“Beem me up, Scotty!” Chinese scientists have managed to teleport an object into Earth’s orbit for the first time ever. If you ask me, that’s a pretty big deal.
The idea of teleportation has long been considered only possible in science fiction movies. In fact, in the early 1990’s scientists speculated that teleportation could be possible with the aid of quantum physics.
Since the idea was proposed, experts made great progress and in 2016 managed to successfully conduct the world’s first quantum teleportation outside of a laboratory.
But experts didn’t want to stop there so they stepped up a notch. Now, experts in China managed to achieve the “unachievable” after they successfully teleported a photon from our planet to a satellite orbiting Earth more than 500 kilometers away. Pretty awesome right?
This revolutionary experiment was conducted between the Micius—a Chinese quantum satellite named after Chinese philosopher from the 5th century BC—and a ground station in Asia where scientists managed to transfer the photon from Earth to space.
The Chinese satellite was launched into orbit in 2016. Micius is equipped with state-of-the-art technology featuring a super sensitive photon receiver which enables the satellite to detect the quantum state of a single photon which is fired at it from the Earth.
But not only did Chinese scientists teleport the FRIST object ever from our planet into space, they basically created a revolutionary satellite-to-ground quantum network, which eventually allowed them to beat the record for the longest distance for which entanglement has been measured. And why is entanglement so important here?
Because “Quantum teleportation” relies on “quantum entanglement,” a phenomenon where one set of objects—like the photon—appears at the same instant and point in space—sharing the ‘same existence’.
Furthermore, as noted by Futurism, “this shared existence continues even when the photons are separated – meaning a measurement on one immediately influences the state of the other, regardless of the distance between them.”
Scientists explain that this extraordinary link is what allows us to transmit quantum information essentially by uploading and downloading the information assigned to one ‘object’ or photon in this case, over an ‘entangled link’ to another photon/object. The second photon/object takes on the identity of the first, in other words, TELEPORTATION.
“Long-distance teleportation has been recognized as a fundamental element in protocols such as large-scale quantum networks and distributed quantum computation,” report Chinese scientists to MIT Technology Review.
“Previous teleportation experiments between distant locations were limited to a distance on the order of 100 kilometers, due to photon loss in optical fibers or terrestrial free-space channels,” they added.
But… how did Chinese experts know they’ve actually achieved teleportation? Scientists created entailed pairs of photons on the ground facility at a rate of around 4,000 per second and beamed ONE of the photons to their satellite—orbiting Earth 500 km above—and kept the other one the ground. Eventually, they measured the photons on the ground and in orbit in order to confirm the entanglement was taking place.
And while all of this may sound like Star Trek technology to many of us, the truth is that it’s not quite as that. At least not yet. Why? Because we still can’t transport anything large.
Also, while there is also no “maximum teleportation distance” entanglement is extremely fragile and the links are unstable, meaning they can easily be broken.
However, this new study paves the way for revolutionary technology that could maybe one day, help us make reality what we’ve only seen in science fiction movies.