Although we haven’t found any evidence of extraterrestrial life yet, that doesn’t mean it isn’t out there, beyond our reach. Now a team of researchers has come up with a mathematical model showing that aliens could potentially communicate across space – via quantum physics.
Efforts are well advanced to make quantum communications a reality here on Earth. The idea is that quantum mechanics provides certain properties that would make the transfer of information inherently faster and safer than ordinary systems…if we can make it work.
One of the main hurdles to overcome before quantum networks can be established is that they are very fragile and susceptible to interference. According to this latest study, such networks could fly through space without breaking.
“Quantum states that you usually think of as very delicate, and if there’s some kind of external interaction, you sort of destroy that state,” said the research’s lead author, theoretical physicist Arjun Berera of the University of Edinburgh in the UK. Scientific News.
Berera and his colleague Jaime Calderón-Figueroa, a fellow theoretical physicist at the University of Edinburgh, performed calculations on the movement of X-rays through the vacuum of space to check for potential decoherence (the breaking up of quantum state).
If the photons – particles of light – were used as quantum particles, the researchers determined that they could be scattered for hundreds of thousands of light-years at least, a greater distance than the entire galaxy of the Milky Way.
This is partly because the average density of matter in space is much lower than it is on Earth, and this “cleaner” environment means less chance of interference. Even gravitational pulls wouldn’t be enough to derail a quantum communication network.
“It is plausible that photon-mediated quantum communication can be established over interstellar distances, especially for photons in the X-ray region below the mass of electrons,” the researchers write in their published article.
Whether extraterrestrial lifeforms are using quantum networks to talk to each other or to try to contact us is, of course, pure speculation – but at the same time, it gives astronomers another potential sign of life they can watch for.
The “considerable information transfer” possible with a quantum signal would make it attractive to any extraterrestrial intelligence in the cosmos, the researchers say, although it may require a fully functioning quantum computer to decode it.
And even quantum communication isn’t magic: information still can’t travel faster than the speed of light, so transmissions can take years to reach their destinations.
Based on these findings, we can now add quantum communication as well as classical communication to the possible ways extraterrestrials might chat with each other – or perhaps try to introduce themselves to us.
“In principle, it should be possible to detect a quantum signal from an astrophysical body or even an intelligent signal from an extraterrestrial civilization,” they write. Researchers.
The research has been published in Physical examination D.