Scientists have reported that they were able to turn back time, albeit only for a fraction of a second, with a quantum computer.
In a study, a team of researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and their colleagues from the United States and Switzerland successfully returned the state of an IBM quantum computer into the past. The feat challenges the basic laws of physics and the current understanding of the mechanics that govern the entire universe.
The second law of thermodynamics which states that, as energy is transferred and transformed, the more it is wasted. It also states that any isolated system will descend into a more disorder state naturally.
The second law of thermodynamics is also closely associated with the “arrow of time,” a concept that posits time only has one direction and it goes forward.
However, experiments like the one that was published in the journal Scientific Reports on Tuesday, March 11, shows that these laws can be violated.
In the study, the researchers used an evolution program that will affect qubits, a basic unit of quantum information described by a “one,” “zero,” or a mixture of both called “superposition.” The evolution program was launched, causing the qubits to form into increasingly complex changing patterns of ones and zeroes.
During the process, the order was lost. However, another program altered the computer’s state, allowing it to return to its original form, restoring order from the chaos.
According to the researchers, the two-qubit quantum computers returned to their orderly original state in 85 percent of the cases. In three-qubit quantum computers, the success rate went down to 50 percent.
Unfortunately, the discovery does not mean that the researchers have just invented time travel. The experiment can be compared to watching a video and pressing the rewind button.
It is not exactly a TARDIS or Dr. Brown’s DeLorean. However, researchers believe that their study could be useful for testing quantum programs and aiding in the development of more precise quantum computers in the future.
“Our algorithm could be updated and used to test programs written for quantum computers and eliminate noise and errors,” stated Gordey Lesovik, the lead author of the study.