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FQXI ARTICLE

January 18, 2018

Six Degrees to the Emergence of Reality

Physicists are racing to complete a new model of *quantum complex networks* that tackles the physical nature of time and paradoxical features of emergence of classical reality from the quantum world.

FQXi Awardees: Jacob Biamonte

January 1, 2015

Jacob Biamonte

Institute for Scientific Interchange

But this game highlights what turns out to be an interesting and quite common phenomenon:

About 15 years ago, physicist Albert-László Barabási, now at Northeastern University while studying the complexity of the World Wide Web, created a network model to illustrate how a relatively small number of websites receives the majority of browsing hits, while the majority of sites on the internet share the remaining amount of traffic. This and related realizations led to the development of a whole new branch within the field of network science and is based on the idea that social and biological networks follow non-random patterns. (See "Embracing Complexity.") But can aspects of quantum physics be expressed in terms of a quantum theory of complex networks? Theoretical physicist Jacob Biamonte is now grappling with that question. If successful, this new line of thinking could help explain how familiar everyday physics—and even time’s arrow—emerge from the fuzzy quantum realm.

Jacob Biamonte explains the emergence of reality and the arrow of time to Carinne Piekema.

LISTEN:

Biamonte, an FQXi awardee who leads a theory group currently hosted at the Institute for Scientific Interchange in Torino in Italy, describes the importance of network theory with a simple example that explains why the rich find it easy to get richer: "If you have a million dollars, you are a million times more likely to get an extra dollar than someone who only has one dollar, according to this model." That is because when you have a network in which one node has many connections, if another node enters the network, it is highly likely that this new node will also connect to a highly connected node.

The challenge is to now think about quantum physics in such a framework. "It’s already enlightening to think-up quantum generalizations of even this simplistic idea," Biamonte says.

Quantum Networks

One of the benefits of thinking about quantum networks is that it could help understand how the weird quantum realm transitions to the very different visible "classical" reality around us. When I put my coffee cup down on the table to write the next sentence, I know my cup will stay there. Yet, according to quantum mechanics, my cup

Seeing the Forest Through the Trees

Partial map of the Internet based on the January 15, 2005 data found on

opte.org. Each line is drawn between two nodes, representing two IP addresses.

Credit: The Opte Project. Originally from the English Wikipedia

Time’s Arrow

One of the discrepancies between the classical world and the quantum world is how our world is governed by the passage of time, which only flows in one direction, from the past to the future. When watching videos in the olden days, if you accidentally hit

Small quantum information

processes can be used to

explore big questions

about nature.

processes can be used to

explore big questions

about nature.

- Seth Lloyd

"To verify this effect, we’ve written several papers and in the process we ended up putting this theory of time reversal symmetry into the language of quantum information science," explains Biamonte. His collaborator, Seth Lloyd, an FQXi member and professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, explains that they have shown that things work differently in a universe that is perfectly time symmetric, compared with a universe that has only approximate time symmetry.

"Time and reality are large concepts and hard to grapple with," says Lloyd. "Our work shows that there are counterintuitive subtleties in the physical nature of time and is an example of how small quantum information processes can be used to explore big questions about nature."

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Please read the important Introduction that governs your participation in this community. Inappropriate language will not be tolerated and posts containing such language will be deleted. Otherwise, this is a free speech Forum and all are welcome!

Recent Comments

NARSEP wrote on January 8, 2016

Spacetime is a sytem that we suppose consists of one time dimension and three space dimensions. I wonder whether space dimensions are pure space dimensions (they do not incorporate time as well). In other words by Universe's expansion (and hence space expansion) time may HAS to follow the direction it follows.

For example: 1. if T=t and S=t+s, where T,S are the real time and space and t,s are the measured time and space then 2. t=S-s always positive if S>s (SPACE MEASURED IS SMALLER...

Spacetime is a sytem that we suppose consists of one time dimension and three space dimensions. I wonder whether space dimensions are pure space dimensions (they do not incorporate time as well). In other words by Universe's expansion (and hence space expansion) time may HAS to follow the direction it follows.

For example: 1. if T=t and S=t+s, where T,S are the real time and space and t,s are the measured time and space then 2. t=S-s always positive if S>s (SPACE MEASURED IS SMALLER...

FRANK MARTIN DIMEGLIO wrote on November 12, 2015

The emergence of reality fundamentally and necessarily involves our growth and becoming other than we are.

The emergence of reality fundamentally and necessarily involves our growth and becoming other than we are.

JONATHAN J. DICKAU wrote on March 23, 2015

Aye aye Captain..

Certainly fractals have much to teach us, about the nature of the universe and natural law. I bookmarked your blog for later reference.

Regards,

Jonathan

Aye aye Captain..

Certainly fractals have much to teach us, about the nature of the universe and natural law. I bookmarked your blog for later reference.

Regards,

Jonathan

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