In my daily surfing of Science Daily, one of my regular haunts on the intertubes, I came across an article titled, “Mathematical Breakthrough Sets out Rules for More Effective Teleportation.” At first, you might think, “yeah… right,” with a great dose of sarcasm and a hearty helping of skepticism. But I knew what to expect from this site. They don’t post bizarre wide-angle concepts from the minds of laymen and wandering spiritualists. This is a science site, and unless the source comes from people with actual doctorates or references from reliable sources, it doesn’t go up. Plus, knowing this was likely about quantum entanglement, I expected it to be theoretical. I was not incorrect.
Now, if you’re not into science fiction, and don’t care much for science in general (other than using the wonderful things that science gives us) then you might not know about quantum entanglement, so let me explain it in dood language. Our universe isn’t really composed of matter and vacuum as we think of it. It’s really composed of dimensional knots, and when you get down far enough in matter, that’s what’s left, dimensional knots. Lord Kelvin proposed something similar to this back in the 1800s. His theories were more along the lines that matter, at its lowest form, was really a swirling of space-time – energy. He wasn’t actually that far off. (The dude was obviously a genius). Quantum physics is the science of these dimensional knots – a definition of the mathematical rules by which they play. And it’s complicated. Too complicated for me to understand with my limited US mathematical education. So let’s skip the math and get down to this business of teleportation.
Einstein famously loathed the theory of quantum entanglement, dismissing it as “spooky action at a distance.” But entanglement has since been proven to be a very real feature of our universe, and one that has extraordinary potential to advance all manner of scientific endeavor.
Quantum teleportation isn’t the teleportation of matter, it’s the teleportation of information. You might say, so what? How is teleportation of information of any use? Well, it’s like this. If you “teleport” information, it means you don’t have to worry about light speed. The information transfer is instantaneous, meaning that if you send a robot probe to another planet, and it takes 400 years to get there, your descendants won’t need to wait fifty years for the robot to send back its information. Instead, they get it right away. This works in-system too (as in within our own solar system). Probes sent to Mars, for example, have a 28 minute round trip latency. That means it takes about fourteen minutes for instructions to reach a probe, and about fourteen minutes for us to receive confirmation that the orders were received. Try operating a remote controlled vehicle like that. It’s why the probe’s computers have to be programmed to operate autonomously. Now, imagine you could send information instantly. With that capability, you could design virtual probes that you could operate from any distance with no latency, and people could explore the universe from Earth.
It’s a BIG deal.
The article I referenced talks about a way to do this. Physicists from Cambridge, University College London, and the University of Gdansk have worked out a theoretical protocol that would “recycle” quantum entanglement. Previous ideas about teleporting information required that the particle states would be destroyed once a “qubit” of information was transferred. Using that concept, we’d have to ship out our probes with a large amount of entangled particles on one end and an equally large number on our end. As we transferred information, we’d use them up. Eventually they’d be gone, and our probe would be operating on its own again. But, if we could recycle the quantum entanglement states, we’d need fewer particles, and they’d never stop working for us. Our probe would have a much higher bandwidth of transfer, and it would never stop being able to transmit and receive.
Previous teleportation protocols, have fallen into one of two camps, those that could only send scrambled information requiring correction by the receiver, or more recently, “port-based” teleportation that doesn’t require a correction, but needed an impractical amount of entanglement — each object sent would destroy the entangled state.
So, in conclusion, none of this really matters right now. It’s all theory and speculation. You can go back to your salad. But, for science fiction, it’s another great leap. Have you been developing a fantasy-based FTL communication method for your SF novel? Now you’ve got continuous quantum entanglement in your arsenal. And, if you throw in matter transmutation, technically you’ve got matter teleportation too. You just scan the exact molecular state of a person into the transmuter, send it over your quantum communication system to another transmuter, and make an exact duplicate of the subject on the other end – across the galaxy or across the universe! Of course, you’ll still have to deal with the fact that there are two of the subject now, but that’s already been done in a variety of SF novels, so I recommend blowing it off. I mean, so what if there’s a copy of you on the other side of the universe?
Oh, BTW, there’s another interesting one you might want to read. Major Step Toward an Alzheimer’s Vaccine. I like to follow this, seeing as I’m diabetic and my odds of getting Alzheimer’s are, well… higher than normal, I suspect, due to my body’s issues with processing carbs correctly. Also, I have relatives with this disease, and I’d REALLY like to see a cure.