Time travel isn’t that impossible when it comes to a quantum scale. An experiment made by a team of researchers from the United States and Russia tried to bend the second law of thermodynamics. The law tells us that hot things become colder as the energy spreads from the area where it is most intense.
“That law is closely related to the notion of the arrow of time that posits the one-way direction of time from the past to the future,” explained quantum physicist Gordey Lesovik from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.
The Schrödinger equation
The Schrödinger equation can be used to predict the “future” for quantum particles. However, in time, the number of possibilities of a particle’s positions increase.
“However, Schrödinger’s equation is reversible,” says materials scientist Valerii Vinokur from the Argonne National Laboratory in the US. “Mathematically, it means that under a certain transformation called complex conjugation, the equation will describe a ‘smeared’ electron localising back into a small region of space over the same time period.”
Turning back time
Researchers managed to make time go back for a tiny fraction of a second backward. “We have artificially created a state that evolves in a direction opposite to that of the thermodynamic arrow of time,” declared Lesovik in a university-published press release.
Basically, researchers managed to restore the earlier state of the quantum computer. Scientists managed to do that about 85 percent of the time when they used the simplified two-qubit system. However, when they worked with a quantum computer with three qubits, which is more complex, the experiment wasn’t as successful and researchers managed to make it work only 49 percent of the time.
This experiment won’t help us create a time machine, but it could help scientists enhance the accuracy of quantum computers.
Meagan Kozlovs is a reporter for Debate Report. She’s worked and interned at Global News Toronto and CHECX. Megan is based in Toronto and covers issues affecting her city. In addition to her severe milk shake addiction, she’s a Netflix enthusiast, a red wine drinker, and a voracious reader.