Teleportation has been around for decades in the realm of science fiction. Most times it works just fine; other times, not so much. Now, however, scientists at the Netherlands’ Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Delft University of Technology have achieved the real thing. Sort of.
Moving Quantum Data Betwixt Quantum Bits
So far, the researchers have only achieved quantum teleportation of quantum data between two quantum bits, but the breakthrough is significant nonetheless. (Quantum data is physical data present in a quantum state; it is used to distinguish one thing from another.) This quantum information—in the form of subatomic particles—was teleported instantaneously from one diamond shard to another, some ten feet away. Perhaps most impressively, the results are 100 percent repeatable.
The unusual properties of quantum entanglement allow the particles to acquire a merged identity, with one instantly influencing the other, regardless of the distance between them. Though Albert Einstein called entanglement “spooky action at a distance,” the Dutch team have repeatedly demonstrated its real-world applicability. I’m don’t know when the last time Einstein was proven wrong about was, so they should probably mark their calendars.
Star Trek Style Human Teleportation A Possiblity?
According to lead researcher Professor Ronald Hanson, nothing in the laws of physics fundamentally restricts the teleportation of larger objects, such as humans. “We are teleporting the state of the particle,” he said. “If you believe we are nothing more than a collection of atoms strung together […], then in principle it should be possible to teleport ourselves from one place to another.
“In practice it’s extremely unlikely,” he added, “but to say it can never work is dangerous. If it ever does happen, it will be far in the future.”
However, making this form of teleportation work on a larger scale could pave the way for a number of more practical applications, including secure communication and quantum computing. “What you’re doing is using entanglement as your communication channel,” Hanson said. “The information is teleported to the other side, and there’s no way anyone can intercept that information. In principle its 100 percent secure.”
A ramped-up version of the experiment, in which the scientists will attempt to teleport information between two buildings more than a kilometer apart, is planned for next month.
The Kavli team’s research has been published in the latest online issue of Science.
- Mirror Online: “Beam me up, Scotty! Teleportation could be become reality in the future.”
- News Tonight Africa: “Quantum Teleporation of Data a Reality”