67]
Commonwealth Saga Peter F. Hamilton 2002 The series describes how wormhole technology could be used to explore, colonize and connect to other worlds without having to resort to traditional travel via starships. This technology is the basis of the formation of the titular Intersolar Commonwealth, and is used so extensively that it is possible to ride trains between the planets of the Commonwealth.[68]
The Algebraist Iain M. Banks 2004 In the novel traversable wormholes can be artificially created and are a central factor/resource in the stratification of space-faring civilizations.[69][70][71]
House of Suns Alastair Reynolds 2008 The novel features a wormhole to Andromeda. One main character also alludes to other wormhole mouths leading to galaxies in the Local Group and beyond. In the books, all wormhole-linked galaxies are cloaked by Absences, which prevent information escaping the galaxy and thus protecting causality from being violated by FTL travel.[72]
Palimpsest Charles Stross 2009 An original story in the 2009 collection Wireless: The Essential Charles Stross – which won the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Novella[73] – the protagonist creates and uses temporary wormholes to travel through both space and time.[74]
"Bright Moment" Daniel Marcus 2011 The short story includes a wormhole for interstellar travel, which can be collapsed to what the story calls a singularity by a multi Gigaton thermonuclear explosion. The story first appeared in F&SF, and was later narrated on the Escape Pod podcast, episode 421.[75][76]
The Expanse James S.A Corey 2012 A virus shot at the Solar System millions of years ago constructs a ring in space that creates a wormhole to another dimension which is a "hub" of 1373 wormholes that lead to other solar systems.[77]
Waste of Space Gina Damico 2017 This young-adult novel involves a secretive group of scientists dubbed NASAW (revealed at the end of the book to stand for the 'National Association for the Search of Atmospheric Wormholes') whose experiments create a wormhole that a protagonist travels through.[78][better source needed][79]

In music

Wormholes in music
Album/Song Description
Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator On Ayreon's album, Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator, a soul is sucked into a black hole in the song "Into the Black Hole", goes through a wormhole in the song "Through the Wormhole", and leaves from a white hole in the song "Out of the White Hole".[80]
Crack the Skye Mastodon's concept album Crack the Skye deals with a paraplegic child sucked into a wormhole.[81][82]

In games

Wormholes in video games
Game Description
Portal and Portal 2 The games Portal and Portal 2 are centered around the "Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device", also known as the "Portal Gun", a gun-shaped device that can create a temporary wormhole between two surfaces.[83][84][85]
Space Rogue The science fiction computer game Space Rogue featured the use of technologically harnessed wormholes called "Malir gates" as mechanisms for interstellar travel. Navigation through the space within wormholes was a part of gameplay and had its own perils.[86]
Freelancer Wormholes are also seen in the computer game Freelancer, commonly referred as "jump holes". They are supposed to be black hole-like formations with ultra-high gravity amounts, that work like 'portals' for players to travel instantly between different star systems. The game also features "jump gates", which are described as devices capable of generating an artificial jump hole.[87][88]
Darkspace In the Massively Multiplayer Online Game Darkspace, a player-versus-player starship combat game, players can create short-term stable wormholes to traverse the game's universe instantly, rather than use the game's concept of FTL travel to move from point A to point B. Wormhole Generation Devices are only available on ships with higher rank requirements, usually Vice Admiral or above, and are most common on Space Stations.[89]
Orion's Arm In the on-line fictional collaborative world-building project "Orion's Arm", wormholes are used for communication and transport between the millions of colonies in the local part of the Milky way Galaxy. In an attempt to make the physics of the wormhole travel at least semi-plausible, large amounts of ANEC-violating exotic energy are required to maintain the holes, which are nevertheless large objects which must be maintained on the outermost reaches of the planetary systems concerned.[90][91]
X computer game series In the X computer game series by Egosoft, wormholes were established using Jump Gates, created by the Old Ones. These Jump Gates connected to many systems but not the Solar System. Humanity advanced to the technological level to create Jump Gate technology and discovered the already established gate network. Hundreds of years after cutting themselves off from the network to escape the Xenon, they created a Jumpdrive, allowing for travel between systems not connected directly via a gate. Different versions of Jumpdrives emerged with some being limited but stable, others being dangerously random.[92][93]
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Phazon-based organic meteors called Leviathans create wormholes to travel from Phaaze (the living planet they are "born" in) to other planets. They do this to "corrupt" the planet and any beings able to survive the Phazon into Phazon-based creatures. The planet would then progress into changing its environment until it becomes another planet like Phaaze. The Galactic Federation took control of one with Samus Aran's assistance, and used it to travel to and destroy Phaaze.[94][95]
Far Gate Wormholes are used frequently in Far Gate as a means of transporting spacecraft across interstellar distances.[96][97]
Star Trek: Shattered Universe In Star Trek: Shattered Universe, while in the Mirror Universe, the USS Excelsior (NCC-2000) encounters a wormhole similar to the one the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 in Star Trek: The Motion Picture the player must defend Excelsior from on coming asteroids and pursuing Starships of the Terran Empire, the evil Mirror Universe counterpart of the United Federation of Planets, until the ship can exit the wormhole.[98]
Crysis 3 In Crysis 3, the Alpha Ceph combines its energy with the energy of a C.E.L.L. orbital strike to create an Einstein–Rosen Bridge, thus allowing a Stage Three Ceph Invasion Force to be rapidly transported from Messier 33 to Earth in a matter of minutes.[99][100]
EVE Online Stargates, also known as jump gates, are the primary means of interstellar travel for players in EVE Online. In-universe, the exact way in which jump gates function is unknown: "While functions of jump gates are well known from a theoretical point of view, there still remain a lot of unanswered questions about the fundamentals of dimensional inter-connections."[101][102] In 2009, the expansion Apocrypha added wormholes to the game, which differ from stargates by being less stable and more random and adding an entire new dimension to the game.[103][104][105][106]
Stellaris The science-fiction strategy game Stellaris features wormholes spread throughout the galaxy. The player may research technology to stabilize wormholes and travel through them to reach a linked wormhole elsewhere in the galaxy.[107][108]
Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars One of the three main factions, the Scrin, can construct a "Rift Generator", their in-game superweapon, which creates a wormhole that pulls in nearby units to deep space.[109] Additionally, The Scrin have an ability to create wormholes to instantly teleport units around the battlefield, so long as they have a building called "Signal Transmitter".

In television and film fiction

Film/episode Description
The Triangle The 2005 three-part US-British-German science fiction miniseries The Triangle uses a wormhole to explain mysterious disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle.[110][111]
Invader Zim In an episode of the animated series Invader Zim wherein Zim, in order to get rid of Dib and his horrible classmates once and for all, utilizes a wormhole to send Dib and the other Skoolkids on a one-way busride to an alternate dimension containing a room with a moose. However, Dib discovers Zim's plan, and taking advantage of a fork in the wormhole, is able to transport the bus back to Earth.[112][113]
Event Horizon In the movie Event Horizon, the titular ship is designed to create an artificial wormhole. However, the wormhole doesn't lead to anywhere in the known universe, but to an alternate, horrific reality.[114][115][116]
Fringe In the television series Fringe, the main storyline is the investigation of an unusual series of events and scientific experiments called the Pattern. In the second-season episode "Peter" it's revealed that the root cause of the Pattern was an incident in 1985 where Dr. Walter Bishop opened a wormhole into an alternate universe so that he may cure the alternate version of his terminally ill son, Peter (who had died in our universe). By crossing the wormhole, Dr. Bishop disrupted the fundamental laws of nature and weakened the fabric of space-time, causing incalculable destruction in the alternate universe and forcing them to seek a way to repair the damage caused and save their existence.[117][118][119]
Power Rangers Time Force In Power Rangers Time Force, artificial Temporal Wormholes were used extensively for the delivery of the Time Fliers to travel to the past to aid the Rangers and was also used by Wes, Eric and Commandocon to travel to prehistoric times to recover the Quantasaurus Rex. In Power Rangers SPD, in the episode Wormhole, Gruumm and later the SPD Rangers used a "Temporal Wormole" to travel from 2025 to 2004 to battle with the Dino Thunder Rangers in early 21st century Reefside.[120]
"Vanishing Act" (The Outer Limits episode) The 21st episode of the 1995 Canadian science fiction TV series The Outer Limits, "Vanishing Act", tells the story of a man who is abducted by an alien race through wormholes and later returned to his family every ten years.[121]
Sliders In the FOX/Sci-Fi series Sliders, a method is found to create a wormhole that allows travel not between distant points but between different parallel universes;[122][123] objects or people that travel through the wormhole begin and end in the same location geographically (e.g. if one leaves San Francisco, one will arrive in an alternate San Francisco) and chronologically (if it is 1999 at the origin point, so it is at the destination, at least by the currently accepted calendar on our Earth.)[124] Early in the series, the wormhole is referred to by the name "Einstein–Rosen–Podolsky bridge," apparently a merging of the concepts of an Einstein–Rosen bridge and the Einstein–Podolsky–Rosen paradox, a thought-experiment in quantum mechanics.[125][self-published source?][126][self-published source?] This series presumes that we exist as part of a multiverse and asks what might have resulted had major or minor events in history occurred differently; the wormholes in the series allow access to the alternate universes in which the series is set.
Déjà Vu The 2006 film Déjà Vu is based on a phenomenon caused by a wormhole, specifically referred to as an Einstein–Rosen Bridge.[127][128]
The Lost Room The Lost Room is a science fiction television miniseries that aired on the Sci Fi Channel in the United States. The main character is allowed to travel around the planet when using a special key together with any kind of door, leading him to random locations. The key is part of a series of different artifacts, coming from an alternate reality.[129][130]
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is a 1989 American science fiction–comedy buddy film and the first film in the Bill & Ted franchise in which two metalhead slackers travel through a temporal wormhole in order to assemble a menagerie of historical figures for their high school history presentation.[131][132]
Primeval: New World In the Primeval spin-off series Primeval: New World, Lt. Kenneth Leeds theorizes that the anomalies, the central plot point of the series which allow dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures into the present day, are Einstein–Rosen Bridges after discovering the Spaghetti Junction in the Season 1 finale. However, this seems unlikely since they do not exist within black holes and do not allow travel across distances beyond the Earth yet, only through time.[133][134]
Rick and Morty In the animated show, the main protagonist Rick Sanchez uses what's referred to as a 'portal gun' as a plot device to travel to different universes, dimensions and realities. Despite being described by Adult Swim as its "most scientifically accurate animated comedy", the rules of inter-dimensional travel are usually played for laughs, often spoofing common science fiction tropes and popular culture approaches to the multiverse.[135][136][137]
Voltron: Legendary Defender In the animated show, the main way of travel in space are Wormholes, created by the power of Altean Magic. The show's protagonist use wormholes to escape dangerous situation or to fly away from a fight.[138]
Interstellar In the 2014 film Interstellar, scientists at NASA discover a wormhole orbiting the planet of Saturn, and send a team to travel through it to a distant galaxy in order to find a new home for the human race before Earth is unfit for life. The wormhole takes them halfway across the observable universe to another star system, containing a huge black hole named Gargantua. This new system has three candidate planets for re-seeding the human race, two of which orbit the black hole. In the movie, the wormhole is implied to have been placed there by future humans for the present humans to find a new home. The wormhole is described as the surface of a ball.[139][140][141][142][143]
The Flash In the CW Network Superhero sci-fi, wormholes play a vital role in the series.[144][145][146][147]
Strange Days at Blake Holsey High The television program features a wormhole that can lead to either the future or the past.[148]
Futurama In the final scene of the direct-to-video movie, Into the Wild Green Yonder, the series protagonists travel through a wormhole.[149] The movie also features black holes as part of Leo Wong's golf course.[150] In the episode following the movie, Rebirth, Professor Farnsworth names the wormhole as the Panama Wormhole, after the Panama Canal, calling it as "Earth's central channel for shipping."[151] The characters also travel through a wormhole back to the year 1947 and back to the future in the December 8, 2001, episode, Roswell That Ends Well.[152]
Mirakel In 2020, two Swedish scientists, Vilgot and Anna-Karin, develop an artificial wormhole (also known as an artificial black hole) in an attempt to control the electricity market. It malfunctions and instead causes two girls, Mira in 2020 and Rakel in 1920, to travel through time and swap bodies with each other.[153]

See also


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Further reading