Physicists Confirm That Time Moves Forward Even in The Quantum World

For the first time, an experiment has confirmed that the laws of thermodynamics apply even at the quantum level – which means that even in the quantum world, you can’t unspill that glass of milk.

The second law of thermodynamics states that all systems become more disordered, or increase in entropy, over time, which is why time runs the way it does in our daily lives. And because that process is irreversible, time only moves forward. However, theoretical physicists predicted that the process could go both ways at the quantum level.

That’s because when you start dealing with really, really small particles, the laws of physics – such as the Schrödinger equation – are ‘time-symmetric’ or reversible. “In theory, forward and backward microscopic processes are indistinguishable,” writes Lisa Zyga for

Now, physicists from Brazil’s Federal University of ABC have conducted an experiment that confirms that those theories do not correspond to reality, with thermodynamic processes remaining irreversible even in quantum systems. But they still don’t understand why this is the case.

“Our experiment shows the irreversible nature of quantum dynamics, but does not pinpoint, experimentally, what causes it at the microscopic level, what determines the onset of the arrow of time,” one of the researchers, Mauro Paternostro from Queen’s University in Ireland, told “Addressing it would clarify the ultimate reason for its emergence.”

So, how do you put thermodynamic laws to the test in a quantum system? Basically, scientists must be able to isolate a quantum system and observe the reversal of a natural process – which is more difficult than it sounds.

The researchers used a bunch of carbon-13 atoms in liquid chloroform to flip their nuclear spins using an oscillating magnetic field for this experiment. They then used a second magnetic pulse to reverse the spins once more.

“If the procedure were reversible, the spins would have returned to their starting points – but they didn’t,” writes Zyga.

Instead, they observed that the alternating magnetic pulses were applied so quickly that the atoms’ spin couldn’t keep up, causing the isolated system to become out of equilibrium.

The physicists confirmed that the entropy increased after the experiment, demonstrating that the thermodynamic process was irreversible, regardless of how small the particles involved were.

All of this basically means that the one-way arrow of time exists even for the smallest particles in the Universe, defying the laws of physics at the microscopic level. And it suggests that something else is getting involved to stop quantum systems from being reversible.

The physicists are now trying to figure out what that is, and they believe that the new insight into quantum systems will help accelerate the march toward quantum computers and other quantum devices.

“Any progress towards the management of finite-time thermodynamic processes at the quantum level is a step forward towards the realization of a fully fledged thermo-machine that can exploit the laws of quantum mechanics to overcome the performance limitations of classical devices,” said Paternostro.

For now though, we can take away from this research the knowledge that we can’t move backwards in time, as much as we might want to. The past really has passed… even on the atomic scale.

Physicists Confirm That Time Moves Forward Even in The Quantum World Physicists Confirm That Time Moves Forward Even in The Quantum World Reviewed by Rauf ahmed on April 21, 2022 Rating: 5


  1. “If the procedure were reversible, the spins would have returned to their starting points – but they didn’t,” writes Zyga. This is not true. They wouldn't be able to get the carbon-13 particles to return back to their starting points anyway because those particles have a third pole inside, and when the balance of which is disrupted, changes the axis of spin. Another reason is that the electromagnetic radiation from the pulses slightly affect space-time (hence the change in spin) and therefore affect the original uniform fabric of the particle's surrounding space-time, adding to entropic imbalances. The only way to check this experiment properly is to send the pulses at the same time on opposite sides making an equal-sided elliptical electro-magnetic "envelope", and see if the spin axis shifts, which it will eventually because the inner third pole will essentially (over time) become imbalanced. Therefore the only REAL way to tell if the particles are subject to the same thermo-dynamical arrow of the space-time continuum is to watch a quantum particle and see if it ever decays. Essentially though, that kind of experiment, (if it never decays) only yields true results WHILE you're watching it, so you can never ACUTALLY write down a finite result.

    1. any scientist knows that particles have 3 poles. That's what the math says, and I can prove it.


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