This story teases us with human teleportation, but it gets serious with quantum teleportation.
Quantum teleportation is the transferring of tiny units of computer information, called quantum bits or qubits, from one location to another. The technology is referred to as a type of teleportation because the information teleported behaves more like an object than normal information.
Scientists treat quantum information as if it were an object. The fact that the information cannot be conveyed without first being destroyed also differentiates quantum teleportation from faxing a document, which makes an imprecise replica of the original at another location and leaves the original intact.
Now a team of scientists from the University of Geneva in Switzerland reports a great achievement.
The team teleported qubits carried by photons -- particles of light -- of 0.05 inch (1.3mm) wavelength in one laboratory onto photons of 0.06 inch (1.55mm) wavelength in another laboratory 180 feet (55 meters) away along 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) of fiber optic wire.
So it's possible to do it. But what can we do with this?
Scientists believe that this technology has practical applications in the field of quantum computing and quantum cryptology, technologies that hold promises for making computing both much faster and secure.
William Wootters is a physicist at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts and co-authored a 1993 paper that outlined the theory of quantum teleportation.
He explained that the technology could allow computers to send the code to unlock secret messages between each without the fear of another computer intercepting the code or the code deteriorating as it traveled over conventional communications mediums such as a fiber optic wire.
But Star Trek fans will still have to wait for a while before human teleportation becomes possible. These scientists "say there is simply too much information in a human that needs to be teleported to make this technology applicable."
Source: John Roach, for National Geographic News, January 29, 2003
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