Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Dream to Beam

I can thank my mother for my love of Star Trek. Since I was very young, I can remember watching the adventures of Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. Then later in my childhood, I was introduced to characters like Picard and Data. My love for the show and its view of the future has not changed. It really is set in an idealistic world. One can only hope that humanity achieves half of the things that appear in the storylines of the show.
One thing about the show that I love, especially on The Next Generation, was the amazing technology of this future world. The one everybody can think up almost immediately is "beaming" or teleportation. In the show, almost anything can be teleported (or beamed) to any location within a range. And for the longest time, scientists have said it is impossible. But not anymore.
Before anyone's hopes are raised too high, the recent achievements of Professor Eugene Polzik and Ignacio Cirac are a far cry from anything witnessed in Star Trek. But these two scientists have achieved something that was once thought impossible. This week, Polzik and Cirac have "teleported information from light to matter bringing quantum communication and computing closer to reality."
Of course to some, this may seem like a bunch of science jargon, but this is a real achievement. Until now, scientists had only been able to teleport "two single atoms...a distance of a fraction of a millimeter." In Polzik and Cirac's experiment, they were able to teleport "information a distance of half a meter but believes it can be extended further."
The real life application of this technology has nothing to do with teleporting people to spaceships or supplies to a colony. This type of teleportation is about the movement of information. According to Polzik, their "method allows teleportation to be taken over longer distances because it involves light as the carrier of entanglement." In the future, Polzik envisions information being sent, not through wires, but through teleportation. And the great thing about this, besides light-speed access to information, is "much higher information capacity and it cannot be eavesdropped on." That's right, your information cannot be stolen if it is teleported.
So the future is looking brighter in the area of communication. This is good for Americans who are tired of worrying about identity theft and some wacko politician wanting to eavesdrop on American citizens. In the future, you won't send that email, you'll beam it up.

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