The framework might also provide inspiration for experimentalists working on condensed matter. Rob Myers, a string theorist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, says that he expects it to be relevant to an area called quantum quenches, in which quantum systems evolve in isolation from the environment and are then kicked out of equilibrium by an action of the experimentalist. Condensed-matter physicists have developed several quantum systems — including cold-atom traps and superconducting circuits — that can be used to test this idea.
Although the authors lay out their solution in only one dimension, Myers expects that the approach will readily generalize to describe real experiments in three dimensions. But he cautions that the paper represents only a first step. “To really see the impact of this work, that will take a while,” he says.