Sit Down, Robin Hood

Over on Twitter I found something that may be the biggest deal of your lifetime. It could also be junk science, so don’t quit your day job yet.

Caveats first: this event occurred in quantum physics, which is seriously the science of the strange. The event that happened involved just two subatomic particles, of which there are billions in just your finger. The event falls apart when even a third particle is involved.

Framework next: in quantum particle physics, every particle is surrounded by a set rings called a probability wave. The ring is composed of all the places that the particle could be at that point in time. As time moves forward, the rings get bigger, like when you drop a nickel in a pond.

Now the event: using a quantum computer comprised of only two particles, a researcher at Argonne National Laboratory was able to get, for the briefest, tiniest bit of time, a particle’s probability wave to get smaller rather than larger.

More than that, he was able to get it to happen reliably, like an 85% success rate.

So what: so, the expanding probability wave is evidence of the particle’s passage through time. The farther forward the particle passes through time, the bigger the wave.

Making the wave smaller also reflects the passage of time, but BACKWARDS.

Backwards. Negative time travel. He sent the particle back through time.

Back to the caveats: it’s only at the quantum level, and entropy cancels it out with the addition of just one more particle.

So what II: this is the first evidence we’ve EVER SEEN that the arrow of time is not a fixed direction. We’ve known that it’s possible for a particle to be at two locations simultaneously, bypassing time.

But we’ve never seen evidence that the arrow of time can point the other way.

Robin Hood let’s fly his arrow good and true to win the hand of Maid Marion. Since then we’ve realized how fundamentally wrong it was to treat women like property.

Now maybe it’s time to reconsider that old adage “time flies like an arrow!”

Author: John D Reinhart

Author, technical writer, videographer, actor, and naval historian John D Reinhart is a very busy guy. You can find his novels as

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