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“Are you watching closely?”
Alfred Borden whispers.
He asks as he vapourises a coin in front of his nephew. As the coin re-materialises, he tells him that the secret of its disappearance impresses no one, and that it must be kept.
“Are you watching closely?”
Alfred Borden politely questions.
He asks his jailer as he distracts him by juggling his signature red rubber ball. He tricks the jailer, and chains his leg to a bench and laughs as he’s led to his execution ground. His own chains have to be re-done, for they transported from him to the jailer...
“Are… you… watching… closely?”
Alfred Borden wordlessly demands of you as he performs his act ‘The Transported Man’, where he enters one closet door and exits through another placed a distance apart in a perfectly timed act, giving the illusion of walking through any single ordinary door... Giving the illusion of his teleportation.
It’s a dreadful term; teleportation. It has a powerful magnetic attraction towards science fictional epistemology… What is teleportation; A flash of light and the transfer of bio-digital data across some spatial vortex in the universe? Or is it the many, many hats of Robert Angier from the movie The Prestige?
It is neither. Nor is it any of the popularly defined phenomena assumed by many. In fact, it is a constriction of the term ‘quantum teleportation’, a once thought of theory that has now been proved.
And so what is quantum teleportation?
It is one of the most wicked, sadistic and magical phenomena to be exhibited by any entity. And as John Cutter asserts through the film, “Every great magic trick consists of three parts, or acts. The first part is called ‘The Pledge’. The magician shows you something ordinary, a deck of cards, a bird or a man…”
Quantum teleportation is the transmission of quantum information; i.e. the exact state of an atom or a photon, from one location to another, with the help of shared quantum entanglement between the two locations and classical communication.
And quantum entanglement is the phenomena when particles physically interact in ways such that the quantum states of each particle cannot independently be described, and instead the entire system is prescribed a quantum state. In other words, they’re inextricably linked at the most infinitesimal level by their joint states.
“He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, and normal. But of course… it probably isn't.”
These entangled particles affect each other, even when separated by a distance. And this property of entanglement allows quantum data (but not classical data) to be teleported seemingly faster than the speed of light; almost instantaneously.
The reason for only quantum data being allowed teleportation is due to the fact that larger bodies are an accumulation of these smaller particles, and to teleport an entire being, the smallest of it's constituents would have to be teleported. And as the field is yet to develop, only small qubits(quantum bits) of data have been teleported.
Another advantageous property allowed by entanglement is of the ability of the particle to retain within the bounds of the works of Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger and Max Born. All cumulatively postulated that to simultaneously know the momentum and position of a particle was not possible, and thus lack of observation proposed a dual nature of the particle, concealing the details required for its utilisation. Entanglement of particles allows for this quantum information to be accessed.
Albert Einstein even commented, “Physics should represent a reality in time and space, free from spooky actions at a distance.” He disagreed with the phenomenon as it violated the laws of classical mechanics, especially with his theory of special relativity(which postulated that the ultimate possible speed is the speed of light).
"The second act is called ‘The Turn’. The magician takes that ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary.”
In 2014, Physicists led by Professor Nicolas Gisin at the University of Geneva transported the quantum state of a photon to a crystal through an ordinary optical fibre 25 kilometres long.
Aside from the phenomenal distance covered. This has been a breakthrough of considerable value, as it involved transportation between two different entities; light and matter. One is the courier of information, and the other the storage media.
“Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking.”
The secret of this mechanism relies on entanglement. The simplest explanation would be to imagine two entangled photons. The first is projected along an optical fibre, and the second is sent to a crystal.
A third photon is introduced, containing the required quantum information. It hits the first photon, and annihilates both of them (the second photon is not destroyed). This collision is measured.
“But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call ‘The Prestige’.”
Although obliterated, the information contained in the third photon is not destroyed. It is in the crystal, which also contains the second entangled photon.
The quantum states of the photons are the path that allows the teleportation from light into matter. And this teleportation concludes that in quantum physics, a particle’s quantum properties are superior to its classical physical properties.
As this data is propelled, destroyed and placed within crystals in split second movements with eerie criminal precision, watch between the flash placements… And watch closely… are you watching closely?