Monday, January 18, 2010

Teleportation is here...or there

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One of the coolest concepts ever in Star Trek was the idea of teleportation. And, as with most things Star Trek does - it is slowly coming true.

For the first time, scientists have teleported material across space...okay, only about a meter...but still!

Teleportation means the transportation of matter through space in a non-matter state. In other words, transmission of information only... also know as - really effing cool. From a physics perspective, its complicated, REALLY complicated - this transmitted information has to be first read and understood, transmitted and then recreated at the destination. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that we can never accurately measure the state of an atom or the precise location of any of its subatomic particles like electrons. So, if we can't figure out where particles are in space, how can we recreate their locations?

It comes down to a principle called entanglement, essentially we can't know the state of one atom and its particles but we can predict the state of two particles so long as they interact. Then, with ridiculously complicated mathematical formulae like the one shown here, physicists are able to predict the position of atoms and particles in space.

|\Phi^+\rangle = \frac{1}{\sqrt{2}} (|0\rangle_A \otimes |0\rangle_{B} + |1\rangle_A \otimes |1\rangle_{B}),
If we can know the physical properties of atoms in space, then we can transmit that information using quantum mechanics where information is transmitted as qubits.

Confused? You aren't the only one. One of the leading theoretical physicists Richard Feynman says "I think it is safe to say, no one understands quantum mechanics". So don't feel bad, you are not alone.

--Torah Kachur

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