Object sent to space using quantum teleportation in phenomenal breakthrough

Object sent to space using quantum teleportation in phenomenal breakthrough

Quantum teleportation has always been out of humankind's reach, but nonetheless, there is probably not a kid - or adult - on planet Earth who has watched a character teleport on a TV show or in a movie and not wished they could do the same.

Seriously, just try and wrap your head around the benefits; low commute times, zero dealings with second-rate drivers who should have never passed their test in the first place, a trip to the vacation spot of your choice at any given time of the day. Truly marvellous stuff.

Astronaut in space Credit: StockSnap

Here in 2017, we're a far from pulling a Doc Brown and teleporting through time by accelerating a DeLorean DMC-12 up to 88mph to activate the flux capacitor. But, in a magnificent breakthrough for science, a team of Chinese researchers have given us a phenomenal push in the right direction by teleporting a particle from the Gobi Desert in northern China to a satellite in space.

The group achieved the remarkable process through "quantum entanglement". Simply explained, each photon - a particle which allows light to be carried over space - has its own quantum state, but sometimes two particles can act on one another and become an entangled system, having the same wave function. The second photon is a mirror image of the first and will imitate its identity, sharing the same qualities.

Using the Micius satellite, launched in August 2016 specifically to perform cutting-edge quantum experiments like this, the scientists used pairs of entangled particles to recreate exactly the properties of a photon on Earth in a photon in orbit.

For those who want to grasp a better understanding of quantum entanglement, this video will tell you everything you need to know:

It is a major breakthrough for those in the science industry; scientists have experimented previously with quantum entanglement but found it impossible to teleport a photon more than 100 kilometres due to atmospheric interference. Amazingly, the Chinese team have reportedly teleported the photon over five times that distance, achieving this by building a ground station at an altitude of four thousands metres.

In a statement, the team spoke of their incredible achievement which they describe as "an essential step toward global-scale quantum internet". Ji-Gang Ren, of the University of Science and Technology of China, and colleagues stated: "We report the first quantum teleportation of independent single-photon qubits from a ground observatory to a low Earth orbit satellite - through an up-link channel - with a distance up to 1400 km. This work establishes the first ground-to-satellite up-link for faithful and ultra-long-distance quantum teleportation, an essential step toward global-scale quantum internet."

So, what does teleporting a photon to space mean for the rest of us? Unfortunately, not much at the current time. It's going to be a long time before you Trekkies can live out your science-fiction dreams and yell "beam me up, Scotty" to your chief engineer.

The entanglement and eventual teleportation process is so fragile, if scientists sent a human being, their particles are likely to break up during the transfer, meaning that they would cease to exist. Oh well, I guess we'll just have to keep on dreaming of that relaxing morning commute.