Recently, a group of scientists discovered that quantum systems may mimic wormholes, theoretical shortcuts in spacetime, in that they permit the instantaneous transfer of information between distant places.
Despite the fact that quantum particles are unaffected by gravity in the same manner that classical objects are, the study team believes their results may have ramifications for investigating quantum gravity. The study appeared this week in the journal Nature.
“The relationship between quantum entanglement, spacetime, and quantum gravity is one of the most important questions in fundamental physics and an active area of theoretical research,” California Institute of Technology physicist Maria Spiropulu, the paper’s primary author, claimed in a press release. “We are excited to take this small step toward testing these ideas on quantum hardware and will keep going.“
It’s time to take a breather. It should be made clear that the researchers did not really transmit quantum information via a spacetime rip, which in principle would unite previously disconnected parts of the universe.
Think of it as folding a sheet of paper in half and sticking a pencil in between the folds. Since the paper represents spacetime, you may use it as a gateway to connect two seemingly inaccessible locations.
In @Nature: making a traversable wormhole with a quantum computer. A qubit teleported across our Sycamore processor exhibits the dynamics expected from crossing a traversable wormhole, opening up possibilities to test quantum gravity theories. #GoogleAI https://t.co/I8sofabj8r https://t.co/lgedcmDVm7
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) November 30, 2022
In theoretical physics, there is a theory that posits wormholes are analogous to quantum entanglement, which Einstein notably referred to as “spooky action at a distance.” This indicates that the spins of entangled quantum particles characterize them uniquely, even at large distances. Due of their special bond, quantum particles make excellent teleportation prototypes.
Separate research from 2017 showed that the gravitational description of spacetime wormholes is equal to the transfer of quantum information. The new group has been investigating the problem for themselves for some years.
They aimed to demonstrate not just the equivalence of the two models, but also the possibility of describing information transmission in terms of either gravity or quantum entanglement. Scientists at Google were able to utilize its Sycamore quantum computer for the task.
“We performed a kind of quantum teleportation equivalent to a traversable wormhole in the gravity picture,” said Alexander Zlokapa, a graduate student at MIT and a part of the team, in the release. “To do this, we had to simplify the quantum system to the smallest example that preserves gravitational characteristics so we could implement it on the Sycamore quantum processor at Google.”
In an experiment that ticks most of the mystery boxes in modern physics, researchers announced they had simulated a pair of black holes in a quantum computer and sent a message between them through a "baby wormhole." https://t.co/9wfYq2I2EB pic.twitter.com/S5Y7R12OZW
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 30, 2022
A quantum bit (qubit) was introduced into a unique quantum system, and the scientists then saw data leaving the system.
According to their paper, the information they had placed into one quantum system had exited the other system through the quantum counterpart of a wormhole.
The researchers added that the teleportation of the quantum information was consistent with both quantum physical expectations and the gravitational knowledge of how an item would move through a wormhole.
To see how this quantum information transfer could evolve in a more complicated experimental setting, the team aims to construct increasingly advanced quantum devices. It has been 87 years since Einstein and his collaborators first described wormholes; maybe by the time the concept reaches 100, scientists will have figured out how they work.