Successful Teleportation
Experiment Brings Future Closer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - They may not be able to ask Scotty to beam them up yet, but California researchers said Thursday they had completed the first "full" teleportation experiment.
They said they had teleported a beam of light across a laboratory bench. They did not physically transport the beam itself, but transmitted its properties to another beam, creating a replica of the first beam.
"We claim this is the first bona fide teleportation," Jeff Kimble, a physics professor at the California Institute of Technology, said in a telephone interview.
Kimble thinks the experiment can eventually transform everyday life.
Scientists hope that quantum computers, which move information about in this way rather than by using wires and silicon chips, will be infinitely faster and more powerful than present-day computers.
"I believe that quantum information is going to be really important for our society, not in five years or 10 years, but if we look into the 100-year time frame it's hard to imagine that advanced societies don't use quantum information," Kimble said.
"The appetite of society is so voracious for the moving and processing of information that it will be driven to exploit even the crazy realm of quantum physics."
Quantum teleportation allows information to be transmitted at the speed of light -- the fastest speed possible -- without being slowed down by wires or cables.
The experiment depends on a property known as entanglement -- what Albert Einstein once described as "spooky action at a distance."
It is a property of atomic particles that mystifies even physicists. Sometimes two particles that are a very long distance apart are nonetheless somehow twinned, with the properties of one affecting the other.
"Entanglement means if you tickle one the other one laughs," Kimble said.
In the weird world of quantum physics, where the normal ideas of what is solid or what is real do not apply, scientists can use these properties to their advantage.
What Kimble's team did was create two entangled light beams -- streams of photons. Photons, the basic unit of light, sometimes act like particles and sometimes like waves.
They used these two entangled beams to carry information about the quantum state of a third beam. The first two beams were destroyed in the process, but the third successfully transmitted its properties over a distance of about a yard, Kimble's team reported in the journal Science.
Last December a team of physicists in Innsbruck, Austria and a month later another team in Rome said they did a similar thing, with single photons. But Kimble said his team was able to verify what they had done, and also used full light beams as opposed to single photons.
"Ours is an important advance beyond that," he said.
Although the Caltech team worked with light, Kimble thinks teleportation could be applied to solid objects. For instance, the quantum state of a photon could be teleported and applied to a particle, even to an atom.
"Way beyond sex change operations and genetic engineering, the quantum state of one entity could be transported to another entity," Kimble said. "We think we know how to do that."
In other words, an object's individual atoms would not be transported, but transmitting its properties could create a perfect replica.
Could this mean the transporters of the television and movie science-fiction series Star Trek, which beam people and objects for huge distances, could one day be a reality?
"I don't think anybody knows the answer," Kimble said. "Let's don't teleport a person -- let's teleport the smallest bacterium. How much entanglement would we need to teleport such a thing?"
Would such a teleported bacterium actually be the same bacterium, or just a very good copy?
"Again, no one knows for sure," Kimble said. But his team is working on it.