(By Becky Bracken) Researchers have figured out how to use an IBM quantum computer to break rules previously understood for the past century to govern quantum physics, called Hermitian Hamiltonians.
The team, led by Docent Sorin Paraoanu and conducted under the Finnish Center of Excellence in Quantum Technology, (QTF) of the Academy of Finland, recently published a paper that explained they were able to create an entire “toy” quantum universe, as they called it, where they could break Hermitian rules.
First, the researchers, including Dr. Dr. Shruti Dogra from Aalto University and Artem Melnikov, from MIPT and Terra Quantum disproved the “unitary evolution” theory of quantum mechanics that says missing data can neither be created nor destroyed within a quantum system.
Paraoanu explained to IQT that unitary evolution is like adding, 1 + 1 and getting 2. There is no loss or gain in the calculation.
“However, there is an extension to standard quantum mechanics, which is called non-Hermitian quantum physics, where loss and gain is allowed, and there is a perfectly consistent mathematical formalism that explains it,” Paraoanu said. “So we show that in this case information can be lost or gained as well.”
The second finding refutes Albert Einstein’s seminal research paper from 1935, outlining the EPR Paradox. It’s a theory of entangled qubits, also called “non local” behavior which said any entangled qubit would mirror others in the system. Einstein couldn’t really explain why it was the case, so he referred to it as “spooky action at a distance,” adding, “God does not play dice.”
Turns out Einstein’s discomfort with what he couldn’t prove was well founded.
Under Hermitian rules of quantum mechanics, it isn’t possible to manipulate the degree of entanglement by only engaging with one of the system qubits. But in Paraoanu’s experimental universe, entangled qubits can be independently manipulated, the report explained.
“Nowadays we understand entanglement much better, and we know that Einstein’s criticism is rather unjustified,” Paraoanu said. “In our work we add one more twist to the EPR paradox: in some sense in non-Hermitian quantum physics it turns out that it is possible to change the degree of entanglement by acting locally on one of the particles.”
The team hopes the discovery of new, non- Hermitian quantum mechanics could have applications in the development of optical and microwave-based devices.
“We still want to explore the opportunities brought in by quantum computers,” Paraoanu said. “Nowadays we can not only make theoretical predictions but also verify them on these machines.”

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