The paper explaining that this Nature cover story, besides being a publicity stunt, was also completely wrong, has so far attracted very little media attention. The first thing I’ve seen came out today at New Scientist, a publication often accused of promoting hype, but in this case so far the only one reporting problems with the hyped result. The title of the article is Google’s quantum computer simulation of a wormhole may not have worked. It contains an explanation of the technical problems:
The first problem has to do with how the simulated wormhole reacted to the signals being sent through it….Yao and his colleagues found that for each individual test, the system continued to oscillate indefinitely, which doesn’t match the expected behaviour of a wormhole.
The second issue was related to the signals themselves. One of the signatures of a real wormhole – and therefore of a good holographic representation of a wormhole – is that the signal comes out looking the same as it went in. Yao and his team found that while this worked for some signals – those similar to the ones the researchers used to train a machine learning algorithm used to simplify the system – it didn’t work for others.
…it seems that for this particular quantum system, the size winding would disappear if the model was made larger or more detailed. Therefore, the perfect size winding observed by the original authors may just be a relic of the model’s small size and simplicity.
There is a response from Maria Spiropulu:
“The authors of the comment argue about the many-body properties of the individual decoupled quantum systems of our model,” she says. “We observed features of the coupled systems consistent with traversable wormhole teleportation.”
Remarkably, Lenny Susskind throws the authors of the stunt under the bus:
“What is not so clear is whether the experiment is any better than garden-variety quantum teleportation and does it really capture the features of macroscopic general relativity that the authors might like to claim… only in the most fuzzy of ways (at best),” he says.