This story was spotted by many readers here, and passed along to me, and for good reason, because that internet of things just took another gigantic step, for Chinese scientists have now successfully teleported an electron from the ground to a satellite 300 miles up in space:
Before you start having visions of "beaming up to the Enterprise" and the goofy Gramscian empire-disguised-as-a-federation that it represents, the real import here, as the story relates, are the implications for a "quantum based internet" all based on the principles of entanglement, and if I may add, non-locality.
The real implications here are thus not for any "just around the corner" Star Trek fantasias, but rather for communications, security, and most importantly, secure financial clearing, for what the article is not telling you is that the Chinese have also been successful in similar photon-quantum entanglement experiments and "teleporting" them into space, sending and receiving them accurately 900 out of 900 times. Ponder that one, for it means there's (1) no signal to noise problem, (2) no attenuation of the signal, (3) no loss of data, and most importantly, (4) is utterly secure, for in the wonderful world of entanglement, one must know the exact waveform of the entanglement taking place. This mathematical description thus also functions as a kind of "encryption-decryption" key, making such communication methods much more secure than their current counterparts. Or at least, that's the theory (I remain skeptical of the claim for the simple reason that humans inevitably find ways around things, including the most secure bank vault. But that's a speculation for another time.)
The implications of that in turn are profound, for in a world where data, communications, and financial clearing are moving to space-based platforms, security and accurate data transmission are the key, and whoever cracks the problem first will dominate the future commercial and financial world; if you're planning to mine asteroids, or have a global currency or even several regional currencies, the advantage will accrue to that power which establishes those secure quantum networks. That "key" thus functions, in the emerging world, in a way analogous to the way navies have functioned in relationship to reserve currencies thus far: the country with the most powerful navy has been the country whose currency has reserve currency status. Entanglement permits not only the secure and accurate transmission of data, but also its rapid transmission.
But now, as always, let's crawl to the end of the twig of high octane speculation, and speculate wildly beyond the evidence. We're in Wile E. Coyote territory here, suspended above a chasm, arms and legs flailing, with nothing beneath us but, perhaps, an animated "kerplop" waiting for us at the end of our fall. As the article avers, the Chinese have now managed to "teleport" an electron, a thing, no matter how small or tiny in mass, from one point to another. We know the progression from our elementary school physics days (that is, if they're still teaching anything about physics in our schools): electrons, protons, neutrons, then atoms themselves, then molecules... you get the picture: the next steps in the technology tree, as we step from photons to electrons in our entanglement-teleportation experiments, will be the other sub-atomic particles, and from there (if successful), to whole atoms, then to molecules, then to... once again, you get the picture. And as I've said, if you plan to mine asteroids and have any sort of permanent presence in deep space, then chemical rockets are not - I repeat - simply are not adequate nor cost-effective to the job. The German physicist Burckhart Heim recognized this decades ago, and hence, one needs a "breakthrough" of some sort - a "warp drive" or a teleportation technology, or both - to make it genuinely practical and cost effective and (note) fraught with much less risk.
Which brings me back to the subject of yesterday's blog, and the story of an AI at Lawrence Livermore (no space-related connections there! [Cough]) that has been tasked with combing through old scientific papers looking for forgotten or anomalous data and concepts. I don't know about you, but it's a safe bet that one of the things it might be programmed to look for are clues that might help solve some of those entanglement/teleportation and "warp drive" mysteries, mysteries which might be solved by some sort of exotic matter, which, let us recall, was also one of the areas that the Livermore AI was also looking in: materials science.
See you on the (kerplop) flip side...
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