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This might be a rare case about which Einstein was wrong. More than 60 years ago, the great physicist scoffed at the idea that anything could travel faster than light, even though quantum mechanics had suggested such a condition. Now four Swiss researchers have brought the possibility closer to reality. Testing a concept called "spooky action at a distance"--a phrase used by Einstein in criticizing the phenomenon--they have shown that two subatomic particles can communicate nearly instantaneously, even if they are separated by cosmic distances.
Physicist Nicolas Gisin and colleagues at the University of Geneva in Switzerland split off pairs of quantum-entangled photons and sent them from the university's campus through two fiber-optic cables to two Swiss villages located 18 kilometers apart. Thinking of the photons like traffic lights, each passed through specially designed detectors that determined what "color" they were when entering the cable and what color they appeared to be when they reached the terminus. The experiments revealed two things: First, the physical properties of the photons changed identically during their journey, just as predicted by quantum theory--when one turned "red," so did the other. Second, there was no detectable time difference between when those changes occurred in the photons, as though an imaginary traffic controller had signaled them both.