Slide: 1 / of 1. Caption: Getty Images
At the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, the basement of the physics building is connected to the economics building by nearly half a miles worth of optical fiber. It takes a photon three millionths of a secondand a physicist, about five minutesto travel from one building to the other. Starting in November 2015, researchers beamed individual photons between the buildings, over and over again for seven months, for a physics experiment that could one day help secure your data.
Their immediate goal was to settle a decades-old debate in quantum mechanics: whether the phenomenon known as entanglement actually exists. Entanglement, a cornerstone of quantum theory, describes a bizarre scenario in which the fate of two quantum particlessuch as a pair of atoms, or photons, or ionsare intertwined. You could separate these two entangled particles to opposite sides of the galaxy, but when you mess with one, you instantaneously change the other. Einstein famously doubted that entanglement was actually a thing and dismissed it as spooky action at a distance.
Over the years, researchers have run all sorts of complicated experiments to poke at the theory. Entangled particles exist in nature, but theyre extremely delicate and hard to manipulate. So researchers make them, often using lasers and special crystals, in precisely controlled settings to test that the particles behave the way prescribed by theory.
In Munich, researchers set about their test in two laboratories, one in the physics building, the other in economics. In each lab, they used lasers to coax a single photon out of a rubidium atom; according to quantum mechanics theory, colliding those two photons would entangle the rubidium atoms. That meant they had to get the atoms in both departments to emit a photon pretty much simultaneouslyaccomplished by firing a tripwire electric signal from one lab to the other. Theyre synchronized to less than a nanosecond, says physicist Harald Weinfurter of the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich.
The researchers collided the two photons by sending one of them over the optical fiber. Then they did it again. And again, tens of thousands of times, followed up by statistical analysis. Even though the atoms were separated by a quarter of a milealong with all the impinging buildings, roads, and treesthe researchers found the two particles properties were correlated. Entanglement exists.
So, quantum mechanics isnt broken which is exactly what the researchers expected. In fact, this experiment basically shows the same results as a series of similar tests that physicists started to run in 2015. Theyre known as Bell tests, named for John Stewart Bell, the northern Irish physicist whose theoretical work inspired them. Few physicists still doubt that entanglement exists. I dont think theres any serious or large-scale concern that quantum mechanics is going to be proven wrong tomorrow, says physicist David Kaiser of MIT, who wasnt involved in the research. Quantum theory has never, ever, ever let us down.
But despite their predictable results, researchers find Bell tests interesting for a totally different reason: They could be essential to the operation of future quantum technologies. In the course of testing this strange, deep feature of nature, people realized these Bell tests could be put to work, says Kaiser.
For example, Googles baby quantum computer, which it plans to test later this year, uses entangled particles to perform computing tasks. Quantum computers could execute certain algorithms much faster because entangled particles can hold and manipulate exponentially more information than regular computer bits. But because entangled particles are so difficult to control, engineers can use Bell tests to verify their particles are actually entangled. Its an elementary test that can show that your quantum logic gate works, Weinfurter says.
Bell tests could also be useful in securing data, says University of Toronto physicist Aephraim Steinberg, who was not involved in the research. Currently, researchers are developing cryptographic protocols based on entangled particles. To send a secure message to somebody, youd encrypt your message using a cryptographic key encoded in entangled quantum particles. Then you send your intended recipient the key. Every now and then, you stop and do a Bell test, says Steinberg. If a hacker tries to intercept the key, or if the key was defective in the first place, you will be able to see it in the Bell tests statistics, and you would know that your encrypted message is no longer secure.
In the near future, Weinfurters group wants to use their experiment to develop a setup that could send entangled particles over long distances for cryptographic purposes. But at the same time, theyll keep performing Bell tests to provebeyond any inkling of a doubtthat entanglement really exists. Because whats the point of developing applications on top of an illusion?
Read this article:
The Bizarre Quantum Test That Could Keep Your Data Secure – WIRED
- What is quantum computing? - Definition from WhatIs.com - February 5th, 2018
- The Era of Quantum Computing Is Here. Outlook: Cloudy ... - January 26th, 2018
- IBM puts its quantum computer to work in relaxing, nerdy ASMR ... - January 8th, 2018
- Quantum computing is going to change the world. Here's what ... - January 8th, 2018
- Is Quantum Computing an Existential Threat to Blockchain ... - December 25th, 2017
- What is Quantum Computing? | SAP News Center - December 23rd, 2017
- Quantum Computing Explained | What is Quantum Computing? - December 21st, 2017
- New silicon structure opens the gate to quantum computers - December 14th, 2017
- Microsoft offers developers a preview of its quantum ... - December 12th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Is the Next Big Security Risk | WIRED - December 8th, 2017
- Yale Professors Race Google and IBM to the First Quantum ... - November 16th, 2017
- IBM's processor pushes quantum computing ... - engadget.com - November 16th, 2017
- Quantum computing - news.microsoft.com - November 1st, 2017
- Intel Takes First Steps To Universal Quantum Computing - October 13th, 2017
- Qudits: The Real Future of Quantum Computing? - IEEE Spectrum - October 13th, 2017
- quantum computing - engadget.com - October 13th, 2017
- Quantum Computing | Intel Newsroom - October 13th, 2017
- What will you actually use quantum computing for? | ZDNet - October 11th, 2017
- Here's what quantum computing is and why it matters - October 6th, 2017
- Microsoft just upped its multi-million bet on quantum computing - ZDNet - September 7th, 2017
- Microsoft's Aussie quantum computing lab set to scale up next-gen ... - ARNnet - September 7th, 2017
- An Entirely New Type of Quantum Computing Has Just Been Invented - Futurism - September 7th, 2017
- Quantum computing event explores the implications for business - Cambridge Network - August 30th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Is Coming at Us Fast, So Here's Everything You Need to Know - ScienceAlert - August 27th, 2017
- How quantum mechanics can change computing - San Francisco ... - San Francisco Chronicle - August 25th, 2017
- Commonwealth Bank investing in Australia's first quantum computer company - Which-50 (blog) - August 25th, 2017
- How quantum mechanics can change computing - The Conversation US - August 23rd, 2017
- Introducing Australia's first quantum computing hardware company - Computerworld Australia - August 23rd, 2017
- IEEE Approves Standards Project for Quantum Computing ... - insideHPC - August 23rd, 2017
- $495.3 Million Quantum Computing Market 2017 by Revenue Source, Application, Industry, and Geography - Global ... - PR Newswire (press release) - August 18th, 2017
- Physicists Have Made Exotic Quantum States From Light - Futurism - August 16th, 2017
- Machine learning tackles quantum error correction - Phys.Org - August 15th, 2017
- Quantum Internet Is 13 Years Away. Wait, What's Quantum Internet? - WIRED - August 15th, 2017
- Blind quantum computing for everyone - Phys.org - Phys.Org - August 12th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Is Real, and D-Wave Just Open ... - WIRED - August 12th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Market Worth 495.3 Million USD by 2023 | 08 ... - Markets Insider - August 10th, 2017
- China uses a quantum satellite to transmit potentially unhackable data - CNBC - August 10th, 2017
- Physicists Take Big Step Towards Quantum Computing and ... - Universe Today - August 1st, 2017
- Why you might trust a quantum computer with secretseven over ... - Phys.Org - July 12th, 2017
- Quantum-computer node uses two different ion species - physicsworld.com - July 10th, 2017
- Quantum Computers vs Bitcoin How Worried Should We Be? - The Merkle - July 10th, 2017
- Quantum cheques could be a forgery-free way to move money - New Scientist - July 10th, 2017
- Technique for measuring and controlling electron state is a ... - UCLA Newsroom - July 9th, 2017
- Quantum Computers Made Even More Powerful with New microchip generating 'Qudits' - TrendinTech - July 8th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Record Broken - Wall Street Pit - July 8th, 2017
- Alkermes and IBM's quantum computing. Who'll be the big winner? Malcolm Berko - Durham Herald Sun - July 6th, 2017
- Qudits: The Real Future of Quantum Computing? - IEEE Spectrum - IEEE Spectrum - July 1st, 2017
- Google to Achieve "Supremacy" in Quantum Computing by the End of 2017 - Big Think - July 1st, 2017
- Quantum Computing Becomes More Accessible - Scientific American - July 1st, 2017
- Tektronix AWG Pulls Test into Era of Quantum Computing - Electronic Design - June 2nd, 2017
- Toward mass-producible quantum computers | MIT News - MIT News - June 2nd, 2017
- Purdue, Microsoft Partner On Quantum Computing Research | WBAA - WBAA - June 2nd, 2017
- IBM boosts power of quantum computing processors as it lays ... - www.computing.co.uk - May 22nd, 2017
- IBM makes leap in quantum computing power - ITworld - May 22nd, 2017
- Molecular magnets closer to application in quantum computing - Next Big Future - May 15th, 2017
- Inside Microsoft's 'soup to nuts' quantum computing ramp-up - Computerworld Australia - April 29th, 2017
- Quantum computing is about to disrupt the government contracts market - Bloomberg Government (blog) - April 22nd, 2017
- Scientists: We Have Detected the Existence of a Fundamentally New State of Matter - Futurism - April 22nd, 2017
- What Sorts Of Problems Are Quantum Computers Good For? - Forbes - April 22nd, 2017
- quantum computing - WIRED UK - April 22nd, 2017
- What is Quantum Computing? Webopedia Definition - March 18th, 2017
- Here Is Everything You Need to Know About Quantum Computers - Interesting Engineering - March 18th, 2017
- Quantum Computing Market Forecast 2017-2022 | Market ... - March 18th, 2017
- Mathematician breaks down how to defend against quantum ... - Phys.Org - February 28th, 2017