Quantum communications have ultra-high security. It is impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through them, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Friday, China’s pioneering quantum satellite Micius facilitated the first-ever intercontinental video conference using a quantum communications network.

The video call connected Chunli Bai, the president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, with Anton Zeilinger, president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, a distance of over 4,600 miles. It was the first real-world demonstration that showed that a global quantum internet is not only possible, but within reach.

Quantum communications have ultra-high security. It is impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through them, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The satellite transmits a signal around the globe using quantum entanglement, or creating pairs of photons that exist in the same quantum state. Even at great distances, the two photons will be identical to each other, allowing one to communicate via entangled photons as long as both sides possess the same secret key to access them. In this case, the key was a polarized proton, or a subatomic piece of light with tweaked magnetism and spin on its axis.

Scientists have referred to the process as “teleporting” a photon through space — making something here appear suddenly there.

It’s theoretically impossible to hack that transmission. Anyone who intercepted information would observe and therefore alter the key according to the laws of quantum mechanics. Both sides would immediately be alerted to an interloper, too.

China will now carry out more experiments with some other places in the world including Italy, Germany, Russia and Singapore to test the quantum communications.

WHAT IS QUANTUM ENTANGLEMENT?

In quantum physics, entangled particles remain connected so that actions performed by one affects the behaviour of the other, even if they are separated by huge distances.

This means if you measure, ‘up’ for the spin of one photon from an entangled pair, the spin of the other, measured an instant later, will be ‘down’ – even if the two are on opposite sides of the world.

Entanglement takes place when a part of particles interact physically. For instance, a laser beam fired through a certain type of crystal can cause individual light particles to be split into pairs of entangled photons.

The theory that so riled Einstein is also referred to as ‘spooky action at a distance’. Einstein wasn’t happy with theory, because it suggested that information could travel faster than light.

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