A physicist in the UK has proposed a new method of disembodied transport in quantum computers. Instead of relying on a system of quantum teleportation, where a particle is destroyed in one place and then recreated elsewhere following an exchange of information, the new system – called counterportation – claims that it doesn’t need even the information to make a particle disappear here and reappear there. It would use local wormholes.
So the quantum world has teleportation and it might now get wormholes? The microcosmos seems to have all the fun! Wormholes are a (still theoretical) connection between separate space-time regions. They are formally called Einstein-Rosen Bridges and they are a special solution of Einstein’s general relativity. Theoretically, one could travel through a wormhole and end up both a long time ago and in a galaxy far far away.
“Here’s the sharp distinction. While counterportation achieves the end goal of teleportation, namely disembodied transport, it remarkably does so without any detectable information carriers travelling across,” Hatim Salih, from the University of Bristol, said in a statement.
Wormholes seem to be a fair candidate for the concept of counterportation, and if wormholes feel peculiar, this idea of transport without exchanging particles or information seems absolutely absurd. But in the quantum world, you might as well start believing six impossible things before breakfast. And among them, you might want to include the concept of counterfactual definiteness.
To extremely simplify this idea, it is possible to use the lack of a measurement to learn something about a system – something that this framework allows, but other interpretations of quantum mechanics frown upon. In quantum computers, this would be akin to getting the result of a computation without actually running the computer. Now there are some peculiar effects that allow doing a measurement from the lack of it. Ghost imaging is such an example, but it is not just a quantum effect – it’s a classical effect and we can even do it with our eyes.
And from counterfactual quantum computing, Salih found a scheme that would create this disembodied transport without the particle exchange.
“This is a milestone we have been working towards for a bunch of years. It provides a theoretical as well as practical framework for exploring afresh enduring puzzles about the universe, such as the true nature of spacetime,” Salih added.
Plans are in the works to turn this scheme into an actual experiment that will not only look at whether the counterportation approach is possible, but could also be used to test fundamental theories of space-time.
The study is published in the journal Quantum Science and Technology.