In Russia they are recreating the Doctor Who time machine

In Russia they swear they have created a time machine. It is a very rudimentary model, capable of acting only on subatomic particles

In Russia a sort of "time machine" has been created that has managed to bring back in time, a fraction of a second, tiny subatomic particles. So say the scientists of the Institute of Physics and Technology in Moscow, explaining that the particles in question would be electrons and that they have managed to make them travel in the opposite direction to the "timeline".

The time machine in question would be a quantum computer, that is, a computer that instead of bits processes the "qubits". That is, information that can be zeros and ones, like normal bits, but also a "superposition" of zeros and ones. The qubit are "stored" on an electron. The Russian experiment involved an "evolution program," as the scientists call it, in which the qubits formed an increasingly complex pattern of zeros, ones and superposition of both.

How the Russian time machine works

To describe the experiment, the scientists use the analogy of a game of billiards. When a game is paused all the balls are scattered on the table in a seemingly random way, but they are actually there by precise laws of physics. What they would have been able to do in Moscow, in practice, would be equivalent to getting the balls back inside the triangle as they were at the beginning of the game. Thus. the state of the qubits at the end of the experiment returned to its original starting point: from chaos to order.

"We have artificially created a state that evolves in a direction opposite to that of the thermodynamic arrow of time," comments Gordey Lesovik, director of the Laboratory of Quantum Information Physics of the Moscow scientific institution. Scientists say that by repeating the experiment with only two qubits, "time reversal" occurs 85% of the time while when using three qubits it drops to 50%.

So has Tardis, the time machine from Doctor Who's well-known British TV series, been recreated? In fact, scientists talk about practical applications in the development of quantum computers: "Our algorithm could be updated and used to test programs written for quantum computers and eliminate noise and errors," continues Lesovik.

What is a quantum computer and how does it work?

If you have understood little or nothing of this so far, don't worry: the very concept of quantum computers is very difficult to understand because it seems illogical. Each qubit, in fact, can be both "on" and "off" but also "simultaneously on and off". Which seems impossible, but not if you reason with the rules of quantum mechanics that are very different from the physics that we see every day in action in our lives. The key to understand these rules is all in the dimensions: at infinitesimal dimensions, in fact, the matter behaves differently and the rules of classical physics are no longer valid. And to understand how a qubit can be both on and off at the same time, try to think of a spinning coin: until it falls on the table will it be heads or will it be tails? It will be both heads and tails.