Quantum Teleportation: The Possibilities

Posted: June 9, 2014 in The Cyberpunk Chronicles

“Now that I told ya a little bit about myself, let me tell you a little bit about this dance.”

— Digital Underground, “The Humpty Dance”

Previously, I talked at length about the bare minimum of quantum mechanics  you needed to know in order to understand the concept of quantum teleportation (minus Harmonic Oscillators and Live/Dead Schrodinger Cats). This was on the heels of last week’s groundbreaking announcement by scientists at Delft University, on a much-improved method of teleporting information via two electrons confined in diamonds. Mention the word “teleportation,” and we imagine people vanishing into thin air, then re-manifesting out of nowhere in an entirely different place. Sadly, that may not happen anytime soon in this century or the next. However, there are still a lot of applications that we may yet see in our lifetime:

  • Quantum Cryptography. The most immediate applications. Information that used to be camouflaged by binary code and rendered deconstructible by hackers, could now be almost absolutely secure. That’s a bold statement, of course, but here’s why it’s such a big deal: Both the sending and receiving party would be the only ones with the encryption key, which in quantum entanglement means the measuring apparatus, calibrated a certain way. Any attempt to measure it otherwise, brute-force, would instantaneously destroy the information sent. If scientists create a randomizer so that no two pairs of qubits will have the same general state, it would mimic the sort of frequency-hopping technology (invented by actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Anthiel) commonly used in wireless communication. Which would drive the NSA crazy, since they can’t just tap into a qubit network to listen in, the way they used to tap phone lines. [They’d have to go through the courts and the carriers, as they do right now to be able to monitor mobile phone calls. Oh, the good ol’ days…]
  • Quantum Computing. Instead of being funneled through long links of data streams before reaching their end users, specific data (or data groups) could be conjured almost instantaneously, increasing a computer’s efficiency, at up to half the power, if not more. As a result, designs based on principles of quantum teleportation would be drastically streamlined, as they would be based on discrete, isolated transfer points instead of circuits. And this is hardly trivial. By itself, the concept of QT-based chips would spawn an entire new industry by itself. Ultra-crazy transistors, power switches, memory devices, and most computer-based electronics (from desktops to mobile devices) would proliferate, ushering in a new Golden Age of Technology. And that’s not factoring the language programs and other software applications, which are industries by themselves.
  • Telecommunications. The breakthrough by the scientists at Delft made me think of the current fiber optic grid. Even though it is a vast improvement over the radio/TV analog signal technology that it supplanted, broadband-based technology is a cumbersome beast that is relatively expensive to install. There are still many cities in the U.S. that do not have fiber optic lines, and therefore, have no access to high-speed cable and internet. If engineers developed a sort of QT/fiber optic hybrid grid, which took all of the signal strength of the old broadband-based technology, but at a fraction of the cost (especially if it means much less digging), then fiber optic would be rendered obsolete, the same way analog had been just a few years ago. More bandwidth would be freed up; or at the very least, more telecommunication channels would be made available for use. If maintenance costs for the QT/fiber optic grid are minimal as compared to fiber optic cable, that the latter being eventually phased out. A QT/fiber optic hybrid technology could entail “relay points” between disconnected joints of cable; the teleportation part would occur at the ends of the cables. The rest of way, the signal would then be “classically” transported (via the fiber optic track) to cable and internet users. Depending on power considerations, a hybrid might also be an improvement, even more so than its fiber optic brethren.
  • The Power Grid. What’s good for the goose may also be good for the gander. What if QT principles were incorporated into a full-blown power grid for a major metropolis? This might be a stretch, but I’m sure a Nikola Tesla-type genius is already furiously thinking up ways to tweak the QT concept, so that units of energy instead of information could be teleported. In 2010, physicists in Japan were able to induce a photon to do “work,” simply by feeding it information. In the same way energy was found to be convertible to matter, the link between energy and information could be the beginning of a new paradigm shift that could radically alter the way we see the flow of power. A QT-based grid that fine-tunes energy demands could be the godsend to an infrastructure’s electrical load concern. Tesla’s Polyphase AC Motor drastically improved the foundation laid by Thomas Edison. Although the concept may still be decades (even centuries) away, a QT-based power grid would decrease our energy requirements — and reduce the rate of our carbon footprinting.
  • Biotechnology & Other Applications. Conceived by Manhattan Project alumni John von Neumann and Stanislaw Ulam, the study of Cellular Automata is still in its proverbial adolescent years. However, it has led to some modest gains in AIDS and cancer research. A combination of QT knowledge and genetic engineering could yield breakthroughs in developing vaccines that cause diseased cells to safely “self-destruct,” leading to safer ways of treating cancer patients with a higher rate of survivability. Complexities of random automata aside, encoded cells could also use a sort of inception principle in modifying individual genes. These would be invaluable for everything from stem-cell development to food technology. Electrical and electronic devices, transportation, and other machines could also indirectly benefit, as a result.

Quantum teleportation may hold the key for a lot of technologies and new sciences that we have not even begun to imagine. Needless to say, the way we live, move, and view culture, would all fundamentally change. Other subtle changes may also occur, in the way we interact with each other or strive for lofty goals. Nuclear fusion, interstellar travel and — gasp! — even human teleportation could become tangible, commonplace realities. We may not see these wonders happen in this lifetime (or the next)… but it sure is fun to speculate on what you can do with it all.

Copyright © 2014 The Anabases


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