Chinese scientists have just shattered a record in teleportation. No, they haven't beamed anyone up to a spaceship. Rather, they sent a packet of information from Tibet to a satellite in orbit, up to 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) above the Earth's surface.
More specifically, the scientists beamed the quantum state of a photon (information about how it is polarized) into orbit.
Not only did the team set a record for quantum teleportation distance, they also showed that one can build a practical system for long-distance quantum communications. Such a communication system would be impossible to eavesdrop on without alerting the users, which would make online communications much more secure.
Experiments like this have been done before, but Howard Wiseman, director of the Center for Quantum Dynamics at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, told Live Science in an email that this one expands the possibilities for the technology. [10 Futuristic Technologies 'Star Trek' Fans Would Love to See]
"This is much more difficult, because it is to a rapidly moving target, and you have your quantum detectors way out in space where they have to work without anyone fiddling with them," he said. "It is a big step towards global-scale quantum communication."
The experiment takes advantage of one of several phenomena that describes quantum mechanics: entanglement, or "spooky action at a distance," as Albert Einstein called it..
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