Saturday science subject: Teleporting atoms
A team of Australian physicists have come up with a way to teleport atoms across long distances through optical fibers. As News.com.au reports, the physicists—Murray Olsen, Ashton Bradley, and Simon Haine from the Australian Research Council Centre for Quantum-Atom Optics as well as Joseph Hope from the Australian National University—compare their teleportation technique to the "beaming" system seen in Star Trek. Trying to teleport humans would probably be difficult, though, because the technique involves cooling atoms to temperatures near absolute zero:
The atoms are cooled to almost absolute zero, or -273C. At a billionth of a degree above this temperature, a quirk of physics makes all the atoms start behaving in the same way. Then the scientists zap them with two lasers. . . . "If you cool these atoms down enough ... in a condensate, they all enter the same quantum state,” Dr Olsen said. . . . "When a few thousand atoms are overlapping (and you hit them with the laser beams)... they basically disappear. . . . "We can use an optic fibre (to transport the signal at the speed of light) into a second condensate, which could be in another room, or another building, or another state.
As Dr. Olsen says, the technique makes use of "the coldest thing in the universe and the fastest speed in the universe." Olsen expects the method to be used in laboratories some time in the next four years.