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China to Launch 1st Quantum Communication Satellite

Aug 15, 2016     Email"> PrintText Size

[video:20160815-China to launch 1st quantum comms satellite]
 

There's plenty of excitement around the launch of the world's first quantum communication satellite, but what you're probably wondering is, how will it change our lives - especially in the age of cyber attacks, wiretapping and information leakage?

China will launch the world's first quantum communication satellite in a matter of days. If the satellite works well, how will it affect people's lives?

In normal silicon computer chips, data is rendered in one of two states: 0 or 1. However, in quantum computers, data can exist in both states simultaneously, holding exponentially more information. One analogy to explain the concept of quantum computing is that it is like being able to read all the books in a library at the same time, whereas conventional computing is like having to read them one after another.

Such powerful computing ability is also viewed as a threat in that it could make everything on a conventional computer hackable. However, like a coin with two sides, quantum mechanics also serves as protector of information. Quantum key technology boasts ultra-high security as a photon can be neither separated nor duplicated, so it is impossible to wiretap or intercept the information transmitting through it. Moreover, it has the ability to inform the two communicating users of the presence of any third party trying to eavesdrop. At the same time, the information being intercepted would "collapse" or self-destruct.

China will complete and put into operation the world's first secure quantum communication backbone  network, the Beijing-Shanghai network, later this year. The 2,000-kilometer backbone network will be used in the fields of finance, electronics and government affairs. Experts say quantum communication could enter everyday life in about 10 years, securing online banking and payments.

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(Editor: LIU Jia)

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