China finds cool way to take everyone’s mind off Olympics failures

Imagine a universe different from Einstein’s. One where the South China Morning Post tackles quantum physics…


The SCMP stresses the quantum orbiter project’s potential to enable the glorious motherland to have ‘un-hackable’ communications. The real-life applications, which include computing, are overshadowed by the freakiness of the theoretical science. One attempt to explain this advises that ‘hardly anyone on the planet truly understands quantum physics, and some of them are probably bluffing’. Another says it sounds ‘more like paranormal activity than physics’. For example, ‘by the very act of watching, the observer affects observed reality’. The cat, it seems, cannot only be alive and dead – but in two different places at once. As someone more or less put it: if you understand quantum physics, you haven’t studied it properly. (A stab at de-mystifying the quantum entanglement thing is here.)

Something else we cannot get our head around may be Beijing’s observation of reality. In Hong Kong, we find it scarcely believable that China’s leaders can look at this city and detect the terrifying foreign plots, splittism, nightmarish independent judiciary, threatening media and other horrors it seems to see. It helps to remind ourselves that their view of everywhere else is just as warped


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9 Responses to China finds cool way to take everyone’s mind off Olympics failures

  1. Eric Berne says:

    China and the Chinese are too easy to laugh at. That’s the first reaction. When you see how Mainlanders cool off (rolling up their trousers, and T-shirt around the stomach) or how locals always walk on the right, you do have a good laugh. But understandimg takes longer. They are hard to understand at first, then it all falls into place.

    I think you are still at the laughter stage, which is surprising.

    The Chinese love playing games. My GAMES HONG KONG PEOPLE PLAY sold thousands as people suddenly realised what was going on. But everyone plays games. Then you realise that the Chinese aren’t unique at all. And you stop laughing.

  2. Grumbuskin says:

    Yawn – NSA and GCHQ have had qubit encryption for years.

  3. Monkey Reborn says:

    If you want to get your head around quantum physics, do the same thing the physicists did – study ancient texts, including the Dao De Ching (the Tao that can be spoken of is not the true Tao, etc). Mystic traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, Islam, even Christianity also helpful. It’s not hard as long as you are willing to think with your whole being, instead of just the intellect (a la meditation or zazen).

    Interesting thing is the transition from a purely theoretical science to an applied science, in a world where consensus reality remains dominated by materialism. Cool video of a scientific experiment to observe and measure a quantum object (in two places at once:

    As far as unhackable … lol don’t make me laugh. The signal may be impossible to unscramble without the key, but the entire system will of course have weaknesses that can be exploited. A system is only as effective as all its component parts.

  4. reductio says:

    Well, credit where credit is due. Sticking a piece of very delicate equipment on top of a rocket and getting it to work when it has detached and it’s in orbit is still pretty good going. NASA and ESA have been doing it for decades, but hey, impressive. If it does work. My beef is with the content of the article, which has all the hallmarks of a Google mash-up. At one point it states that faster than light communication is possible (“eliminating the twenty minute delay between Mars and Earth”). Incorrect. quantum entanglement allows data to be passed faster than light, but not information. Data on its own is just strings of 0’s and 1’s which have no informational content.

    @ Monkey Reborn

    When I was a kid I read Fritjof Capra’s “The Tao of Physics”. Still can’t decide after all these years whether he was a genius ahead of his time or just a hippie-scientist who’d dropped a little too much LSD. (Maybe he was both until his wife looked).

  5. LRE says:

    “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.” — Richard Feynman

    The SCMP must have written about thirty stories on this breakthrough during the first half of the year: talk about flogging the proverbial Schrödinger’s cat (It’s dead! No it’s not! Yes it is! etc etc into a von Neumann catastrophe).

    I previously commented on one thusly:

    Nothing that can be read by a human is hacker-proof, even if “the signal” can’t be intercepted, the humans involved are always hackable and a security vulnerability.

    The system’s reliance on quantum entanglement means the communication system has a finite amount of data it can transmit before it runs out of pairs of particles, so “destroying” an earth-bound transceiver by heat / magnets / radiation / violence / measurement turns an expensive quantum satellite into useless space junk in short order.

    In other words, whilst it’s “signal” is non-interceptable, it is extremely vulnerable to destructive hacks rendering the whole system useless. See also Key2Audio (the “unhackable” CD DRM that was hacked by the humble felt-tip pen).

    From today’s articles, however, I see that the idea may be to beam up one of the entangled particles to the satellite. Which opens up the possibility of a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack: flood the satellite with photons (paired or unpaired – doesn’t matter) jamming it. Presto! Quanto! Space junk once again.

    The satellite also appears to be currently tasked with just transmitting a key, so the main message is sent conventionally and is exactly as open to interception and decoding as any other encrypted message.

    So there you go — two obvious hacks (depending on the system) from another hack, who doesn’t really understand either cryptography or quantum mechanics.

    It’s still damned cool science, though. I do wonder if the Chinese will get sued by Jack Sarfatti, though: I believe he patented FTL communications using quantum entanglement back in May 1978.

  6. Bonnae says:

    As I said to my hairdresser and BFF Kimmie the other day: “Isn’t our so-called reality just a string of poorly processed, semi-digested and rather random impressions ?”. And then Kimmie said -SO TRUE- that I looked fabulous, and so did he, and there is nothing random about that. So there.

  7. Walter De Havilland says:

    We already have systems that cannot be hacked without considerable effort and time. The problem is not the technology, but the humans. Most so-called hackings are down to laziness in not changing passwords. An audit I was involved found some 20% of staff using the password ‘password.’ Stupidity always wins.

  8. Big Al says:

    Better than having your password “incorrect” because the computer will tell you what your password is if you get it wrong!

  9. LRE says:

    @Walter De Havilland

    It’s not just the end user, either: Accepted practices are also often to blame.
    See xkcd’s splendid jab at password strength.

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