Research Press Release

Quantum physics: A holographic wormhole in a quantum computer


December 1, 2022

The first known report of a quantum “simulation” of a holographic wormhole on a quantum processor is published in Nature this week. The demonstration, performed using the Google Sycamore processor, represents a step towards the possibility to study quantum gravity in the laboratory.

General relativity describes the physical world at high energies or matter densities, for instance in astrophysical objects. Quantum mechanics describes matter at atomic and subatomic scales. Quantum gravity is a hypothetical physical theory that would describe objects where both these instances are relevant, such as the interior of black holes. However, quantum mechanics and general relativity are fundamentally incompatible, and there is therefore no consensus on a theory of quantum gravity.

The holographic principle is a way to connect different theories that might help reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity, explaining relativity as emergent from quantum physics in a restricted physical system. Following this principle, Maria Spiropulu and colleagues design a simple system to simulate a holographic wormhole — where the properties of a suitably designed quantum system match what is expected in a gravitational system. The quantum simulation is performed using a quantum computer, consisting of a nine-qubit circuit. A qubit teleported across the processor exhibits the same dynamics as a qubit would be expected to while crossing a traversable wormhole.

The experiments offer a first demonstration of the potential future feasibility of using quantum computers to test theories of quantum gravity.


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