Scientists Successfully ‘Reverse Time’ With Quantum Computer

by : Charlie Cocksedge on : 13 Mar 2019 12:20

Here we go everyone, just in time before Brexit, someone has finally worked out time travel! Let’s go back to before June 2016! In fact, let’s go back further and bring back and Bowie and Prince!

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but if this group of scientists is to be believed, they’ve worked out a form of time travel, which they describe as moving in the opposite direction of ‘time’s arrow’.


Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics & Technology (MIPT), working with electrons, said their breakthrough has effectively defied the second law of thermodynamics by causing electrons to ‘re-order’ themselves after being broken. They compared it to a broken rack of pool balls reversing back into order.

The research paper, titled ‘Arrow of time and its reversal on the IBM quantum computer’, published in Scientific Reports, looked at whether it was possible ‘to develop protocols for circumventing the irreversibility of time’.

The team did this by designing a ‘quantum algorithm’ which – if given the correct information – ‘reverses a given quantum state’.


So, kind of like clicking the Undo button on a computer?

Well, kind of, but not really. Rather than erasing anything, the team discovered a way to reverse the behaviour of electrons using ‘backward time dynamics’.

The experiment or, ahem, time machine, involved using an ‘evolution program’ to cause qubits (units of information made up of zeros and ones) in a quantum computer to become increasingly complicated. As the qubits fell out of order and lost their pattern, another program was launched to reverse the process, which ‘looks as if time is running backwards’, according to lead researcher Dr Gordey Lesovik, the Independent reports.


Dr Lesovik added:

We have artificially created a state that evolves in a direction opposite to that of the thermodynamic arrow of time.

The qubits effectively ‘rewound’ themselves back to their starting point and, when working with two qubits, the success rate was around 85 per cent. When three qubits were involved, the success rate dropped to around 50 per cent.


Dr Lesovik hopes their algorithm will have a practical use in developing programs written for quantum computers, as well eliminating noise and errors from quantum computing in general.

By using qubits – which are more flexible in their potential use compared to regular bits in a classical computer – quantum computers have the potential to simulate theoretical ideas in a way that other computers cannot.

Maybe they can use it on Article 50.

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Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist and sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.

Topics: Science


Scientific Reports and 1 other
  1. Scientific Reports

    Arrow of time and its reversal on the IBM quantum computer

  2. Independent