The effect happens when a small attempt to change the past not only succeeds, but reverberates exponentially and unexpectedly in the future.
An eventual time travel would not be so dangerous for potential adventurers, at least in the quantum world, because the well-known “butterfly effect”, in which a small change in the past would affect the cascading future in an unpredictable way, has not been confirmed, second a statement from scientists who studied the phenomenon through simulations.
The researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA, reported having used a quantum computer with an IBM-Q processor, which Nikolai Sinitsyn, a theoretical physicist at the institution and co-author of the work, claims to reproduce the experiment well.
The results, detailed in a study published in Physical Review Letters, they demonstrated that causing small local damage in the past within the quantum environment causes small local damage in the present of this universe. Even more surprising was that an attempt to travel to an even more remote past brought even less change, as did larger worlds.
“So we can really see what happens to a complex quantum world if we travel through time, add minor damage and come back. We find that our world survives, which means that there is no butterfly effect on quantum mechanics,” says Sinitsyn.
The findings also mean that information on the computer can be hidden and preserved by converting its state to a different one, speculates Bin Yan, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and co-author of the research.
The “butterfly effect” was first described in a 1952 science fiction story called “A Sound of Thunder”, by American author Ray Bradbury, in which one of the prehistoric time travelers moves away from trail left by travelers and steps on a butterfly, which causes unexpected changes when he returns to his time.