Daily Dose of iQ: Quantum Physics to the Rescue!

Aug 29, 2013 — Garett Rogers

For most of us, quantum physics seems like something that belongs in science fiction novels -- but it's not fiction.  It's a real thing that will one day make things that seem logically impossible, possible.

As a non-physicist bystander, the science behind some of these technologies isn't necessarily what I'm interested in -- it's the actual implementations and possibilities of what can theoretically be done that makes me really excited.

For example.  I have no idea how "entanglement" actually works -- but the fact is -- it does.  So what is entanglement?  Well, to put it simply, properties of entangled quantum particles mimic each other.  So, when you measure the properties one of the entangled particles, the other one will always have the same properties (actually, the exact opposite).  What's interesting about this?  Well, entangled particles can be separated by great distances, and it still "works". Researchers successfully separated two entangled light particles, or photons, 144 kilometres, and it still "worked" as theorized.

Quantum physics, and the future of quantum computing is around the corner and it's going to blow your mind.

What does this mean for us,  the every-day non-physicist? Well, imagine two devices were each given one of two entangled photons (you don't have to know how they got them, just trust it is possible).  The sending device could use the properties of its single photon as an encryption key -- and the receiver of a message would be able to decrypt the message using the properties of the other photon.  An encryption implementation like this would basically be impossible to crack, because the key itself is never transmitted between the devices.

Another interesting tidbit from the world of quantum science is called the "Observer Effect".  The act of observing a "physical process" in a quantum system actually changes the process.

So what does this mean, or how can it be useful for people like us?  Well, researchers are figuring out ways to send an encryption key (made up of pattern of photons) in a way that if "observed" (or in our world, if there is a bad guy wire-tapping the line), the encryption key "breaks" or "changes" due to the Observer Effect. So if the encryption key isn't received by the destination device intact, then the receiver knows the wire is tapped, and tells the sender not to send the real message. 

Quantum physics, and the future of quantum computing is around the corner -- and it's going to blow your mind (if you actually try to figure out how it works, that is).

Topics: iQ News, Mobile Industry

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