U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology researchers have applied quantum mechanics to develop a new method for generating random numbers to help shield sensitive information from eavesdropping.
The technique uses a laser to produce entangled photon pairs, then measures the state of each paired photon and compares them, enabling the researchers to prove they were observing quantum-mechanically-generated 1s and 0s.
This is because the states are quantified far enough apart that even the speed of light would be too slow to coordinate the photons in each pair, so the data could not have been generated via routine physics.
However, since the photons as originally generated were not equally likely to be 1s or 0s, a second phase of the process extracted a random subset, whose probablity of being either 1 or 0 was guaranteed to be balanced to within 1 trillionth of 1%.
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