Beam Me Up

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>> Watch the full video of Brian Greene and Gideon Yago's conversation here:

From a conversation between Columbia physicist Brian Greene and journalist and screenwriter Gideon Yago ’00CC hosted by the Columbia Alumni Association and the Columbia College Alumni Association in Beverly Hills on April 29.

GIDEON YAGO: Thirty-nine percent of the American people believe that teleportation is going to be possible within the next fifty years. Um, does that strike you as . . . high?

BRIAN GREENE: Well, it is disturbing for people to say that, because we can do it now.

YAGO: I’m sorry, come again?

GREENE: It depends on precisely what kind of teleportation you’re talking about, but we do teleport individual particles right now from one location to another. Which is, to me, amazing. There’s this fellow Anton Zeilinger who presumably will win the Nobel Prize ... who has a wonderful laboratory set up in the Canary Islands ... and he routinely teleports particles from one island to another ...

One of the weirdest characteristics of quantum mechanics, which was revealed back in the 1930s, is that you can have a particle over here and a particle over there, and you can set these particles up in such a way that if you do an experiment on one, it has an effect on the other ... Einstein called that spooky. Spooky action at a distance. So these two particles, even though they’re far apart, they somehow, in a quantum mechanical way, talk to each other.

How can you leverage that into teleportation? If there’s something I want to teleport, I can bring it next to this particle in New York, allowing them to commingle. Through their commingling, ... properties of the particle I want to teleport get imprinted on the particle in Los Angeles. Then, with a little extra detail — and that’s where quantum mechanics, the math, comes into the story — I can manipulate this particle to make it an exact copy of the particle that I wanted to teleport. And weirdly, the particle that I wanted to teleport, because it commingled, gets affected, gets changed, so the original no longer even exists. The only version of the original is this one in Los Angeles. So in some sense, I took the particle from New York and I made it appear in Los Angeles. I have teleported it.

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