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January 2002 issue of
World Press Review
(VOL. 49, No. 1)
A physics professor
at Vienna University, Anton Zeilinger is perhaps best known
as Mr. Beam. The moniker, which plays on the name of the popular
British comedy program Mr. Bean, alludes to the fanciful application
of one of Zeilingers discoveries regarding subatomic particles.
More than 30 years since Star Trek first aired on
television, the transporter room, along with the expression
Beam me up, Scotty, still belongs to the realm of
science fiction. And science fiction it is likely to remain
for the foreseeable future, despite a small but important step
that Zeilinger and his colleagues have made in the kind of teleportation
depicted on the popular TV series.
Implicit in the quantum theory of physics is teleportationthe
idea that a particle, or a full quantum description of a particlecan
be sent instantly over an indefinite distance. Albert Einstein
predicted teleportation before rejecting it as excessively counterintuitive.
In 1997, Zeilinger and a group of colleagues confirmed this
aspect of the quantum theory when they managed to teleport light
particles over several kilometers.
Zeilingers research is sufficently impressive that his
colleagues regard him as a strong contender for the Nobel Prize,
according to the Austrian magazine Profil (July 16, 2001).
In June 2001, he was awarded Germanys Orden Pour le Mérite.
As keenly interested in the humanities as the sciences, Zeilingera
bass-playing jazz aficionadohardly fits the stereotype
of the coolly detached researcher in a white coat. One of Zeilingers
colleagues, Peter Zoller, told Profil: He has an
artists nose, the artistic intuition of a good painter.
He has the brilliant ability to put his finger on the right
points, to pick out the raisins in the cake.
Scientists are looking seriously at more immediate implications
of Zeilingers work for technology and research. These
include cryptography and a new theory of quantum mechanics,
according to New Delhis The Statesman and Londons