Scientists report they've broken the distance record for quantum teleportation. While the feat sounds like something similar to Star Trek's "beam up," quantum teleportation is the act of transferring or reconstructing data carried in light particles.

The scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) managed to transfer this quantum information from one photon to another over 100 km of optical fiber (with an average fidelity of around 83 percent), which is four times farther than the previous record. The achievement is a big one, although it may not sound like much.

For a while quantum data could only be transferred across short distances, and still much of the information would get lost. NIST’s Marty Stevens, a co-author on the study, explained, “Only about 1 percent of photons make it all the way through 100 km of fiber. We never could have done this experiment without these new detectors, which can measure this incredibly weak signal.”

So, what does this achievement mean for the rest of us? NIST explained in a press release: “Teleportation is useful in both quantum communications and quantum computing, which offer prospects for novel capabilities such as unbreakable encryption and advanced code-breaking, respectively.” Maybe we could finally break that encrypted message aliens have been trying to send to us.

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Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

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