Newspaper article International New York Times

Scientists Cite Progress in Refuting Einstein ; Dutch Experiment Shows Consistent Success in Sending Quantum Data

Newspaper article International New York Times

Scientists Cite Progress in Refuting Einstein ; Dutch Experiment Shows Consistent Success in Sending Quantum Data

Article excerpt

Physicists say they can send quantum information from one electron to another 10 feet away with perfect accuracy.

Scientists in the Netherlands have moved a step closer to overriding one of Albert Einstein's most famous objections to the implications of quantum mechanics, which he described as "spooky action at a distance."

In a paper published Thursday in the journal Science, physicists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Delft University of Technology reported that they were able to reliably teleport information between two quantum bits separated by three meters, or about 10 feet.

Quantum teleportation is not the "Star Trek"-style movement of people or things; rather, it involves transferring so-called quantum information -- in this case what is known as the spin state of an electron -- from one place to another without moving the physical matter to which the information is attached.

Classical bits, the basic units of information in computing, can have only one of two values -- either 0 or 1. But quantum bits, or qubits, can simultaneously describe many values. They hold out both the possibility of a new generation of faster computing systems and the ability to create completely secure communication networks.

Moreover, the scientists are now closer to definitively proving Einstein wrong in his early disbelief in the notion of entanglement, in which particles separated by light-years can still appear to remain connected, with the state of one particle instantaneously affecting the state of another.

They report that they have achieved perfectly accurate teleportation of quantum information over short distances. They are now seeking to repeat their experiment over a distance of more than a kilometer. If they are able to show repeatedly that entanglement works at this distance, it will be a definitive demonstration of the entanglement phenomenon and quantum mechanical theory.

Succeeding at greater distances will offer an affirmative solution to a thought experiment known as Bell's theorem, proposed in 1964 by the Irish physicist John Stewart Bell as a method for determining whether particles connected via quantum entanglement communicate information faster than the speed of light. …

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