17.6.04

Teleportation

I know this is very important and amazing.

The feat of teleportation is transferring information from atom A to atom C without the two meeting. The third atom, B, is an intermediary.

The three atoms can be thought of as boxes that can contain a 1 or a zero, a bit of information like that used by a conventional computer chip. The promise of quantum computers is that both a zero and a 1 can exist at once, just like the perplexing premise described by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in which a cat in a box can be simultaneously alive and dead until someone looks inside.

First, atoms B and C were brought together, making them "entangled" and creating an invisible link between the two atoms no matter how far apart they were. Atom C was moved away. Next, A and B were similarly entangled.

Then the scientists measured the energy states of A and B, essentially opening the boxes to see whether each contained a 1 or a zero. Because B had been entangled with C, opening A and B created an instant change in atom C, what Albert Einstein called "spooky action at a distance," and this, in essence, set a combination lock on atom C, with the data in A and B serving as the combination.

For the final step, the combination was sent and a pulse of laser light was applied to atom C, almost magically turning it into a replica of the original A. Atom A was teleported to atom C.


Dead cats in boxes? I had no idea quantum mechanics was so twisted...

I think I get the general idea of this, and it's even a little coloquially reported for my taste ("almost magically"?). I do remember something about entanglement from a couple years back when they proved it in Switzerland, I think.

But if there are any physics-minded MuD readers out there who could shed a little light onto this for me, it'd be appreciated. All's I know is that this is damn cool.

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