Quantum entanglement is right at the cutting edge of current theorizing about the universe and how it is made up. The theory, if true, create a mode of communication faster than light. It has been a theory for decades. Can it actually be executed?
The introduction to Quantum Technology itself opens up many opportunities and possibilities. Researchers and scientists have dedicated their time, effort and skills to deriving its potential and utilization in various ongoing aspects of this world.
Among all the possibilities or opportunities of Quantum Technology, one evident research parameter is the speed of communications. The experts are digging deeper into this parameter to consider if quantum communication can be faster than the speed of light.
We already have quantum computers: we needed them once our computers became so small and so fast that they encountered quantum physics anyway. Why not take advantage, right?
“Spooky Action at a Distance”
Quantum Entanglement is a phenomenon or concept started by Albert Einstein, described as “Spooky Action at a Distance.” This phenomenon of FTL (Faster than Light) communications was not necessarily in Einstein’s mind, but it is that to which he was referring.
Quantum particles exist in pairs, both of which hold an unknown “superposition” where they are either in one state or the other. Crucially, observing one of the two particles guarantees that you will also know the condition of the other particle too: wherever it may be, the fact it is entangled with the first particle allows you to know with certainty something about it.
In this proposition or theory, it is observed that the entangled quantum particles interact with one another, irrespective of the distance between them. They bypass normal reality (whatever that is) and therefore do not obey the current large-scale laws of physics.
However with the current knowledge of quantum mechanics, it is practically impossible for someone to send data using this entanglement. To process communication, you need to send information or data, and quantum mechanics might not be able to do that through the entangled particles.
It was Einstein’s view that this was not a possible phenomenon, as it would violate all existing models of physics. And he advised on a way of coexistence for entanglement and classic physics, which stated it would work only if there is a hidden variable within the entanglement that acts as a messenger between the two subatomic particles.
The only problem was that there was no way of verifying the theory or coexisting theory stated by Einstein. Moreover, the phenomena of achieving a communication medium faster than light were also proposed, just in the theories.
In a scientific explanation, quantum entanglement is a theory or phenomenon which explains the intimate link between two subatomic particles, even when they are kept apart from one another by billions of light years. The theory further states that, even though they are interlinked through a vast separation, the changes induced in one subatomic particle will affect the other.
Hence, this is why a name has been stated for this phenomenon, “Spooky Action at a Distance”. Even though these two particles are not connected physically, they can still share information instantaneously, which could be far faster than the speed of light.
This immediately breaks the law of physics which states no information or data can ever be shared at a speed faster than light. More accurately, it bypasses this law by communicating instantaneously: it is not travelling faster than the speed of light if it is instantaneous, as it is not strictly moving at all.
Even though this parameter sets up the question in the minds of scientists to consider quantum entanglement for enabling communications faster than the speed of light, the concept is not so simple to master.
In 2019, researchers from the University of Glasgow produced the first ever live images that showed quantum entanglement in action. The photo was captured with an advanced system of focusing crystals and lasers.
It was the pivotal test of this phenomenon. People are already using the concept of quantum entanglement in certain applications such as cryptography and quantum computing. But, this was the first time a camera was finally used to confirm the functionality of entanglement.
When the photo was studied, it was found that the entangled particle pairs were correlated and were in sync beyond expectations. Apart from that, it is also proven that quantum effects change the type of images you can record from any form of camera.
There has been a constant buzz around quantum entanglement and its ability to enable communications faster than light. After the 2019 photo of entangled particles, researchers and scientists gave in their intense efforts to determine whether this phenomenon has some reality in implementation.
Some of the recent breakthroughs came from the 2022 winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics. Alain Aspect, Anton Zeilinger and John Clauser, winners of the prize, have established that the quantum entanglement phenomenon is real and has the potential to be utilized for enhancing hack-free communications and computing advancements.
Moving further, there is yet another discovery by the physicists on quantum entanglement among the top news pieces of 2023. The phenomenon of quantum entanglement has allowed scientists to look within the atoms at high energies. This wasn’t considered possible before physicists tried exploring these quantum phenomena.
This study determined that two ongoing particles have different charges and are two different particles. But, some form of interference patterns is recorded, which states that the particles are entangled or in sync with one another. Hence, nuclear physicists believe this discovery might enable futuristic technologies to promote FTL communications.
But eventually, there is no verdict on whether it can be used faster than light communication. There are still studies and discoveries that aren’t yet tested practically to find a definite answer. But, the related research and experiments indicate the possibility of this phenomena’s execution. All science indicates it can be achieved.
So, let’s just wait for scientists from all across the world to dive deeper into this phenomenon for quite a few more years till there is a verdict to rely on. Until then, researchers and physicists will never stop their excavation into this phenomenon, and people might soon get the first mode of communication faster than light.
And then the universe would really open up.
Top Image: Quantum Entanglement effectively allows for a form of teleportation, where information is passed instantaneously from one particle to another. Source: National Science Foundation / Public Domain.
By Bipin Dimri