Teleporting Light: A Breakthrough in Quantum Computing

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Uploaded on April 18, 2011 by newsydotcom

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
ANCHOR CHRISTINA HARTMAN
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The rules of quantum physics are strange, but they allow some pretty bizarre stuff. For instance, a new breakthrough might make super-fast computers possible using teleportation.

ABC Australia reports: “Researchers from Australia and Japan have successfully teleported wave packets of light, potentially revolutionizing quantum communications and computing. … They did it by teleporting the wave packets of light in a ‘Schrodinger's cat’ state.”

The name “Schrodinger’s cat” comes from a famous thought experiment, where a cat in a box can be either alive or dead. The observer can’t know either way -- so to them, the cat is both alive and dead until the box is opened.

The “cat” in this experiment wasn’t an actual feline -- it was packets of light in a Schrodinger’s cat state. In computing terms, it’s like a bit that’s both a one and a zero at the same time. (Image source: Live Science)

The problem with quantum data is getting it from one place to another. That’s where teleportation comes in. It’s a complicated process, but PopSci gives us a layman’s summary.

“In this experiment, researchers ... were able to transfer quantum information from one place to another without having to physically move it. It was destroyed in one place and instantly resurrected in another, ‘alive’ again and unchanged.”

While the idea of teleporting conjures up images of sci-fi movies, that isn’t the main goal of this research. Live Science explains, the earliest payoffs will likely appeal more to tech geeks than sci-fi nerds.

“...there's still a long way to go before anything more complicated can be teleported. … Nonetheless, the new advance could help physicists work toward superfast quantum computers and other applications that come from being able to manipulate things on the quantum scale.”

While this isn’t the first time scientists have successfully teleported objects, it’s the first time they’ve done so without losing any information. That means researchers can finally move on to harder problems in building quantum computers. It’s a lot of work, but a writer for The Escapist says it’s a goal worth aiming for.

“Quantum computers represent a mind-boggling increase in computing speed. They aren't right around the corner yet, but the result of this experiment at least gives them hope for the future.”

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Tags:
Quantum Physics, Computers, Teleportation, Australia, Japan, Wave Packets, Light, Quantum Communication, Schrodingers Cat, Schrodingers Cat State, Researchers, Quantum Information, Tech News, Information, Quantum Computing, Computing Speed, Video News, News & Events
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