Quantum Communication Isn't Just For Illusive Men Anymore

In Mass Effect 2, the mysterious Illusive Man was able to stay in touch with the Normandy at any point in the universe using quantum entanglement. Chinese scientists have used similar technology to "teleport" data nearly 16km away.

Calling the process teleportation is a bit of a stretch, but quantum entanglement is just as fantastic as the prospect of transmitting matter across thin air, made slightly spookier by the fact that it actually works.

Here's what happens: particles can become entangled with one another to the point where a state change in one particle is taken on by the other, even if the two are separated by a great distance. By manipulating the quantum state of one of two entangled particles, scientists can send coded messages across space.

Imagine a light switch, magically linked with another light switch across the street. Turning off the light switch in one location turns the lights off in both locations.

Now instead of a light switches, imagine two quantum entangled photons of light. Changing the polarity of one causes a change in the polarity of the other.

It's this quantum entanglement theory that allows the Illusive Man in Mass Effect 2 to appear on board the new Normandy. His image is piped through one quantum entangled particle. Millions of light years away on the Normandy, the other quantum entangled particle reacts the same way as its pair.

Of course we're a long way from projecting images.

Right now it's strictly data, and up until recently the distance limit has been a few hundred yards before the particles detangle.

Chinese scientists used a blue laser, a semiconductor, and a beta-barium borate crystal to fire one quantum entangled photo 16km away without destabilising the entanglement. When the polarity of one photon changed, so did the other.

"This is the longest reported distance over which photonic teleportation has been achieved to date, more than 20 times longer than the previous implementation," said Cheng-Zhi Peng, one of the co-authors of the study and a scientist at University of Science and Technology of China and Tsinghua University in Beijing.

It's a huge leap forward in quantum technology, essentially transmitting data from one location to the other at speeds faster than light.

While the receiver of the data would require a key transmitted via normal means to decode the data, negating the speed benefit, the security of this photonic teleportation communication would be astounding. In effect, only someone in possession of the quantum entangled particle could even hope to decipher the data, and even then they'd need a key.

The Chinese scientists speculate they could have ground to satellite quantum communication working within the next few years.

The Illusive Man would be pleased.

Beam Me Up, Scotty! Scientists Teleport Info 10 Miles [Discovery News]


    I wonder if this tech has the infamous 'made in china' stamp on its bottom?

      Yeah, and how long until Foxconn start making it at a price I can afford?

    This makes me so happy - I don't think anyone could realise just how much ... So long as the results aren't fudged...

    Kinda like how I "teleport" my new copy of independance war from gog's servers to my hard drive or "teleport" endless updates from steam?

    If the quantum state on the sending end of the entangled pair doesn't actually move then its hardly teleportation, it's more like copying.

    I'll be very excited by this as soon as someone else can recreate the results. instant communication, not speed of light, but instant. Would make living on Mars or controlling robots there feasible. It does seem to break relativity theory, but quantum theory has always held this possibility. I just hope its reproducible.

    As someone who failed science in year twelve.

    How the hell is this possible?

    Two molecules that are 16kms apart and completely unconected moving in tandem..?

    How is this different to the quantum entanglement achieved in 2007 (over 144km)? Serious question, not being snide.


    Since when did data not include images? If you can flip the states of of the second particle between a '0' and '1' then you can transmit anything you want in a digital format. It is probably more accurate to say that the transmitter is unable to send the required amounts of data to make a live image. Given enough time you could still transmit an image but it would be like using 56k to download porn.

    If the reference is to projecting an image, it has nothing to do with this technology and is related to our ability to generate 3d holographic images.

    The article's wrong as far as how QE works.

    You can have two entangled particles, and no matter how far away they are, if you measure them simultaneously then you will get opposite results. Unfortunately manipulating one particle (i.e. reversing its spin) beyond just moving it breaks the entanglement. Which means that anything you could theoretically use to send information kills the entanglement.

    So I can theoretically send a robot to mars with an entangled particle, measure said particle and its twin simultaneously, and then compare results (and their quantum states will be opposite to one another). But I can't fiddle with my entangled particle to tell my martian robot what to do.

    Isn't this how the Ansible worked in the Ender novels?

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