Everyday, scientists are announcing this new discovery or that new invention, saying how it’s going to change the world and so on. Sometimes these announcements are genuinely surprising and sometimes they just go right over the heads of us non-scientists. But today, some scientists in China are making an announcement, and it’s a doozy: Chinese researchers have successfully teleported a particle into outer space.
Now if you hear “teleport” and think Star Trek, you might have to temper your expectations a little.
This is a process called “quantum entanglement” that doesn’t involve transporting a physical object so much as information. In the simplest terms possible, information contained inside one particle is teleported to another particle. So, in this case, researchers were able to take information inside a photon in the Gobi Desert and instantaneously teleport it into a photon on the Micius Satellite.
So what does that mean? Plenty. If this technology is developed, it could be a game changer for digital communication. Right now, the emails, texts and messages you send online travel through a cloud or a cable, where it’s at risk of being hacked. But if you can instantaneously teleport your information from one computer to another, it spends no time outside of a secure location. Researchers dreamily refer to something like this as an “unhackable quantum internet,” and it would be “a new form of communication network, in which information would be encoded by the quantum states of entangled photons, rather than strings of 0s and 1s.”
Today’s announcement is a big, big step towards making it a reality.