An utterly bizarre and incredible phenomenon has just occurred here on Earth from space, and it could change communications forever.
A Chinese satellite floating through space and beaming pairs of entangled photons to two separate locations on Earth just achieved an incredibly amazing and “spooky” effect known as quantum entanglement. In a study published in the journal Science, the particles ended up separated by 746 miles on the ground, but they remained mysteriously connected all the way down.
It’s a huge discovery that could lead to breakthroughs in the field, and perhaps result in the creation of some sort of incredibly secure global communications network with quantum encryption that would be virtually impossible for anyone to crack.
Experts have called quantum entangelment “spooky action at a distance.” It would be as if you flipped two coins and every time they landed, one read heads and the other tails, no matter where the two coins were on Earth. You would know what the other coin would read simply by flipping your own coin.
That’s why this is such a significant discovery. Not only would it have big implications for our understanding of quantum mechanics, it could have serioiusly important practical uses. If you wanted to send a coded message, you could use this method to essentially give them a secure key that only allows them to translate the message. By using this method, if a spy tried to steal the code-breaking info, this would disrupt the entanglement and alert the two people talking that there had been a breach.
“Quantum communication scientists have a fundamental interest in distributing entangled particles over increasingly long distances and studying the behavior of entanglement under extreme conditions,” reads the statement from the University of Science and Technology of China. “So far, entanglement distribution has only been achieved at a distance up to ~100 km due to photon loss in optical fibers or terrestrial free space.
“Distributed entangled photons are readily useful for entanglement-based quantum key distribution, which, so far, is the only way to establish secure keys between two distant locations on Earth without relying on trustful relay. Another immediate application is to exploit distributed entanglement to perform a variant of quantum teleportation protocol for remote preparation and control of quantum states.”