New experiment could create the first-ever traversable wormhole

It's science fiction come to life.
Loukia Papadopoulos
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Scientists may be able to create the first ever traversable wormhole.


A new experiment devised by physicists at the University of Bristol’s Quantum Engineering Technology Labs in the UK could lead to the first-ever traversable wormhole and enable a form of teleportation that researchers have named “counterportation.” 

This is according to a report by Vice published on March 20.

Although wormholes are popular in science fiction and research studies, no one has ever produced a real one in an experiment or even identified one in the universe.

This may all change as Hatim Salih, a quantum physicist and honorary research fellow at the University of Bristol’s Quantum Engineering Technology Labs, has devised a way to achieve this out-of-reach goal. 

“Imagine if someone’s consciousness, like a strong AI, is copied into a quantum object,” Salih told Vice in a call.

“If you counterport each one the qubits, transport them from one place to another—and if this thing has a subjective experience—then it possibly could tell you what it feels like to go through a wormhole.”

A first-of-its-kind wormhole

He plans to engineer a first-of-its-kind traversable wormhole with a special kind of quantum computer.

“The key thing is it uses current technology and currently available components,” added Salih. “The hope is that within the next three to four years, we will have built this thing​​.”

At the basis of the new experiment lies a principle coined as “counterportation” by Salih. The word emerged from combining  “counterfactual” and “transportation.”

Counterportation would allow scientists to send light through a quantum wormhole system frozen in an “off” state by constant observation. Meanwhile, at the wormhole's other end, scientists could reconstruct the light without any electricity or particles ever being sent. 

“Counterportation gives you the end goal of the object being reconstituted across space, but we can verify that nothing has passed,” Salih explained. 

“This is key for other important considerations or consequences because if we can strictly say nothing has passed, then we can examine some questions in physics, for example, afresh in a different light.”  

Salih is now focused on building an exchange-free computer that can successfully undertake counterportation, making it quite different from today’s quantum computers.

“Quantum computing has one main goal: faster. That’s it,” Salih told Vice. “This is not faster. In fact, it's considerably slower—this exchange-free quantum computation. We’re not in that game. What it does is this thing where the inputs don't talk to each other, and then you can see effects that regular quantum computing doesn’t show.”

The study is published in Quantum Science and Technology.

Study abstract:

We propose an experimental realisation of the protocol for the counterfactual disembodied transport of an unknown qubit—or what we call counterportation—where sender and receiver, remarkably, exchange no particles. We employ cavity quantum electrodynamics, estimating resources for beating the classical fidelity limit—except, unlike teleportation, no pre-shared entanglement nor classical communication are required. Our approach is multiple orders of magnitude more efficient in terms of physical resources than previously proposed implementation, paving the way for a demonstration using existing imperfect devices. Surprisingly, while such communication is intuitively explained in terms of 'interaction-free' measurement and the Zeno effect, we show that neither is necessary, with far-reaching implications in support of an underlying physical reality. We go on to characterise an explanatory framework for counterportation starting from constructor theory: local wormholes. Conversely, a counterportation experiment demonstrating the traversability of space, by means of what is essentially a two-qubit exchange-free quantum computer, can point to the existence in the lab of such traversable wormholes.

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