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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Quantum Internet Exists...

Posted by on Tue, May 7, 2013 at 10:30 AM

...and it is American. What's more, there has been a secret quantum network established at Los Alamos labs for two and a half years, according to the MIT Technology Review.

One of the dreams for security experts is the creation of a quantum internet that allows perfectly secure communication based on the powerful laws of quantum mechanics.

The basic idea here is that the act of measuring a quantum object, such as a photon, always changes it. So any attempt to eavesdrop on a quantum message cannot fail to leave telltale signs of snooping that the receiver can detect. That allows anybody to send a “one-time pad” over a quantum network which can then be used for secure communication using conventional classical communication...Today, Richard Hughes and pals at Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico reveal an alternative quantum internet, which they say they’ve been running for two and half years.

I'm nowhere near smart enough to understand the implications of all this, but I can tell you that it's a really goddamned big deal.


Comments (15) RSS

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AlaskanWayViaducks 1
You just wrinkled my brain.
Posted by AlaskanWayViaducks on May 7, 2013 at 10:38 AM · Report this
fletc3her 2
Off-the-shelf quantum communication systems have been available for a number of years. I've seen them marketed to companies which have multiple buildings and want the data sent between the buildings to be secure.

This system sounds interesting since it would use the quantum channel only for a key exchange and then the normal network for encrypted data. Certainly sounds like an interesting idea for an intranet, but it isn't clear whether it would scale to the networks most of us outside of a corporate environment.
Posted by fletc3her on May 7, 2013 at 10:48 AM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 3
@2 It says this in the article, but you're limited to two locations. "Various teams are racing to develop quantum routers that will fix this problem by steering quantum messages without destroying them."

And that's what LANL seems to have done.

It does seem like it's solved a very, very limited set of problems. What I'm waiting for is real quantum computing.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on May 7, 2013 at 10:59 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 5
Hope WIll chimes in to explain for us what this "actually" means.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on May 7, 2013 at 11:11 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 6
@2 "Off-the-shelf quantum communication systems have been available for a number of years. I've seen them marketed to companies which have multiple buildings and want the data sent between the buildings to be secure."

What vendors? Link please!
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on May 7, 2013 at 11:33 AM · Report this
treacle 7
@4 - FTW
Posted by treacle on May 7, 2013 at 11:43 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 8
@5 Will actually developed quantum computing during the Battle of Khe Sanh.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on May 7, 2013 at 11:48 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 9
@5: I really want someone to collect all of the comments Will has made about what he knows/does so we can piece together the myriad lies into one impossible Ubermensch.

He said something yesterday about seeing combat duty somehwere or something, avoiding bullets. I liked that one a lot.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on May 7, 2013 at 11:49 AM · Report this
schmacky 10
I get that reference, Paul. Well done!
Posted by schmacky on May 7, 2013 at 11:52 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 11
@8 why would I help you?

Anything over 256 encoding is fairly secure, but all your information is being stored anyway, and easily accessed without warrants. They pop a copy of the US stream offshore and run it on machines there, to make it "ok" to read your stuff.

Just use one of the open source variants and sign up for google's 1000 Gbps service you denizens of the Hill and the U Dist get while we all freeze in the dark.

Mind you, you'll all use easily guessed passwords anyway, so that's a total waste of time. And save the password file on a computer we can use.
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 7, 2013 at 11:53 AM · Report this
Will actually used quantum computing to decode the Zapruder film in 1964, thus proving that Fidel Castro was behind JFK's assassination.
Posted by WenWino on May 7, 2013 at 11:53 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 13
Man, I did that before I could talk? Cool!

Besides, it was Emperor Ferdinand, not Fidel.
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 7, 2013 at 12:05 PM · Report this
This isn't a "Big Deal" to the internet as a whole, and it's a fairly substantial improvement to an already existing technology. As @2 points out, there are off the shelf solutions today. This development is neat because it allows networks of computers to perform secure key exchanges in a more more affordable and practical way.

All this still only applies to internal LANs or relatively short distances outside your building.

The Holy Grail for cryptography is something as secure as a one way pad, but magically being able to already have the key pads in both peer locations without exposing them during transport. The key length is the same as the message length, so you need to somehow securely exchange your entire message length's worth of perfectly random key data. Quantum key exchange can do this. If only it were possible to do this across the world..
Posted by Paul F on May 7, 2013 at 1:52 PM · Report this
Geni 15
@8, I think I love you.

Posted by Geni on May 7, 2013 at 2:14 PM · Report this
Q*bert H. Humphrey 16

@14, my impression is that it's only limited by what you can do through a single-mode fiber. The limit I've seen quoted is 40km (though I've used regular (non-quantum) fiber links that did 100km over a single-mode fiber).
Posted by Q*bert H. Humphrey on May 8, 2013 at 12:38 PM · Report this

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