In an experiment reported in the journal Nature, physicists have achieved a remarkable feat by creating the world’s first quantum holographic wormhole. The experiment delves into the profound connection between quantum information and space-time, challenging traditional theories and shedding light on the complex relationship between quantum mechanics and general relativity.

The team, led by Maria Spiropulu from the California Institute of Technology, utilized Google’s quantum computer, Sycamore, to implement the groundbreaking “wormhole teleportation protocol.” This quantum gravity experiment on a chip surpassed competitors using IBM and Quantinuum’s quantum computers, marking a significant leap in the exploration of quantum phenomena.

The holographic wormhole emerged as a hologram from
manipulated quantum bits, or “qubits,” stored in minute superconducting
circuits. This achievement brings us closer to realizing a tunnel, theorized by
Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen in 1935, that traverses an extra dimension of
space. The team successfully transmitted information through this quantum
tunnel, further validating the experiment’s success.

The holographic principle, a hypothesis proposing a mathematical equivalence or “duality” between quantum mechanics and general relativity, gains support from this experiment. It suggests that the space-time continuum, described by general relativity, is, in fact, a quantum system of particles in disguise. This breakthrough affirms that quantum effects controlled in a quantum computer can give rise to phenomena expected in relativity, such as a wormhole.

However, the holographic wormhole remains an elusive concept, existing as a filament of real space-time that is not visible to the human eye. Co-author Daniel Jafferis of Harvard University describes it as an alternate reality, challenging our conceptualization of dualities within the same physics framework.

Despite the success of the experiment, fundamental
questions linger. The holographic wormhole in the experiment represents a
different kind of space-time than that of our own universe. This prompts debate
on whether the results support the hypothesis that our universe’s space-time is
also holographic, intricately patterned by quantum bits.

In the words of Jafferis, “Gravity in our universe may be emergent from some quantum [bits], much like this one-dimensional wormhole emerges from the Sycamore chip. However, certainty eludes us as we strive to comprehend this complex relationship.” The experiment opens new avenues for exploration, pushing the boundaries of our understanding of the universe’s fundamental nature.

## Into the Wormhole

The narrative of the holographic wormhole originates from the unexpected convergence of two papers published in 1935 by Einstein and Rosen (ER) and Einstein, Rosen, and Podolsky (EPR). Initially overlooked, these works gained newfound significance as physicists delved into the uncharted territories of quantum entanglement and wormholes.

Einstein and Rosen, while grappling with the extension of general relativity into a unified theory of everything, stumbled upon the potential of wormholes. Building on Schwarzschild’s 1916 findings on singularities within general relativity, they envisioned these “bridges” as extra-dimensional tubes replacing sharp points in space-time. These wormholes, they speculated, could represent particles, setting the stage for a quantum theory of gravity.

Remarkably, the ER duo failed to connect their wormhole hypothesis with the quantum entanglement phenomenon identified in the EPR paper just two months earlier. Quantum entanglement, where particles share states regardless of distance, would later prove to be a key element in this groundbreaking research.

The implications of entanglement gained prominence in the 1990s when physicists realized its potential for quantum computing. Quantum objects, like qubits, existing in multiple states simultaneously allowed for exponentially growing computational power. The entanglement of qubits in quantum computers, exemplified by Google’s 54-qubit Sycamore machine, showcased the tangible progress in this field.

Concurrently, quantum gravity researchers honed in on entanglement as a potential source code for space-time holograms. This convergence of quantum computing and fundamental physics spurred an interdisciplinary approach, leading to the successful creation of a holographic wormhole using a quantum computer.

In the late 1980s, discussions about emergent space-time and holography gained momentum, inspired by John Wheeler’s proposition that information could be the foundation of everything in space-time. This idea evolved with Gerard ’t Hooft and Leonard Susskind contributing to the holographic principle, suggesting a duality between bendy space-time and a quantum system on its lower-dimensional boundary.

Juan Maldacena’s 1997 AdS/CFT correspondence laid the foundation for the recent breakthrough. Maldacena demonstrated that the properties of space-time and gravity in AdS space are mirrored in a conformal field theory on its boundary. Further exploration by Maldacena into quantum entanglement led to the realization that certain entanglement patterns could be mathematically dual to a pair of black holes connected by a wormhole.

The turning point came in 2013 when Maldacena and Leonard Susskind proposed the ER = EPR conjecture, suggesting a general correspondence between entanglement and wormhole connection. Beni Jafferis, inspired by this idea, envisioned tailoring entanglement patterns to design traversable wormholes.

Collaborating with Ping Gao and Aron Wall, Jafferis demonstrated in 2016 that manipulating entangled particles can indeed hold open a wormhole and push a qubit through. This provided researchers with a novel approach to study the mechanics of holography, allowing them to see inside the wormhole.

The breakthrough expanded with the introduction of the SYK model, a holographic system of matter particles interacting in groups of four. Jafferis and Gao, building on Maldacena’s insights, developed a concrete method to teleport information through a traversable wormhole using the SYK model. This breakthrough represents the first tangible realization of ER = EPR, offering a precise understanding of the connection between entanglement and wormhole creation.

The recent experiment, co-authored by Alex Zlokapa,
a graduate student at MIT, marks a significant milestone in the quest to
unravel the mysteries of space-time through quantum entanglement and
holography. The ability to create and manipulate holographic wormholes opens
new avenues for exploring the fundamental nature of the universe.

In a leap forward, physicists, including the accomplished Maria Spiropulu, known for her role in the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, have achieved the creation of a holographic wormhole using a quantum computer. This remarkable feat emerged from the collaborative efforts of Spiropulu’s team and researchers at Google Quantum AI, custodians of the Sycamore quantum computing device.

The journey began in 2018 when Spiropulu persuaded
fellow physicist Jafferis to join the project. Faced with the challenge of
implementing the wormhole teleportation protocol on the Sycamore quantum
computer, the team had to simplify the full SYK model, which involves an
impractical number of particles and interactions. Their solution involved
sparsifying the model, retaining its holographic properties with just seven
qubits and a reduced number of operations.

The key to success lay in the innovative approach of Zlokapa, a skilled programmer within Spiropulu’s team. Zlokapa mapped particle interactions onto a neural network, strategically deleting network connections to reduce the number of four-way interactions. This step proved crucial in achieving the holographic wormhole with only seven qubits.

The programming of Sycamore’s qubits involved encoding 14 matter particles and a strategic swap of an eighth qubit, creating a holographic dual to a one-dimensional wormhole in AdS space. A subsequent rotation of qubits, equivalent to a pulse of negative energy through the wormhole, enabled successful teleportation of qubits between the left and right SYK models.

The culmination of two years of effort came late one
night in January when Zlokapa ran the finished protocol remotely from his
childhood bedroom. The appearance of a sharp peak on the computer screen
indicated the successful creation of a quantum gravity experiment, akin to
witnessing the first data for the Higgs discovery.

Notably, the experiment uncovered an unexpected second signature known as “size-winding,” a delicate pattern in information spread among qubits. This untrained property of the neural network confirmed the robustness of the holographic duality, providing experimental evidence supporting the gravitational picture produced by the quantum computer.

In conclusion, this achievement not only represents
a significant breakthrough in quantum gravity experiments but also highlights
the potential of quantum computers in exploring complex theoretical models,
pushing the boundaries of our understanding of the fundamental nature of the
universe.

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