No, they didn’t teleport a person dressed as Spock.
Using a complex new steering mechanism, scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai have shattered the previous record for teleporting a photon. Set by the same team but different researchers in 2010, the old record of 16 kilometers (or 10 miles) was beaten when Juan Yin and his colleagues sent a photon across a lake in China for the incredible distance of 97 kilometers (60 miles).
You’re probably thinking “60 miles, big deal. If I had to go somewhere 60 miles away I’d just drive there and save myself the hassle and the possibility of splinching.” While this technology won’t be used to transfer physical objects any time soon, the information could revolutionize communications.
Teleportation, or rather, quantum entanglement, is defined by the fact that it can transfer information without traveling through space, making the information that is being transferred impossible to intercept. Usually, entangled photons are sent down optical fibers, and thus can’t travel far without the glass screwing up the connection. The Chinese scientists, however, have perfected the use of a 1.3 Watt laser and a series of optics that keep the beam from spreading out and disintegrating the link between the two photons.
So in actuality, this is less Star Trek and more James Bond meets Dan Brown. Or, if you’ve read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, like the Gallivespian’s lodestone transmitters. This technology probably won’t be available to the ordinary citizen in the near future, but just imagine how wonderful that day will be when you don’t have to wait eighteen minutes for your three minute Youtube video to load…