For the first time, researchers have simulated a simplified wormhole using Google’s Sycamore quantum computer, and have transported a bit of quantum information through it. This means a quantum computer has simulated a wormhole for the first time ever in history.
For the very first time, a quantum computer was utilized to simulate a holographic wormhole. In this case, the term “holographic” refers to a method of simplifying physics problems that involve both quantum mechanics and gravity, rather than a literal hologram, so simulations like this could assist us in comprehending how to incorporate those two concepts into a theory of quantum gravity – possibly the most difficult and important dilemma in physics right now.
Both quantum mechanics, which rules the very small, and general relativity, which governs gravity and the very vast, are extremely successful in their separate fields, but they do not fit together. This contradiction is especially noticeable in locations where both theories should hold, such as inside and around black holes.
These are extremely complicated domains, which is where holography comes in. It enables physicists to develop a simpler system that is comparable to the original, in the same way that a two-dimensional hologram can exhibit three-dimensional information.
The California Institute of Technology’s Maria Spiropulu and her colleagues utilized Google’s Sycamore quantum computer to simulate a holographic wormhole, which is a tunnel through space-time with black holes at either end. They simulated a wormhole through which a message could theoretically flow and investigated the procedure by which such a message may travel.
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That voyage would be mostly mediated by gravity in a genuine wormhole, but the holographic wormhole substitutes quantum effects for gravity to eliminate relativity from the equation and simplify the system. That indicates that as the message travels through the wormhole, it is undergoing quantum teleportation, which is a technique by which information about quantum states can be sent between two distant but quantum entangled particles. The “message” in this scenario was a signal containing a quantum state – a qubit in a superposition of 1 and 0.
“The signal scrambles, it becomes mush, it becomes chaos, and then it gets put back together and appears immaculate on the other side,” says Spiropulu. “Even on this tiny system we could prop up the wormhole and observe just what we expected.” This is due to the quantum entanglement that exists between the two black holes, which permits information that falls into one part of the wormhole to be maintained at the other end. This is one of the reasons why a quantum computer is suitable for this kind of research.
The simulation had a relatively low resolution because it only used nine quantum bits, or qubits. This had the general shape of the thing it depicted, like a photograph of a bird taken from a distance, but the simulation had to be carefully tuned to depict the features of a wormhole. “If you want to see this as a wormhole, there are a number of parallels, but it’s definitely a matter of interpretation,” Adam Brown from Stanford University in California, who was not involved in this experiment, makes the claim.
Using a more potent quantum computer might aid in sharpening the image. “This is just a baby wormhole, a first step to test the theories of quantum gravity, and as the quantum computers scale up we have to start using bigger quantum systems to try to test the bigger ideas in quantum gravity,” says Spiropulu.
This is important because using solely classical computation, it is difficult or perhaps impossible to fully comprehend some quantum gravity theories. “We know that quantum gravity is very confusing, the theory can be very hard to extract predictions from, and the dream would be to do something on a quantum computer that tells you things you don’t already know about quantum gravity,” says Brown. “This is not that – this is a very small quantum computer, so everything about it is completely possible to simulate on a laptop without the fan even starting.”
However, the simulation’s resemblance to a genuine wormhole raises the possibility that theories concerning quantum gravity may be developed, tested, and ultimately understood using quantum computers.
Journal reference: Nature, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-05424-3