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Two Steps Closer to a Quantum Internet

Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance” can reach as far as low earth orbit, and twisted light could boost quantum communication bandwidth

4 min read
Two Steps Closer to a Quantum Internet
Laser Level: The green beam maintains alignment between sender and receiver stations located 143 kilometers
Photo: University of Vienna

In theory, the counterintuitive workings of quantum mechanics can guarantee that digital communications are utterly immune to prying eyes. That theory has advanced quickly, but the practice is now catching up, thanks to two developments by one of the field’s pioneers.

University of Vienna physicist Anton Zeilinger and his team realized the first teleportation of photons in 1997. Not to be confused with the stock-in-trade of Star Trek’s Montgomery Scott, teleportation is the instantaneous transfer of the properties of one particle to another distant one; it’s key to perhaps the most unassailable version of quantum communications. In November, Zeilinger and his team reported that they’d taken the process two important steps further.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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