Quantum Correlations Reverse Thermodynamic Arrow of Time

Katia Moskvitch in Quanta:

Thermodynamics_1300ledeSome laws aren’t meant to be broken. Take the second law of thermodynamics, which states that entropy — a measure of disorder — never decreases in an isolated system. Glass shatters, cream disperses in coffee, eggs scramble — but never the reverse. This is why heat always moves from hot to cold: Doing so increases the overall entropy. The law is so fundamental to our physical reality that some physicists believe it is responsible for the apparent flow of time.

Yet quantum systems, as ever, have a way of introducing puzzling exceptions to what seem like inviolable rules. A team of physicists has made heat flow spontaneously from a cold quantum object to a hot one. The experiment underscores the intimate relationships between information, entropy and energy that are being explored in the nascent field of quantum thermodynamics.

The team, based in Brazil, took a molecule that consisted of a carbon atom, a hydrogen atom and three chlorine atoms. They then generated a magnetic field to align the nuclear spins of the two quantum particles, or “qubits” — the carbon and hydrogen nuclei. This caused the nuclei to become linked, or correlated, turning them into a single, inseparable whole, a two-qubit quantum state.

These correlations made the puzzling behavior possible.

More here.