The blockbuster Interstellar popularized the concept of wormholes. Yet they were first discovered nearly a century ago as peculiar solutions to Einstein’s gravitational equation and as shortcuts in the fabric of spacetime. Making space trassible disjunctively, or without having to pass through an observable space outside the wormhole, is the primary function of a traversable wormhole, which can be elegantly abstracted.

A new invention called counterportation by a University of Bristol physicist provides the first-ever practical blueprint for creating a lab wormhole that arguably spans space like a probe into the inner workings of the universe.

The physicist used a new computer scheme, which uses the basic laws of physics; a small object can be reconstructed through space without any particles crossing each other. Among other things, it offers a “smoking gun” for the existence of a physical reality that supports our most accurate description of the world.

Study author Hatim Salih, Honorary Research Fellow at the university’s Quantum Engineering Technology (QET) Labs and co-founder of the start-up DotQuantum, said: “This is a milestone that we have been working towards for years. It provides a theoretical and practical framework for re-examining enduring puzzles about the universe, such as the true nature of spacetime.”

For example, a stream of photons passing through an optical fiber or through the air to show others this text are examples of detectable information carriers that must pass when we interact. Or even the myriad neuronal signals bouncing around the brain as they do so.

This is true even in the case of quantum teleportation, which, apart from Star Trek, allows the transfer of all information about a small object, allowing it to be recreated somewhere else and become completely interchangeable with the original, which disintegrates. The latter creates a basic limitation that prevents error-free copying. It is noteworthy that the most recent wormhole simulation on Google’s Sycamore processor is essentially a teleportation test.

Hatim said: “Here is the sharp distinction. While counterporting accomplishes teleportation’s end goal, which is disembodied transport, it remarkably does so without any detectable information carriers traveling across it.

“To realize counterportation, an entirely new type of quantum computer must be built: an exchange-free computer, where communicating parties do not exchange particles.”

“Unlike large-scale quantum computers that promise remarkable accelerations that no one knows how to build, the promise of exchange-free quantum computers of even the smallest scale is making seemingly impossible tasks – such as contraportation – possible through fundamental integration of space next to time.”

“The goal in the near future is to physically build such a wormhole in the lab, which can then be used as a test bed for rival physical theories, even theories of quantum gravity.” added Hatim.

“This work will be in the spirit of the billions of companies that exist to witness new physical phenomena, such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), but at a fraction of the resources. Our hope is to provide remote access to local wormholes for physicists, physics hobbyists and enthusiasts to investigate fundamental questions about the universe, including the existence of higher dimensions.

Tim Spiller, Professor of Quantum Information Technologies at York University and Director of the Quantum Communications Hub of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme, said: “Quantum theory continues to inspire and amaze us. Hatim’s latest work on contraportation is another example, with the bonus of a path to experimental demonstration.”

John Rarity, Professor of Optical Communications Systems at the University of Bristol, said: “We experience a classical world made up of quantum objects. The proposed experiment can reveal this underlying quantum nature, showing that completely separate quantum particles can be correlated without ever interacting. This distant correlation can then be used to transport quantum information (qbits) from one location to another without a particle having to traverse space, creating what is known as a traversable wormhole.”

Magazine reference:

  1. Hatim Salih. From contraportation to local wormholes. Quantum science and technology. DOI: 10.1088/2058-9565/ac8ecd