When it comes to weird quantum effects, none is weirder than quantum teleportation. Scientists can—and have—used the unique and complicated physics of quantum mechanics to instantaneously teleport small particles across great distances. Now, a Chinese team has broken the distance record by teleporting particles to a satellite in space.
When we talk about teleportation, we should be clear about exactly what that means. Nobody’s beaming people to space like in Star Trek. Instead, quantum teleportation is a complicated and delicate process involving sending information across space using entangled particles and reassembling it somewhere else.
We’ve written about quantum teleportation before, and a full explainer can be found here.
The hardest part of quantum teleportation is the entanglement. When two particles are entangled, they’re essentially ‘in sync’ with each other, and they’ll stay in sync no matter how far apart they are. But if one of the particles hits something else—like the air, or a beam of light, or literally anything—then the entanglement could be broken.