We’re hanging out at the International Conference On Quantum Technologies in Moscow this week and grabbed some time to speak to Professor Eugene Polzik of the Niels Bohr Institute Of Copenhagen University.
Professor Polzik is noted for his work in quantum teleportation, the transmission of quantum data (called qubits) from one place to another at the speed of light.
This smacks of science fiction, but it happens every single day – electrons “teleport” by themselves all the time by way of a process called quantum tunneling.
Our biggest question for him was a straightforward one: Why are the rules for the quantum world so drastically different from the rules for the macroscopic world that we see with our naked eye?
Polzik smiled and said, “The rules are the same. You just have to look closely.”
Indeed, those weird electrons that constitute every part of your very body (and all matter) are doing all kinds of non-obvious things that defy understanding at the surface level – they’re engaging in quantum tunneling, they’re existing in multiple places at once, they’re moving forwards and backwards in time.
If the very stuff that makes us up can do all this, then why can’t we teleport and time travel ourselves?
It’s because probability plays a very large role in the quantum world. Theoretically you could push your hand through a wall if your hand’s atoms passed through the empty spaces between the wall’s atoms. Maybe even every particle of your body “teleport” themselves around the world and assemble themselves to re-make you in another place.
But this would require the organised participation of every single particle in your body. The odds of this happening are so infinitesimal that it might as well be a statistical impossibility.
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