For science-fiction fans, wormholes are natures shortcuts which aid futuristic starships and their fictional passengers in traveling between two vastly distant points in deep space. In the real world of astrophysics, a wormhole is a hypothetical topological feature of spacetimea "shortcut" through space and time. Picture a flat sheet of printer paper. Place two pencil points on the sheet which are 6 inches apart. Hold the sheet and bend it in a u-shape so the two pencil points are one-inch opposite each other. Now imagine a small thread (tunnel) connecting those two points; voila, you have the basic idea of how a wormhole in space is supposed to work. You can also picture a worms hole burrowed through an appleits a tunnel with two mouths connected to a single throat. With a spacetime wormhole, matter can travel from one mouth to the other by passing through the throat. In 1985, American cosmologist Kip Thorne and the late astronomer Carl Sagan first suggested the current incarnation of wormholes when the pair was brainstorming scientifically plausible ideas for Sagans science-fiction novel Contact. Sagan posed the problem of hyperspace travel to Thornehow could he transport his fictional characters from Earth to various points in space quickly and within their lifetimes? Thorne expanded on earlier, discarded wormhole concepts by European physicists Karl Schwarzschild and Ludwig Flamm in 1916 and by Princeton University physicists Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen in the 1930s. The so-called Einstein-Rosen Bridge was named after the duo worked out the basic mathematics of connecting a black hole in space with a speculative mirror universe. Both Einstein and Rosen stopped working on the odd theory when they realized it would require faster-than-light travela physical impossibilityto traverse the bridge. By 1948, mathematician Kurt G__ worked out the complex equations which demonstrated that tunnels through spacetime might be possible. By the 1950s, Princetons John Wheeler began using the term wormhole to describe the spacetime tunnel idea (he also dubbed collapsed stellar singularities as black holes"). To make Thorne and Sagans current wormhole idea workable as an interstellar rapid transit system, youd have to stabilize the quirky cosmic phenomenon. Theoretically, wormholes might be transitory occurrences in spacetime. Thus, a spaceship passing through one mouth of a wormhole might get trapped in the throat when the exit mouth closes. Theres also the possibility of radiation so lethal to life in and around a wormhole making its use as a deep space portal impossible. On the other hand, wormholes may exist only on the subatomic level thus squashing the idea of their use as interstellar gateways by mega life-forms such as humans.