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Sommaroy Island

A Norwegian Island hopes to be the first place in the world to abolish time

When people travel to the Nordic island, Sommarøy they have to forget the concept of time. Some of the travellers do this quite straight hence the bridge connecting the fishing village to the mainland is sprinkled with many discarded watches.

In West Tromsø which is located to the north of the Arctic Circle time is of very little significance. The sun does not rise in winter while for 69 summer days it never sets. This place is one of the extremes so its residents are now proposing a very extreme measure. Resident Kjell Hveding of 56 years, a human resources worker is leading the petition for the place to be the first time-free zone in the world. He told CNN that for many of the residents, getting this approved officially would only mean formalizing a practice that has been done for generations.

In Norwegian, Sommarøy means Summer Island which holds true for a part of the year. This time period is free-for-all as both children and grown-ups can alike can take calls at 2am, garden at midnight and swim at unusual times. Hveding told CBC that the discussions of the government about the new law regarding wintertime or summertime are insignificant here as it does not affect the citizens in any way. People here in the north of Arctic Circle lead a very different kind of life.

Hveding managed to gather close to 100 signatures which is nearly a third of the total population and he gave the list to the local member of parliament. The details of the proposal are not completely clear, as many have criticized the move as a way to boost the tourism of the place, while some feel it is just a symbolic move.

If the normal timekeeping method is abolished then it would mean removing the strict rigidity of a schedule from the lives of people. However even then, people need to go to work, attend schools or meet their friends.

What is to be accepted is that the daily rhythms of a human body follow the sun and not the clocks. Human beings have adapted the 24 hour cycle which is due to Earth’s rotation. Several of the activities performed by the human body follow the 24 hour routine. This internal body clock is followed by every organ in the body, so even though people who spent a lot of time inside caves lost the sense of time, their bodies still followed the same 24 hour cycle.
So we may choose to discard clocks but we cannot discard time.

Simple Qubits

Scientists reversed time using quantum computer

Have you ever imagined the infused tea flowing back into the tea bag or a volcano from “erupting” in reverse? We cannot imagine about these things because we have learned about the second law of thermodynamics which states that the total entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time. A group of researcher scientist from Russia teamed up with the scientist from the U.S. and Switzerland in order to challenge this fundamental law of energy.

The study’s lead author Gordey Lesovik who heads the Laboratory of the Physics of Quantum Information Technology at MIPT states that “This research is one of the series which adds up to violating the second law of thermodynamics which is closely associated with the notion of arrow of time that puts in position the one way direction of time from past to future.”

The physicists tried to understand if time could reverse itself for a tiny fraction of a second for a particle. They tried to do this by two methods – first by experimenting the electron in empty interstellar space.

Andrey Lebedev co-author from MIPT and ETH Zurich stated that “If we consider an electron in space and we begin to observe it, we can come to know the position of it. If not the position but at least the area can be decided since the laws of quantum mechanics don’t allow us to understand the exact position of the electron.”

The physicist then adds “The evolution of electron can be explained by Schrödinger’s equation. However, it makes no distinction between the past and the future, the region of space containing the electron will spread out very quickly. The uncertainty of the electron’s position is growing.”

Quantum mechanics travelling wavefunctions

Quantum mechanics travelling wavefunctions (Credit: Maschen/ wikimedia)

Valerii Vinokur, a co-author of the paper, from the Argonne National Laboratory, U.S. adds to the discussion that “Mathematically, it means that under a certain condition of transformation called complex conjugation, the equation will describe a smeared electron localizing back into a small region of space over the same time period. However, this is only possible theoretically and not practically.”

The second method of experimentation was done with the help of quantum computing instead of electrons, made out of two or three basic elements called superconducting qubits. They have four stages of the experiment.

The four stages are as follows:

  • Stage 1: Order
    In the first stage, like the electron was imagined to be localized in space, here, the qubit is initialized in a stage called the zero stage.
  • Stage 2: Degradation
    Similar to the electron being smeared out over an increasingly large region of space, the qubits leave the zero stage and become a complex pattern of zeros and ones.
  • Stage 3: Time Reversal
    In this stage similar to the electron being induced to fluctuation by microwave, here, a special program modifies the state of the quantum computer in such a way that it would then evolve “backward”, from chaos toward order.
  • Stage 4: Regeneration
    Again the evolution program starts from stage 2. Provided that the “kick “ has been launched successfully. The program reverses the state of qubits back into the past.
    It was observed that where two qubits were involved, the success rate was around 85 percent, but where 3 qubits or more than 3 qubits were involved more errors happened and it resulted in only 50 percent of the success rate.

Published Researchhttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-40765-6