Wormholes, or Einstein-Rosen Bridges if you want to put on your official science hat, do not exist outside theory and actors poking holes in pieces of paper mid-exposition. But with some fancy materials and magnetic footwork, researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona say they’ve created a wormhole-like phenomenon for the first time, mostly from the point of view of magnets. Rather than linking two locations from a gravitational perspective — no traveling through history to change the outcome of soccer games or whatever it is that motivates Barcelonan physicists to muck about with space-time — it is the magnetic field that seems to disappear and reappear at separate points in space.
The scientists say they’ve created a tunnel through which the magnetic field vanishes, essentially giving rise to two separate poles (which aren’t supposed to exist). If you think back to high school physics, magnets have a North and South pole — but pass a magnet through a supercooled sphere layered with ferromagnets (what the scientists called a “metasurface”), and what you see are two discrete monopoles; it appears as if the magnetic field invisibly passes through an additional dimension, the researchers write in Scientific Reports.
Mathematically speaking, the monopole is more illusion than actual magnet wormhole, University of Helsinki’s Matti Lassas told Smithsonian Magazine. But even the illusion of separation could have applications for medical devices like magnetic resonance imagining — you could hypothetically have the magnetic source far from patients, rather than stuffing people into a tube to look at their guts.