Science fiction is as the name suggests the fiction of science. I thought it would be a fun, interesting and at times mind bending idea too look at the science behind some of the technology in science fiction and look under the hood to see what’s required to make it work or what barriers are in the way.
Science in Sci-Fi – Quantum Entanglement Communication
First off – what is quantum entanglement? It’s where 2 sub atomic particles (were talking protons, neutrons, electrons etc here) become ‘linked’ in some way so that they both reflect the state of the other. This science is on the cutting edge of what we’re able to achieve.
This is science fact.
How does it work
If two ‘joined’ particles are separated by a long distance these 2 particles continue to reflect the state of the other. The interesting thing is that it seems to be that the change occurs instantly, regardless of distance. The Chinese have carried out experiments over hundreds or thousands of kilometres and proved that it works over this distance. What this might mean is that instant communication over long distances, like interplanetary or interstellar distances might be instantaneous.
This is at least how the Science Fiction world uses it. As always with Science Fiction the writers are trying to overcome the technical obstacles of now for their stories as the future needs to be better than it is now.
The idea of fast or instantaneous communication using something like quantum entanglement is something that would revolutionize space exploration – imagine being able to talk to Mars explorers in real time like on a telephone call on Earth. It’s exciting. The added advantage is that it’s totally unhackable, another linked particle to eavesdrop can’t be found.
What are the Challenges?
As with all these things are are challenges, most of which is the big unknown in this case and that is – How far can 2 particles be entangled for? Will they even reach the Moon? It would be a bit of an issue to create a radio for our future star travellers and they lose contact long before they reach the destination.
For now though, Sci-Fi thinkers and writers ignore the unknowns and carry on regardless. I don’t blame them – otherwise talking though space is a very long winded and boring conversation with most of it being the delay induced by boring light speed.
© Simon Farnell 2013 – 2022
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