Quantum Teleportation is Real

July 14, 2010 at 5:00 am 4 comments

By Chad Upton

We know a lot about the world around us. We have a pretty good understanding of forces such as gravity and magnetic fields. We know a lot about barely visible subatomic particles and even invisible energy such as radio waves.

We can control and measure most of these amazing things and they really are amazing. Think back over a thousand years. Could you imagine what it was like when magnets were first discovered? The amazement, confusion and challenge to explain how they worked.

Due to recent developments, we are in a similar state of fascination.

When you read “quantum teleportation” in the title,  you probably had visions of something from Star Trek where people and objects are transported from one location to another. That is teleportation but it’s not quantum teleportation.

In quantum teleportation, no visible object is moved from one place to another. Rather, quantum information is moved from one place to another.

It starts with entanglement of two atoms or particles such as ions or photons. In simple terms, they are “tied” together. When separated, something amazing can be observed. Changing the state of one, the state of the other changes to match. This phenomena has been observed when the two have been separated by a distance of a few meters (10 feet), 16 km (10 miles) and even 144 km (89 miles).

No, it won’t let you visit your grandma in Montana and your other grandma in Malta on the same day, but the potential is still amazing.

You’ve probably seen a satellite interview on TV noticed there is a huge delay between the two people talking. That’s what happens when shipping information to space and back on each side of the screen. But, Quantum information moves extremely fast so there would be negligible delay if it could one day be used for communication (it can’t for now).

Although a bit awkward sometimes, we can live with delayed satellite interviews. But, as we try to explore deep space, communication delays could become a factor that prevents or severely delays exploration. One day, cell phones might use this technology to eliminate dropped calls and dead zones. In communications, the possibilities are endless.

We can’t even imagine how this might affect other areas of science and that’s because we don’t really understand how it works. But, scientists believe these entangled particles exist in nature and there are potentially billions of them. Of course, we don’t know which ones they are or where the other half of their entangled pair is. Maybe there is some truth behind the notion that one twin feels something when their identical twin experiences something traumatic. Maybe there’s even some science to prove it.

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Sources: Wikipedia (QT), Quantum (Entangled QT, First QT),  The Future of Things , Ars Technica

Photo: Thomas Shahan (cc)

Entry filed under: Demystified, Geek. Tags: , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jason W  |  July 14, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I just wanted to comment that while the science here is pretty interesting stuff, I believe that some of the info you have isn’t quite right and could be misleading.

    “Changing the state of one, also changes the state of the other.”

    More accurately, when the state of one changes, the state of the other changes to match. The problem is, these changes aren’t caused by us, and are random. For this reason, they can not be used to send information.

    “But, Quantum information moves faster than the speed of light so there would be negligible delay if it could be used for communication.”

    Actually, nothing moves faster than the speed of light. Since the changes in these paired particles are random, they are not actually transmitting any information, it’s just random movement. If you could use these particles for communication, that would mean that the information was traveling faster than the speed of light, which would violate known laws of physics.

    On a side note, this science is very similar to the basis of the “ansible” system that allows instantaneous communication in the Ender series of books by Orson Scott Card. While the concept is extremely cool, alas, science fiction is just that.

    Reply
    • 2. Chad Upton  |  July 14, 2010 at 11:51 pm

      Thanks Jason. I added some clarification to the post to make it as accurate as possible. The Ars Technica source touches on using it for communication one day and I think that’s an interesting concept.

      Reply
      • 3. Jason W  |  July 15, 2010 at 12:54 am

        Thanks for the consideration. It is very interesting stuff. Who knows what science will come up with one day?

    • 4. Bean  |  February 7, 2011 at 10:33 am

      Jason,

      I would like to point out that at one time, almost all modern conveniences were in the realm of “science fiction” including the “communicator” on my hip that my wife is constantly keeping tabs on me with (ala, Star Trek). Beam me up Scottie!! LOL

      Reply

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