Superluminal Communication

Superluminal communication is the hypothetical process by which one might send information at faster-than-light (FTL) speeds.

Some theories and experiments include:

  • Group velocity > c experiments
  • Evanescent wave coupling
  • Tachyons
  • Quantum nonlocality

According to the currently accepted theory, three of those four phenomena do not produce superluminal communication, even though they may give that appearance under some conditions. The third, tachyons, arguably do not exist as their existence is hypothetical; even if their existence were to be proven, attempts to quantize them appear to indicate that they may not be used for superluminal communication, because experiments to produce or absorb tachyons cannot be fully controlled.

If wormholes are possible, then ordinary subluminal methods of communication could be sent through them to achieve superluminal transmission speeds. Considering the immense energy that current theories suggest would be required to open a wormhole large enough to pass spacecraft through it may be that only atomic-scale wormholes would be practical to build, limiting their use solely to information transmission. Some theories of wormhole formation would prevent them from ever becoming "timeholes", allowing superluminal communication without the additional complication of allowing communication with the past.

In standard quantum mechanics, it is generally accepted that the no cloning theorem prevents superluminal communication via quantum entanglement alone, leading to the no-communication theorem. Consider the EPR thought experiment, and suppose quantum states could be cloned. Alice could send bits to Bob in the following way:

If Alice wishes to transmit a '0', she measures the spin of her electron in the z direction, collapsing Bob's state to either |z+>B or |z->B. If Alice wishes to transmit a '1', she measures the spin of her electron in the x direction, collapsing Bob's state to either |x+>B or |x->B. Bob creates many copies of his electron's state, and measures the spin of each copy in the z direction. If Alice transmitted a '0', all his measurements will produce the same result; otherwise, his measurements will be split evenly between +1/2 and -1/2. This would allow Alice and Bob to communicate across space-like separations.

However, some authors have pointed out that at least some of the no-communication arguments are tautological, having the limitation on superluminal communication built into the starting assumptions.

Although such communication is prohibited in the thought experiment described above, some argue that superluminal communication could be achieved via quantum entanglement using other methods that don't rely on cloning a quantum system. One suggested method would use an ensemble of entangled particles to transmit information, similar to a type of quantum eraser experiments. As the quantum eraser experiments rely on a classical, subluminal channel for coincidence detection, it is unclear whether superluminal communication would be possible by this method. Physicist John G. Cramer at the University of Washington is attempting to replicate one of these experiments and demonstrate whether or not it can produce superluminal communication.

Other articles related to "superluminal communication":

Faster-than-light Communication
... Superluminal communication is the hypothetical process by which one might send information at faster-than-light (FTL) speeds ... three of those four phenomena do not produce superluminal communication, even though they may give that appearance under some conditions ... indicate that they may not be used for superluminal communication, because experiments to produce or absorb tachyons cannot be fully controlled ...