September 25, 2020

They simulate a journey through time with a quantum computer and refute the “butterfly effect” • Trends21

American researchers have simulated a time trip using a quantum computer, discovering that in the world of quantum processes the “butterfly effect” does not occur: changes in the past are insignificant when returning to the present.

A study carried out by scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the United States has managed to simulate the conditions of a time travel through the IBM-Q quantum processor: experience has shown that in the quantum scenario the so-called “butterfly effect ”Is not verified, therefore what is modified in the past does not produce a strong interference in the present.

Time travel has always fascinated humans. Although they seemed unique to science fiction, quantum physics and computer science now seem to be closer to making them happen, at least by way of simulation. It is what a Press release of the Los Álamos National Laboratory, which collects the conclusions of a recent investigation carried out in said center.

The specialists used the quantum computer to “go back in time” to a set of information in the form of qubits. Some of that data was corrupted, so if the “butterfly effect” worked in the quantum world, all the information would have to be altered to the present. Surprisingly, they discovered that upon returning to the present day most of the qubits were intact, as if they could put themselves back together.

Changes in the past do not alter the present

The “butterfly effect” indicates that reality is a dynamic and complex system, highly conditioned by the original situations and their subsequent development. Consequently, it would be extremely sensitive to any changes made in the past, which would strongly affect the present. It owes its name to Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder” (1952), in which a character travel to the past and step on a butterfly. Returning to the present, everything has changed dramatically.

By contrast, American scientists have found that small, localized damage in the quantum world continues to have the same impact and magnitude in the present, but does not generalize or change the main conditions of the system. In this way, it is verified once again that the laws of visible reality have no correlation with what is observed in the world of quantum processes.

Computer security applications

The results of this research could have a large number of applications. For example, in the hardware area they would be useful to safeguard data and to test new quantum information devices. Data could be more securely protected by transforming its original state into a strongly encrypted one.

The group of researchers highlighted that quantum hardware has multiple advantages in the protection of information. Even if there are local alterations, the data can be recovered quickly since the damage is not magnified or reproduced.

Furthermore, the system used by specialists could be used to determine with certainty whether a particular device is actually operating under quantum principles, by subjecting it to the “butterfly effect” test.


Recovery of Damaged Information and the Out-of-Time-Ordered Correlators.Bin Yan and Nikolai A. Sinitsyn. Physical Review Letters (2020) .DOI: https: //

Photo: Kevin Maillefer. Unsplash.

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