Some of the best science-fiction films have a form of teleportation. It’s also some people’s main picks if they had a super power. Instead of sitting in traffic for hours on end, you could just jump in a device that teleports you to work or a party.
Unfortunately, we’ve only been able to see that in movies. Until now…sort of.
A team of Chinese researchers has teleported a photon from the Gobi Desert in northern China, to a satellite in space. A photon is a particle which allows light to be carried over space. The team achieved this remarkable process through ‘quantum entanglement’.
According to Technology Review, this is when two quantum objects, like photons, form at the same instance technically have the same wave function. The second photon is a mirror image of the first because it will imitate its identity, therefore sharing the exact same qualities. It’s similar to the idea of online file sharing, but once you download that data, the original file is deleted.
If you’re still struggling, this video is pretty handy in deciphering everything.
There have been previous experiments, but scientists couldn’t seem to teleport the photon more than 100 kilometres due to atmospheric interference. But this Chinese team have done it over five times that distance. The way they tackled that issue was to build a ground station at an altitude of four thousand metres.
In a statement, the team says: “We report the first quantum teleportation of independent single-photon qubits from a ground observatory to a low Earth orbit satellite-through an up-link channel- with a distance up to 1400 km.
“This work establishes the first ground-to-satellite up-link for faithful and ultra-long-distance quantum teleportation, an essential step toward global-scale quantum internet.”
They managed to entangle roughly four thousand photons per second on the ground and then beamed one of the two into the satellite.
While this is a huge step forward, don’t start getting ready to say ‘Beam me up Scotty’ any time soon. The entanglement and eventual teleportation process is incredibly fragile, so if you sent a human being, their particles might break up during the transfer and you’d cease to exist.
Featured Image Credit: PA