The day when we’ll be able to tell Scotty to beam us up is a little bit closer, as today we just got word about a huge technological breakthrough, as a team of Chinese researchers managed to teleport a photon from Earth to orbit. Do you know what that means, right? One small step for photons, one giant leap for teleportation!
The thing is, even if teleportation may sound like science fiction for now, this is the first time when scientists teleported a photon from the Earth’s surface to a satellite orbiting the planet. This apparently minute step forward took them 20 years, i.e. 2 decades ago quantum scientists successfully teleported a photon over a ten mile distance, thus proving Schrodinger’s theory about quantum entanglement to be correct.
If you don’t know what quantum entanglement is,well, to put it in layman’s terms, this theory states that multiple (quantum) particles (such as photons and electrons, which are physical particles that can’t be divided any further) are linked together in such a way that if you try to measure one’s particle quantum state, you’ll also determine the possible quantum states of the other particles, regardless of their location in space, such as even if 2 of the entangled particles are separated by millions of miles, a change in one particle will produce a change in the other.
This is pretty heavy stuff, quantum physics that is, but today’s experiment just proved that quantum entanglement also known as spooky action at distance is perfectly possible. Photons are quantum objects sharing a wave function (in technical terms, they are described by the same wave function.), hence they also share the same identity, even if they’re separated and what happens to one also happens to its “brother”, wherever its location in space. Today’s experiment teleported a photon from a ground station at 2,5 miles above sea level to 310 miles away, to a satellite orbiting the Earth.
This is only the beginning, but today’s breakthrough has the potential to revolutionize the world and to change it radically, as quantum teleportation has ground breaking applications in unhackable cryptography and uber-high speed communications. It’s also worth noticing that China is currently dominating the quantum teleportation field (they recently launched a military quantum satellite which is unhackable even by the NSA), a field that was led until recently by the US and Europe.