Chinese scientists have sent a photon into space during a real, live teleportation experiment in mid-July, and experts think it’s going to revolutionize computers and the internet.
A photon is a far cry from a candy bar or a television-obsessed little boy, as we saw in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but it’s still a big deal. In fact, it’s the first time anyone has ever been able to teleport anything into space—and it could make a huge difference in the way we communicate over the next few years.
“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,” said the scientists who conducted the experiment. (You can read their paper here.)
The technology the scientists developed involves a satellite called Micius, which was sent up from the Gobi desert in 2016. It’s been orbiting earth since then, waiting to receive photons by spotting and catching them when the scientists attempt to teleport them into space.
It works by using quantum entanglement—a complicated theory and effect that Albert Einstein once described as “spooky action at a distance.” Entanglement isn’t held back by distance, which means two particles can interact with one another, even when they’re incredibly far apart.
Scientists are now looking at how to use quantum entanglement to send messages that are truly received instantly—much faster than texting or sending something through email servers.
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