Physicists Say Wormholes Could Void the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

Friday, 13 May 2016 - 12:41PM
Astrophysics
Physics
Friday, 13 May 2016 - 12:41PM
Physicists Say Wormholes Could Void the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
According to Einstein's theory of general relativity, time travel through wormholes is technically possible. And if we can ever figure out how to make it work, it would have huge repercussions in all areas of scientific study. But according to a new study from physicists in China, time travel may have an unexpected effect, as it would allow us to "beat" the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

The uncertainty principle refers to a series of equations that describe the limits to knowledge we can have about a particle's properties. For any pair of complementary properties, such as position and momentum, the more you know about one, the less you know about the other, broadly speaking. But according to the researchers, we might be able to violate the uncertainty principle by sending particles through a wormhole in an open timelike curve (if we ever manage to do that).

An open timelike curve (OTC) is a caveat to common theories of time travel. If we used wormholes, which are essentially shortcuts through spacetime, to travel back in time, and the two ends of the wormholes were close enough to each other in space, then this could create a closed timelike curve (CTC), in which a person could see him or herself fall into the wormhole. This could create a version of the grandfather paradox, since one could theoretically stop oneself from falling into the wormhole, in which case the future version of the self would never have come back in time in the first place. To resolve this problem, scientists came up with the OTC, which has ends far enough apart that one could never impact the past self.

In order to see whether an OTC was plausible, the researchers tested mathematically whether they had the same properties as a CTC. They discovered that if particles are sent back in time through the OTC, they synchronize to the point that they emerge on the other side altogether. As a result, observers could measure their position with much more accuracy than the Heisenberg uncertainty principle would predict.

This discovery is mostly abstract for now, unless we ever resolve the logistical issues with using wormholes for time travel, but it could also have real-world applications, especially when it comes to quantum computing. Some of the most difficult computational problems that our current quantum computers can't solve require a massive-scale trial-and-error, which basically amounts to trying out every single possibility imaginable. The nullification of the Heisenberg principle comes from the same concept as flipping a coin over and over until there's an exact 50/50 probability, so a similar system could go a long way towards solving these problems.

Via Science Alert

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