In the 2018 movie Infinity War, a scene featured Dr. Strange looking into 14 million possible futures to search for a single timeline where the heroes would be victorious.
Perhaps he would have had an easier time with help from a quantum computer. A team of researchers from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and Griffith University in Australia have constructed a prototype quantum device that can generate all possible futures in a simultaneous quantum superposition.
“When we think about the future, we are confronted by a vast array of possibilities,” explains Assistant Professor Mile Gu of NTU Singapore, who led development of the quantum algorithm that underpins the prototype:
“These possibilities grow exponentially as we go deeper into the future. For instance, even if we have only two possibilities to choose from each minute, in less than half an hour there are 14 million possible futures. In less than a day, the number exceeds the number of atoms in the universe.”
What he and his research group realized, however, was that a quantum computer can examine all possible futures by placing them in a quantum superposition – similar to Schrödinger’s famous cat that is simultaneously alive and dead.