Thursday 18 August 2016

China's leap into Quantum Communications

In a cloud of smoke, China's QUESS satellite soared into the dark sky. Quantum Experiment at Space Scale ( QUESS ), nicknamed Micius after a Chinese philosopher, lifted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre near the Gobi desert. The satellite is designed to test the limits of quantum communication, an avenue of scientific endeavour that would mean hack-proof communications.

Quantum encryption is secured against any kind of computing power because information is encoded in quantum particles is changed as soon as it is measured. Making the information impossible to clone. China's QUESS satellite is a big breakthrough in the field of cyber security. In simple encryption, the message sent by one party to another can be easily hacked and read by different parties. Stealing state secrets and defence secrets from governments is the top aim of cyber hackers. The information which they decode is valuable to the enemy country which can result to competitive advantage for the country.

The satellite's two year mission will be to develop hack-proof quantum communication, allowing users to send messages securely faster than the speed of light. Technically, nothing is hacked-proof but entangled protons will change in state if they are tampered with, allowing the users to know whether it is hacked or not. The success in the mission would also mean the birth of quantum internet. Physicists expect quantum internet to be faster than Li-Fi.

Micius is an experiment to explore something unknown. It might not work at all. But if it does, it might unlock potential for something Star Trek fans have dreamed of. QUESS have the potential to enable physical teleportation. A faster than light communication would allow us to explore our universe and even other universes.

- Chaitanya Kulkarni


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