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Original author: 
John Timmer

FirasMT

In the past few years, there have been a regular series of announcements about devices that cloak something in space. These typically bend light around the cloak so that it comes out behind the object looking as if it had never shifted at all. In contrast, there's just been a single description of a temporal cloaking device, something that hides an event in time. The device works because in some media different frequencies of light move at different speeds. With the right combination of frequency shifts, it's possible to create and then re-seal a break in a light beam.

But that particular cloak could only create breaks in the light beam that lasted picoseconds. Basically, you couldn't hide all that much using it. Now, researchers have taken the same general approach and used it to hide signals in a beam of light sent through an optical fiber. When the cloak is in operation, the signals largely disappear. In this case the cloak can hide nearly half of the total bandwidth of the light, resulting in a hidden transmission rate of 12.7 Gigabits per second.

The work started with the Talbot effect in mind, in which a diffraction grating causes repeated images of the grating to appear at set distances away from it. The cloaking device relies on the converse of this. At other distances, the light intensity drops to zero. The key trick is to convert the Talbot effect from something that happens in space to something that happens in time.

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Original author: 
Carl Franzen

Quantum-smartcard-qkard-los-alamos_large

It's not quite a quantum internet — yet. But researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico have developed a new, ultra-secure computer network that is capable of transmitting data that has been encrypted by quantum physics, including video files. The network, which currently consists of a main server and three client machines, has been running continuously in Los Alamos for the past two and a half years, the researchers reported in a paper released earlier this month. During that time, they have also successfully tested sending critical information used by power companies on the status of the electrical grid. Eventually they hope to use it to test offline quantum communication capabilities on smartphones and tablets.

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Original author: 
Carl Franzen

Quantum-key-distribution-airplane_large

In a boost to future secret agents and a blow to their would-be eavesdroppers, German researchers report sending the first successful quantum communications from a moving source — an airplane traveling 180 miles-per-hour — to a stationary receiver on the ground. The study was first performed in 2012 but the results were just made public over the weekend in the journal Nature Photonics.

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Aurich Lawson / Thinkstock

Encryption, the transformation of data into a form that prevents anyone unauthorized from understanding that data, is a fundamental technology that enables online commerce, secure communication, and the protection of confidential information.

Encryption algorithms are the mathematical formulae for performing these transformations. You provide an encryption algorithm with a key and the data you want to protect (the plaintext), and it produces an encrypted output (the ciphertext). To read the output, you need to feed the key and the ciphertext into a decryption algorithm (sometimes these are identical to encryption algorithms; other times they are closely related but different).

Encryption algorithms are designed so that performing the decryption process is unfeasibly hard without knowing the key.

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