Scientists Just Created a New Quantum Computing Device Based on Back to the Future's Flux Capacitor
We may finally have a science/sci-fi crossover story to beat cell phones (famously inspired by Star Trek's communicators): A team of physicists from Australia and Switzerland has created a new device based on Back to the Future's flux capacitor that not only serves as the next big step toward quantum computing—it breaks "time-reversal symmetry" in the process.
Before you ask "Does that mean we can use it to make time travel possible?" the answer is no, because time travel into the past is probably impossible (though the future is still on the table).
Either way, this device is really, really cool.
There are two versions, including one that looks almost exactly like the original flux capacitor.
It's essentially a prototype for a new kind of electric circulator, a type of device that controls which direction microwaves move in a system.
Professor Jared Cole, one of the scientists involved in the new research, describes it like this:
"In [the device], quantum 'tubes' of magnetic flux can move around a central capacitor by a process known as quantum tunneling, where they overcome classically insurmountable obstacles."
What does all this mean?
Well, for one thing, it has big implications for making quantum computing feasible.
According to Dr. Clemens Mueller, another scientist involved in the project:
"Our research makes an important step towards scaling up this technology, where researchers need to precisely direct control and measurement signals around a quantum computer."
Despite breaking "time-reversal symmetry," the scientists aren't doing anything worthy of a three-film movie deal.
According to Professor Tom Stace: "Unfortunately this effect does not allow us to actually travel back in time. Instead, it means that signals circulate around the circuit in only one direction, much like cars on a roundabout."
Messing with symmetry across time is the M.O. of another sci-fi-sounding phenomenon—time crystals.
However, those don't allow you to travel through time either.
If you do want to see the future, you'll probably just have to hang around a black hole like everyone else.