Science

Arm Photon Torpedoes

Will Star Trek be in our future?  Will photon torpedoes be a real and present danger?  Probably not, but some of the technology will be.  Quantum teleportation already exists and is being perfected as I write this.

No, you won’t actually be able to say, “Beam me up, Scotty.”  Nothing will actually be physically transported, but information about that object will be.  The receiving end will be able to reconstruct that information into an approximation of the original object.

photon teleportation
Photon teleportation is now possible, but not yet perfected.
Image: Shutterstock

“The techniques laid out in two new studies are major steps toward developing quantum computers and ensuring secure communication over quantum networks,” says physicist Eugene Polzik of the University of Copenhagen.

The current trouble with quantum teleportation is that the items being transported are so fragile.  Even measuring them changes them in a way so that they appear differently to the receiver.  That makes the process inconsistent.  In 1997 physicists got the process to work once in a while.  Only a tiny percentage of what they sent got transported.

The exciting news is that physicists are now saying they can teleport photons over longer distances via fiber-optic cables.  Yet that is still shaky.

The most important achievement in the last month is that physicist Andreas Wallraff at ETH Zurich, and his team, came up with a way to transport things in a solid state such as a computer chip.  It works in almost every try and can do so at about 10,000 times per second.  This far surpasses the rate of past efforts.   This holds merit for the future of quantum computers.

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