For the first time ever, research scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with the Institute for Soldier Technologies have demonstrated a level of control over the phenomenon known as quantum randomness.
If perfected, controlling quantum randomness could lead to a number of scientific breakthroughs, including the ability to perform previously impossible probabilistic quantum computing and advanced field sensing technologies.
Are Vacuum Fluctuations in the Quantum World Uncontrollable?
To achieve the breakthrough, the research team zeroed in on the phenomenon of vacuum fluctuations. A vacuum is typically depicted as an area of space completely devoid of any matter or energy. However, in the quantum realm, even the emptiest of space experiences minor fluctuations.
“Imagine a calm sea that suddenly gets waves,” the researchers explained in a press release announcing their breakthrough accomplishment, “that’s similar to what happens in a vacuum at the quantum level.”
Unlike the mathematically predictable movement of macro-scale objects that are governed by Newton’s laws of motion, motion in the quantum realm is effectively random. Such random fluctuations have allowed engineers to build random number generators that are truly random, a necessary tool in a number of areas of research but have otherwise stymied many areas of research. That’s because, when scientists try to simulate the real world, the ability to factor randomness into the equation has been particularly elusive.
“Conventionally, computers function in a deterministic manner, executing step-by-step instructions that follow a set of predefined rules and algorithms,” explain MIT postdoctoral associates Charles Roques-Carmes and Yannick Salamin and MIT professors Marin Soljačić and John Joannopoulos in their published research. “In this paradigm, if you run the same operation multiple times, you always get the exact same…