Developing a space-based quantum communications network…
Will one day provide a faster than light (literally) communications system.
Is it really possibly for quantum communication signals to reach long distances without being lost or scattered in the vast emptiness of all of the space in between?
[via InsideScience.org]Scientists are pushing to create a space-based quantum communications network that could enable impossible-to-monitor transmissions.
In doing so, they might make it possible for someone named Scotty to really teleport some information into space.
It would be enough “to spook” Albert Einstein, said Thomas Jennewein of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, one of the top researchers in the field.
The encryption research could have immediate practical implications. The process would make use of entangled photons, what Einstein–who resisted the consequences of quantum theory until his death –called “spooky action at a distance.”
“If we can use correlations between entangled photons to establish a quantum key, it could be used for secure communications,” said Jennewein.
Einstein and two colleagues theorized in 1935 that if you had two quantum systems that interacted, such as two atoms in a molecule, and then separated them, they would remain entangled, meaning their properties would be inextricably linked. Measuring one atom would instantly produce a change in the other no matter how far apart they were.
Einstein believed that there was a universal speed limit: nothing could travel faster than light so he thought such communication—”spooky action”—would be impossible.
But in 1972, a group of U.S. scientists showed that is exactly what happens, at least over the short distances of their laboratory experiment.
Decades before, another physics giant, Werner Heisenberg, proposed in his famous uncertainty principle that merely observing a particle or otherwise disturbing it changes its properties, and–according to quantum theory–so instantly would that of its entangled twin.
Common encryption involves using keys, series of numbers, and letters that code and decode messages. The sender has one key that encrypts the message; the person receiving the message has another which decodes it.
Scientists can envision sending beams of quantum signals from one place to another to produce encryption keys, but there is a problem.
Quantum communications signals have not been able to travel very far on Earth. The current record is 89 miles set in the Canary Islands by Jennewein and a team, then of the University of Vienna. The problem is transmission loss or scattering in the atmosphere.
Even using fiber-optic cables is not the answer, according to Joshua Bienfang, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, another expert in the field. The chances of a single photon traveling safely more than around 250 miles in a fiber-optic cable is slim, he said.
That’s why Jennewein and other researchers are looking to space, where the beams would not scatter in the vacuum. His lab, among others, now has produced a design for such satellites that would test that out.
That question is, of course…
One based on the premise that there exists EMPTY space.
Because if you ask one physicist?
He’s gonna tell you how:
[via io9] There is no such thing as emptiness. There is only quantum foam. ~by Esther Inglis-Arkell
According to some scientists, there is no such thing as empty space. What we have instead is called “quantum foam.” We can’t see it, but we just might be able to sense it.
The guy who came up with the term “quantum foam” is John Wheeler. In the “shut up and calculate” era of post-World War II era, he pushed both students and the world at large to keep thinking about Einstein’s theory of relativity and its consequences – so you know he was cool. He also had the middle name of Archibald – so you know he knew a thing or two about cool names. And so it’s natural that he used term “quantum foam” to describe one of the more perplexing ideas of physics.
The idea comes from the attempts to merge relativistic gravity with quantum mechanics. Gravity, Einstein proved, was a bending of the fabric of spacetime. It also behaves like a field. Place a point far away from the Earth, and it still will be part of the Earth’s gravitational field, but it will be out where the tug of gravity is weak. Place it close to the Earth, and the tug is stronger, and it will fall. Other planets warp spacetime and create their own gravitational tugs. So space isn’t gravity-free, but a vast array of different gravitational tugs through which particles move. Pretty much everywhere that anything is placed, there is a gravitational field that it moves through.
Quantum mechanics doesn’t work quite the same way. It is looked at as more point particles and waves, without fields. Quantum field theory attempts to look at space as another field that point particles move through. This is significant because it allows space to also be a field that point particles spring from. Although the idea of particles suddenly appearing seems nonsensical, it is not an unheard-of idea. And it’s backed up by experimental evidence.
Scientists have observed quantum tunneling. This happens when a particle goes through a barrier that it should not have the energy to penetrate. It would be something like slowly rolling a soccer ball at a thick wall and watching it suddenly pop out the other side. Particles that do it must be getting a vast quantity of energy from nowhere. Physicists believe that, over short period of time, particles can suddenly “borrow” energy and tunnel out. The shorter the period of time, the more energy they can borrow. On a quantum scale, this isn’t so weird. Due to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, the closer an object’s position is fixed, the more its momentum can fluctuate into unknown territory. If the particle’s position is definitely close to the wall, it might have the energy to tunnel through. And if the particle is going with a certain momentum, and you’re certain of that, its position might not be what you think.
We know that particles do make use of quantum tunneling, which means, from a conventional point of view, that over short periods of time they must “borrow” energy from the universe. And Einstein proved that energy and mass are equivalent. If the universe can borrow energy, why not mass?
So what am I saying?
If the true issue of a quantum-based communications network, revolves solely around the problem of quantum communication signals fail to successfully expand across long, vast empty distances?
Then shouldn’t the fact that EMPTY distance, heck empty ANYTHING, does not exist, and “empty space” is in fact filled with a quantum foam, resolve that problem? And if it does, then the true problem emerges, revealing itself, that being at how physicists need to figure out how to use quantum foam to our advantage, when it comes to creating a quantum-based communications network.
A problem which? Obviously, I don’t have an answer to.
But hey, I already solved ONE problem (see above)…
What more do you want from me?