Quantum entanglement may be the solution to private communication and digital privacy in general. Who knew such a thing existed?! Until China captured worldwide attention with their first QE communications satellite, chances are this phenomenon wasn’t on your radar.
If you’re already lost, no worries. I even hesitated to write about this topic based on its complexity, but how could I turn down the opportunity to learn about and share such a cool concept, or any concept for that matter? No way. Let’s take this step by step; just enough to understand the concept without getting too tangled. It’s spooky stuff as you’ll soon find out.
To begin, let’s break it all the way down and start with quantum mechanics in general. What is that? It’s the study of the very basic components of matter such as atoms and electrons, and then even smaller than that. At this level, the rules of interaction change* and the field of quantum mechanics is born. QM in general strives to mathematically describe the interaction, or the new rules of interaction, of these subatomic* particles.
As QM evolves and we develop our understanding of how these particles interact, a whole new era of quantum technology will become available. The best part, is that these quantum tools seem to defy the laws of physics. So what happens when the rules are broken? Is the quantum revolution the next to come after the industrial revolution? We are just scratching the surface of this field and it will change the way our world works. So far, an unhackable communications network and communicating instantaneously over vast distances on Earth and through space are on the near horizon. So how is this possible?
This is where we get into quantum entanglement (QE) and spooky action at a distance. Let’s start with QE first. It’s a tricky one because quite frankly, no one truly understands how this works, yet. I’m going to borrow this explanation from the next web as they describe QE in the context of communication:
“…instead of sending information, you’ll create pairs of photons that mirror one another. This is called quantum entanglement. You’ll keep one of the photons, send someone else the other entangled photon, and then anything you do to your photon instantly happens to the other person’s photon.”
Yes, it’s a tricky concept to grasp. Let’s use the example of China’s satellite to clarify. Simply put, there’s one photon on Earth, and one photon in the satellite, and these photons have a relationship where they mirror whatever manipulation is made to their twin photon. So, enter a secret message in photon number one on Earth, and its twin photon in the satellite will instantly mirror the message. The best part is that this little understood phenomena was named by Einstein as spooky action at a distance,* because it’s exactly that, weird stuff.
We don’t know why these photons behave in this way, but we do know what we can use this for. I’ve listed two uses so far. First, this method of communication is unhackable with current technology. Quantum entanglement allows for communication with no transfer of signal. With no signal to intercept, there’s no way to hack the data. Second, is instant communication. The way the twin photons mirror each other instantaneously solves the issue of radio waves traveling through space over time. So don’t stress! If your bestie moves to Mars you’ll still be able to have real time conversations.
If I could write about theories such as this each day, I’d really be living the dream. Theory that develops into usable science is very exciting stuff, but also very complex. I admire the level of genius required to understand all this, and want to share it. So, for all posts, and this one in particular, I welcome feedback. Help me get it right. Comments, questions, corrections- bring it on! It’s a collective effort to move forward.
- *Rules change: such as Einstein’s laws of relativity
- *Subatomic– smaller than an atom (simply put)
- *Action at a distance– In physics, action at a distance is the concept that an object can be moved, changed, or otherwise affected without being physically touched (as in mechanical contact) by another object.