When news broke this summer that Chinese scientists had engineered the successful “teleportation” of a photon over a distance greater than 300 miles, Star Trek fans around the globe rejoiced. It was, however, a belated celebration: teleportation has been around as a serious theory for twenty-five years and has been a reality in the lab for twenty.
On the other hand, one might argue the celebration was premature. If one defines teleportation as the transfer of an object from one place to another without crossing intervening space (what Scotty does when Jim Kirk is in trouble), then what the Chinese performed was not teleportation. The object, a photon, was not transferred, but information about the object—its quantum footprint, so to speak—was.
While Star Trek fans might be disappointed, scientists, technology companies and the intelligence community are thrilled. Because “teleportation,” or “telephresis” as some scientists prefer to call it, happens instantaneously…
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