Scientists Just Reversed the Arrow of Time by Using Quantum Entanglement

Tuesday, 02 January 2018 - 11:12AM
Tuesday, 02 January 2018 - 11:12AM
Scientists Just Reversed the Arrow of Time by Using Quantum Entanglement
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Image credit: Pixabay
Scientists insist it is not possible to travel backward in time—at least, not without some kind of wormhole to spit someone out in a different part of the space-time continuum.

While approaching the speed of light can essentially (in theory) enable someone to travel at a faster rate into the future, this is a one-way street. It's not possible to reverse time, or to turn back the effects of entropy. Food that gets cold cannot be convinced to turn back the clock and regain its former heat again—once atoms have dispersed their latent energy, it's gone forever.

Or, at least, it was gone forever. Now, for the first time, scientists at the Federal University of ABC in Brazil have successfully reversed entropy, essentially breaking the second law of thermodynamics, and turning back the so-called "arrow of time" that dictates that atoms cannot be returned to a former state of organization.

If this sounds complicated, it gets even crazier—the physicists, led by Kaonan Micadei, achieved this by messing around with that most mind-boggling of concepts, quantum entanglement.

Quantum entanglement has seen a lot of interest from the scientific community in recent years. It is essentially the science of pinning two particles together, in such a way that when one particle moves, the other must unequivocally, inescapably move in the same way.

Mass Effect posits quantum entanglement as a method of performing real-time communication over otherwise impossible distances, while Nerdist's Kyle Hill suggests that quantum entanglement might explain The Upside Down in Stranger Things. If one particle moves in a certain way, then its partner must similarly move, no matter where it might be in the universe.

The scientists at the Federal University of ABC have been able to entangle atoms in such a way that they're able to perform otherwise impossible actions—such as, a cold atom sending heat to its partnered atom, despite having already exhausted the heat that it contains.

While the specifics of this science are incredibly complicated, it might help to think of quantum entanglement as being used to create a savestate, or a back-up of the physical state of the atom, which can then be used to reset the atom to its former state.

This isn't a particularly accurate description of what's going on, but it's in the right ballpark. Scientists can get a cold atom to behave like it did at an early point in time, and in some small, tiny way, quantum entanglement is being used to turn back time.

Admittedly, there's a lot of research yet to be done to explore this concept. Further testing from different universities will be necessary to prove that the experiment is replicable, and doesn't contain bias. Then there's the murky question of taking this science out of the carefully controlled laboratory setting, and into other, broader environments.

Whatever's going on here, though, it seems as if the laws of thermodynamics aren't as rigid as we might like to believe. This is very exciting for anyone who's ever left a coffee too long and seen it get cold.

Truly, this is science that can benefit all of mankind.
Science News