Human Achievement of the Day: Beam me up, Scotty?

Today’s achievement doesn’t quite put us on the final frontier, but the successful transmission of atoms via teleportation by scientists at the University of Maryland is a quantum leap toward significant advancements in technology…maybe even human teleportation someday.

Brace yourselves; this post gets a little esoteric.

“For the first time, scientists have successfully teleported information between two separate atoms in unconnected enclosures a meter apart – a significant milestone in the global quest for practical quantum information processing.”

From what I’ve tried to learn, and I’m not pretending to understand all this, quantum physics theorizes that reality acts differently upon particles based on their size and that at the atomic and sub-atomic levels particles, such as photons, can simultaneously have properties of both energy and matter (armchair physicists: feel free to use the comment section to correct me).

Quantum information, such as the spin of a particle or the polarization of a photon, is transferred from one place to another, without traveling through any physical medium.

With the convergence of the principles of matter and energy, it makes sense that teleportation would be based on quantum mechanics…I think.

A team from the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) at the University of Maryland and the University of Michigan has succeeded in teleporting a quantum state directly from one atom to another over a substantial distance…

Our system has the potential to form the basis for a large-scale ‘quantum repeater’ that can network quantum memories over vast distances, says group leader Christopher Monroe of the Joint Quantum Institute and the University of Maryland department of physics. Moreover, our methods can be used in conjunction with quantum bit operations to create a key component needed for quantum computation. A quantum computer could perform certain tasks, such as encryption-related calculations and searches of giant databases, considerably faster than conventional machines. The effort to devise a working model is a matter of intense interest worldwide.

I think the scientists here are being a little modest. More than just a “considerably faster” computer:

Development of a quantum computer , if practical, would mark a leap forward in computing capability far greater than that from the abacus to a modern day supercomputer , with performance gains in the billion-fold realm and beyond. The quantum computer, following the laws of quantum physics, would gain enormous processing power through the ability to be in multiple states, and to perform tasks using all possible permutations simultaneously.


My brain hurts now. Somebody Wonka me a bottle of pain killers. Is it too late to change today’s Human Achievement of the Day to Aspirin?