One of the biggest problems with communications technology may soon be solved. Scientists working on one of the earliest forms of discrete quantum communication have demonstrated that the principle working behind instantaneous long-distance communication is possible. And not only that, the future may include forms of communication that are impossible to intercept.
Early analysis of the project has armchair physicists excited about the possibility of both faster than light communication and the possibility of instantaneous encoding. With the world’s first solid state quantum computer encased in a diamond just recently hitting the presses, it seems we will have a big future with the tiniest computers thought possible. But what advantages and disadvantages may come with it?
While the experiment in quantum computing has been credited with “breaking” the laws of physics, experts are warning that this is not strictly the case. While the entangled atoms involved are processing information in conjunction, the actual transmission of information from one to another is happening via a photon fired along a fiber optic cable.
The major breakthrough here is the way in which both atoms react similarly to this same photon as it is transmitted. Whereas before the message being transmitted would have to have been encoded in the actual light being transmitted, the entanglement of these two atoms allows scientists to manipulate the atoms similarly at a distance without including that manipulation in the transmission itself. Essentially the only two points where the information exists would be the actual atoms themselves. And if we can eliminate one more moving part of the communications network, the first quantum communications hub may actually be able to instantaneously transmit information from one to the next.
What would it mean if communications could break the light barrier? The fact that this information could be traveling faster than the speed of light isn’t strictly true. In reality, scientists would have to discover a way to get the entangled atoms to superposition themselves in two different places at the same time and manipulate them without causing them to lose their entanglement. The movement of atoms would happen simultaneously despite the fact that one was in a laboratory on Earth and the other was somewhere on Mars. Of course there are several problems between that point and now that will have to be overcome by ingenuity and hard research, and there are many in the quantum physics community who suggest such a feat is impossible – a word that has been overcome repeatedly in the past.
If communication were instantaneous, this would mean instant communication between different parts of the world would be possible, communications would no longer be disrupted by barriers (cell phones in tunnels, etc.) and it would require significantly less energy to communicate globally once the apparatus that entangles atoms was downsized. If it is remotely possible, you can bet we will be hearing about quantum entanglement again in the future. In the mean time, this current technology will offer a means of encrypting information for those with the resources in a temporarily near-flawless manner.