Thanks to a unique approach that circumvents the major problem of scaling such prototypes, one of the first practical applications of the much-vaunted but little-used quantum computing technology is now within reach.
The invention of a University of Bristol physicist, who gave it the name ‘counterportation’, provides the very first practical blueprint for creating a wormhole in the laboratory that has been shown to span space, as a probe into the inner workings of the universe.
Through the use of a novel computing scheme revealed in the Journal Quantum Science and Technology, which takes advantage of the fundamental laws of physics, a small object can be reconstituted across space without particles crossing. Among other things, it provides “smoking proof” of the existence of a physical reality that underpins our most accurate description of the world.
Study author Hatim Salih, an Honorary Research Fellow at the university’s Quantum Engineering Technology (QET) Labs and co-founder of start-up DotQuantum, said: “This is a milestone that we have been working towards for a number of years, providing a theoretical and practical framework to solve enduring puzzles about the universe, like re-exploring the true nature of spacetime.”
The need for traceable information carriers traveling through our communications is an ingrained assumption among scientists, for example a stream of photons traversing an optical fiber or through the air, enabling humans to read that text. Or actually the countless neural signals that jump around in the brain.
This is even true for quantum teleportation which, apart from “Star Trek”, transmits complete information about a small object so that it can be reconstructed elsewhere so that it is in no meaningful way distinguishable from the original dissipating. The latter ensures a fundamental limitation that prevents perfect copying. In particular, the recent simulation of a wormhole on Google’s Sycamore processor is essentially a teleportation experiment.
Hatim said: ‘Here is the sharp difference. Remarkably, while counterportation achieves the end goal of teleportation, which is disembodied transport, it does so with no detectable carriers of information traveling across.”
Wormholes were popularized by the megahit Interstellar, which crewed with physicist and Nobel laureate Kip Thorne. But they first surfaced about a century ago as whimsical solutions to Einstein’s equation of gravity, shortcuts in the fabric of space-time. However, the defining task of a traversable wormhole can be neatly abstracted by making space disjointly traversable; in other words, in the absence of travel through observable space outside the wormhole.
The groundbreaking research being completed to match the “Interstellar” goosebumps score reveals a way to accomplish this task.
“If counterportation is to be realized, an entirely new type of quantum computer needs to be built: an exchange-free one, in which communicating parties do not exchange particles,” Hatim said.
“Unlike large quantum computers, which promise remarkable accelerations that no one yet knows how to build, exchange-free quantum computers, even at the smallest scale, promise to make seemingly impossible tasks – like counterportation – possible by using space alongside time.” fundamentally involves.”
Plans are currently underway to physically build this otherworldly sounding wormhole in the lab in collaboration with leading UK quantum experts in Bristol, Oxford and York.
“The goal in the near future is to physically build such a wormhole in the lab, which can then be used as a testbed for competing physical theories, even those on quantum gravity,” Hatim added.
“This work will be in the spirit of the multi-billion dollar projects that exist to observe new physical phenomena, such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), but at a fraction of resources. Our hope is to eventually give physicists, amateur physicists and enthusiasts remote access to local wormholes to study fundamental questions about the universe, including the existence of higher dimensions.”
Tim Spiller, Professor of Quantum Information Technologies at the University of York and Director of the Quantum Communications Hub of the UK’s National Quantum Technologies Program, said: “Quantum theory continues to inspire and amaze us. Hatim’s recent work on counterportation provides another example of this, with the added bonus of a route to experimental demonstration.”
John Rarity, Professor of Optical Communications Systems at the University of Bristol, said: “We are witnessing a classical world that is actually constructed of quantum objects. The proposed experiment can unveil this underlying quantum nature and show that fully separate quantum particles can be correlated without ever correlating at a distance. This remote correlation can then be used to transport quantum information (qbits) from one place to another without a particle moving through space has to traverse, creating what is known as a traversable wormhole.”
Hatim Salih, From Counterportation to Local Wormholes, Quantum Science and Technology (2022). DOI: 10.1088/2058-9565/ac8ecd
Quantum Science and Technology