Beam Me Up

I’d always struggled at physics in school, but not quantum mechanics.  I struggled  to  determine answers through Newtonian dynamics and electromagnetism, but I aced quantum mechanics.  Why?  Maybe because like in science fiction you have to suspend some disbelief.
Light is both a wave and particle.  Fine.
You can know either the position or trajectory of a particle, but not both.  Ok.
If two particles become entangled, they can affect one another regardless of the distance between them.  Sure.
Well, it turns out that last one can be demonstrated.  In last week’s issue of Science, a team from the Universities of Maryland and Michigan have determined that they can detect the teleportation of information across about three feet in the lab between two atoms.  Not transmitted.  Teleported.  Wild.
I can’t begin to explain the physics, but I can explain the effect.  Suppose (Fish) and I are entangled particles.  I’m in San Diego, he’s in SLO-town.  I am caused to itch.  I scratch.  Scratching immediately causes (Fish) to itch.  The information is teleported.  The authors claim that advances like this could lead to the development of quantum computers that out-process anything we have right now, but we all know that they should be aiming higher.

Transporters.  I know, I know, the instantaneous transmission of information across space is not the same as the instantaneous transmission of atoms across space, but let a guy dream for a bit.  At the beginning of the year, Ross had a post about all the things science-fiction has promised society that have yet to arrive and teleportation was one of them.  Maybe now we’re just a little closer to that.
There was one little thing that bothered me in the article.  The team said that they have been able to recover the teleported information with perfect accuracy about 90% of the time.

Hrmmm.  I wonder what happened to the data in that other 10%?

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34 thoughts on “Beam Me Up

  1. Lately I've been getting interested in this stuff myself. I watched a presentation by Michio Kaku and was hooked. My next book to read is his "Parallel Universes".

  2. Ah, yes – Bell's Interconnectedness Theorem! The most hated (and therefore most tested) theorem in modern physics. Starting with Einstein's axioms, Bell demonstrated that reality is non-local and that information could move faster than the speed of light. Though physicists hate it, it has yet to be shown false.One of my favorite toys to play with. One of these days, I've got to finish working on that ansible…John

  3. I don't know what you're worried about bzzz bzzz Steve, I use the teleporter without any ill bzzz effects.
    I remember reading a book deconstructing the science of Star Trek a while back and it posited that the information contained in just one cell beggars the imagination, not to mention the computing capacity of even the most advanced super-computer. More interesting is the question of whether "we" are just the information/data of our aggregated cells, and so could in fact be teleported (or copied, for that matter) without the loss of something unique to our individuality. This in turn raises the question of metaphysical issues such as the existence of the "mind" or the "soul" as something integral yet separate to our selves. This in turn raises the issue of lunch.

  4. Does a fellow geek get an "A" for immediately recognizing that you were referring to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? :-) I'm jealous that you had to take those classes in school….I was busy memorizing all the ranges of the instruments in various types of ensembles and orchestras…and hand-writing all the orchestral and big band arrangements (sheesh! Haven't they heard of Finale?!).

  5. I have no idea what the hell you are talking about but it sounds cool. As I was reading this aloud to J and Thing 2, J interrupted me to ask if you are married. I answered, yes to a very lovely woman. She said that was her next question. On another note: J wants to know if you would be willing to talk to her friend who is looking in some type of pharmaceutical related science. She teases you but she likes the stories I tell her about you.

  6. Were you scratching? I was itching…but then again I have a medical condition that causes me to itch frequently.This is awesome news! I love hearing/reading about these sorts of things. Certainly there is a difference between transmitting information and atoms but how long is it before we decode the information that makes up atoms, molecules, etc.?

  7. janie — i was thinking after posting this about what if you didn't have to live near the same place you worked? That you could work anywhere in the world and come home to the Dorf. Or vice versa. How bizarre would that be?

  8. John — like so much of quantum theory, it's just so darn counter-intuitive. But that doesn't make it real. I'd never heard of the ansible concept until I started reading OS Card a couple of years ago.

  9. I'm not so sure Jim — these days I'm a LOT more interested in music theory than quantum theory. And my memories of quantum are way too many hours doing (or trying to do at least) differential equations.

  10. I don't know. Last I heard from her she hadn't made the Olympic archery team. Maybe she was too embarrassed to ever make a movie again. In my mind she's forever the dead wife in Beetlejuice.

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