“In an experiment that ticks most of the mystery boxes in modern physics, a group of researchers announced Wednesday that they had simulated a pair of black holes in a quantum computer,” reports the New York Times [alternate URL here. But in addition, the researchers also sent a message between their two black holes, the Times reports, “through a shortcut in space-time called a wormhole.
“Physicists described the achievement as another small step in the effort to understand the relation between gravity, which shapes the universe, and quantum mechanics, which governs the subatomic realm of particles….
Quanta magazine reports:
The wormhole emerged like a hologram out of quantum bits of information, or “qubits,” stored in tiny superconducting circuits. By manipulating the qubits, the physicists then sent information through the wormhole, they reported Wednesday in the journal Nature. The team, led by Maria Spiropulu of the California Institute of Technology, implemented the novel “wormhole teleportation protocol” using Google’s quantum computer, a device called Sycamore housed at Google Quantum AI in Santa Barbara, California. With this first-of-its-kind “quantum gravity experiment on a chip,” as Spiropulu described it, she and her team beat a competing group of physicists who aim to do wormhole teleportation with IBM and Quantinuum’s quantum computers.
When Spiropulu saw the key signature indicating that qubits were passing through the wormhole, she said, “I was shaken.”
The experiment can be seen as evidence for the holographic principle, a sweeping hypothesis about how the two pillars of fundamental physics, quantum mechanics and general relativity, fit together…. The holographic principle, ascendant since the 1990s, posits a mathematical equivalence or “duality” between the two frameworks. It says the bendy space-time continuum described by general relativity is really a quantum system of particles in disguise. Space-time and gravity emerge from quantum effects much as a 3D hologram projects out of a 2D pattern. Indeed, the new experiment confirms that quantum effects, of the type that we can control in a quantum computer, can give rise to a phenomenon that we expect to see in relativity — a wormhole….
To be clear, unlike an ordinary hologram, the wormhole isn’t something we can see. While it can be considered “a filament of real space-time,” according to co-author Daniel Jafferis of Harvard University, lead developer of the wormhole teleportation protocol, it’s not part of the same reality that we and the Sycamore computer inhabit. The holographic principle says that the two realities — the one with the wormhole and the one with the qubits — are alternate versions of the same physics, but how to conceptualize this kind of duality remains mysterious. Opinions will differ about the fundamental implications of the result. Crucially, the holographic wormhole in the experiment consists of a different kind of space-time than the space-time of our own universe. It’s debatable whether the experiment furthers the hypothesis that the space-time we inhabit is also holographic, patterned by quantum bits.
“I think it is true that gravity in our universe is emergent from some quantum [bits] in the same way that this little baby one-dimensional wormhole is emergent” from the Sycamore chip, Jafferis said. “Of course we don’t know that for sure. We’re trying to understand it.”
Here’s how principal investigator Spiropulu summarizes their experiment. “We found a quantum system that exhibits key properties of a gravitational wormhole yet is sufficiently small to implement on today’s quantum hardware.”
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