|Physicists have measured the speed of spooky action at a distance — the seemingly instantaneous interaction between entangled quantum particles — at more than four orders of magnitude faster than light. Their equipment and methodology does not allow for an exact speed, but four orders of magnitude puts the figure at around 3 trillion meters per second.|
Spooky action at a distance was a term coined by Albert Einstein to describe how entangled quantum particles seem to interact with each other instantaneously, over any distance, breaking the speed of light and thus relativity.
With our current understanding of quantum mechanics, though, it is impossible to send data using quantum entanglement, preserving the theory of relativity. A lot of work is being done in this area, though, and some physicists believe that faster-than-light communication might be possible with some clever manipulation of entangled particles.
Now, with the physicists results, we know that spooky action at a distance has a lower bound of four orders of magnitude faster than light, or around 3 trillion meters per second. The caveat “at least,” is used because the physicists do not rule out that spooky action is actually instantaneous — their testing equipment and methodology simply does not allow them to get any more accurate.
To establish their figure, the physicists entangled pairs of photons at a base station, and then transmitted half of each pair to two receiving sites. The receiving sites were 15.3 kilometers (9.5mi) apart, and aligned east-west so as to minimize the interference from the Earth’s rotation (which is significant, when measuring speed on this scale).
One half of the pair was then observed, and the time for the other half to assume the same state is measured. This process was repeated continuously for 12 hours to generate enough data to accurately divine the speed of spooky action.
According to the physicists, other research groups have tried to measure the speed of spooky action before, but they’ve all had locality loopholes — flaws in the methodology that undermine the quantum nonlocality that the experiment requires. This time, the physicists claim, all the loopholes have been closed, and that their measurement of at least 3 trillion meters per second is accurate.
In recent months we’ve seen a group of international scientists teleport entangled photons over 143km (89mi), the first ever teleportation between macroscopic objects, and the first fiber optic network that can carry conventional data and quantum data. This means that a quantum internet may be moving from theory to possibility.
If it turns out that we actually can communicate data via quantum entanglement, we now know that it’ll be much faster than the speed of light.
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