Beam me up? Scientists teleport first object ever from Earth into space

Chinese scientists successfully teleported an object from the Earth’s surface to an orbiting satellite for the first time ever. A photon — a tiny sub-atomic particle — was “transported” from the Gobi Desert to China’s Micius satellite some 310 miles above the surface.

The Guardian reported it’s a new record distance for quantum teleportation, which occurs when the complete properties of one particle are instantaneously transferred to another — in effect teleporting it to a distant location. The technique has been in use since the 1990s, but it’s the first time this has been done from Earth to space over such a long distance.

It’s hard to fully comprehend, but the photon wasn’t physically transported, Oxford University physicist Ian Walmsley explained to the BBC. Instead, he said the information from one photon on Earth was transferred to a second photon up in the satellite.

“It’s certainly a scientific breakthrough,” Walmsley said.

Teleportation like this is a building block for a wide range of technologies, the study said.

There are a number of applications for this procedure, according to Walmsley: “Everything from secure long-distance communications through perhaps eventually using it as part of a cloud-based computing network, that allows you to send the information from one party to another in a way that’s secure and can’t be tapped into.”

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