## "You can have the system behave as if there are two distinct directions of time."

## Future of Computing

Physicists shot a laser pulse sequence mimicking the Fibonacci sequence at a quantum computer and ended up creating a new phase of matter in the process, according to a study published in *Nature** *earlier this year.

They suggest that the newfound phase of matter is particularly robust in preserving information, more so than the methods currently used**.**

It's a potentially massive breakthrough that could allow quantum computers to be far more reliable, since with current technology, keeping qubits in their quantum states is a precarious task.

## Qubit Quandary

In the realm of quantum computing, a one or zero is not stored as an ordinary bit, but a qubit. What distinguishes a qubit is that it can be a one or zero *at the same time*, potentially allowing quantum computers to blaze through far more advanced calculations that take classical computers orders of magnitude longer to complete.

Quantum computers still have a long way to go before reliably achieving that kind of speed or **to** be practical in everyday use. For one, the qubits require an extremely controlled environment in which a slight perturbation, like a minuscule change in temperature, could cause the qubits to lose their quantum states — and their information.

In the experiment, a regular qubit at each end of a line-up of ten atoms retained its quantum state for 1.5 seconds. But when they blasted those atoms with a pulse of laser light to the tune of the Fibonacci numbers — a sequence of numbers where each number is the sum of the two preceding ones — the qubits lasted a whopping 5.5 seconds.

And according to the physicists, the reason that occurs has to do with time itself.

"What we realized is that by using quasi-periodic sequences based on the Fibonacci pattern, you can have the system behave as if there are two distinct directions of time," study lead author Philip Dumistrescu, a research fellow at the Flatiron Institute's Center for Computational Quantum Physics, told *Gizmodo* in a recent interview.

## Erasing Errors

But why the Fibonacci numbers? In essence, when you shoot laser pulses following the Fibonacci numbers, they act as a sort of quasicrystal, the physicists say, a structure of matter that adheres to a pattern, but is not periodic.

In other words, ordered, but not repeating.

"With this quasi-periodic sequence, there's a complicated evolution that cancels out all the errors that live on the edge," Dumistrescu elaborated in a press release. "Because of that, the edge stays quantum-mechanically coherent much, much longer than you’d expect."

**More on quantum computing: ***Scientists Suggest Our Brains Work Like Quantum Computers*