Thursday, February 2, 2012

Quantum Spies

Most of my friends are 'spooks' - feisty, fearless females who conceal their pistols in designer handbags and carry two lipsticks, one glossy, and one that doubles as a listening device. 

Espionage is about gathering intelligence, not engaging in fist fights or pointless debates. While that can be entertaining, when on a mission, it's frivolous, dangerous behavior. 

Thanks to quantum cryptography, a secure means of communication that utilizes properties of light to encrypt information, messages can now be sent without having to deliver that briefcase in person. 

How does it work you ask? By reversing the magnetic field, which reverses absorption and later releases light. Essentially, the time evolution of atoms are reversed. This produces a photon echo: a photon goes in and a photon echo comes out. 

Not only can we control what messages come out, but also when they come out using a second control laser. The combination of control beam and magnetic field switching make it possible to choose exactly when to recall any of the stored pulses, how much of it to recall and how fast to recall it. 

So, what does a spy do all day while her quantum communication networks grow? 

Send out messages of solidarity across the globe to counteract unresolved tensions, social unrest, national angst, acrimonious politics, and stagnant economies to sweeten the experience of being with fresh, new insights into humor, philosophy, culture and quantum stuff. 

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