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You Guys, Teleportation Is Real!

And it's happening
You Guys, Teleportation Is Real!

Alright, not exactly. And certainly not for people. But for cybersecurity, we’re getting close! This week researchers “teleported” or transmitted quantum encrypted data over 63 miles, which is more than four times the length of the previous record.

Alright, not exactly. And certainly not for people. But for cybersecurity, we’re getting close! This week researchers “teleported” or transmitted quantum encrypted data over 63 miles, which is more than four times the length of the previous record.

Detailed on Wednesday in a research in Optica, the lead author of the study, Hiroki Takesue didn’t exactly make it light reading, but the ramifications for the real world are pretty mind blowing anyways.

Apparently fiber optic networks have become the norm for cable infrastructure, which means also for broadband Internet. There is a downside though, the light pulses that carry the data diminish over distance. This is why fiber optic networks use pulse boosters to amplify the original signal.

Which means normally on a fiber optic network, you send millions or billions of photons, which is a “classical” light pulse. So with this traditional network, you start with a billion photons, and as they travel, the number gets smaller, let’s say a million. Then the repeaters boost the light pulse, which duplicates the photons.

The thing is, quantum physics works a bit differently. In fact, the opposite: it works on individual photons, the smallest particles of light that can’t be divided.

In traditional mechanics, any physical state of any object is known. Which is why we know the mass, weight, etc when the object is moving. Take a bowling ball, you know what will happen to the ball and objects it will hit, when hit in a specific way.

In quantum physics, though, particles like a photon are actually in two states at once, which means it can’t be predicted. This is called “superposition”.

In the experiment conducted by Takesue, they teleport a photon in superposition. Actually, they use three photons to conduct the experiment. An input photon, a helper photon, and an output photon. The last two will always have photons in the same state, and are linked.

In his experiment, Takesue destroys the first photon which makes the helper photon learn its state, and then “transfer” that to the output photon.

But because there isn’t knowledge of the original photon’s state, this helps solve the dilemma. This way it is guaranteed that the arriving photon will be in the same state, which makes this perfect for encryption.

The biggest problem at hand is still the limitations of light-based networks.

Because each photon has to the stay the same, and a copy won’t always stay in the same state. So the ability to teleport photons 50 miles instead of 5 miles means that data encryption is becoming more of a reality every day. And who knows? Maybe one day, people, too.

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