Weekly Takeaways-October 31, 2023
Theme of the Week
A Modern Horror Story - Part III Our tradition every Halloween is to present a true-life scary tale: You wake up. Emergency and rescue radios are down. Your location app is offline and planes are grounded worldwide.
You attempt to go shopping, but the credit card isn't working. The ATM is down, too. As the day progresses both cell and internet service is lost, stores and restaurants are closed, and you can't even get gas. By the next morning the power is out. The cause? GPS is down. If this feels like a retread of Halloweens past, it is. The potential collapse of modern society caused a GPS outage was identified 22 years ago, with fears raised over and over since then. And, like Michael Myers, the threats haven't gone away:
Increasing solar activity (see below).
Counter-space weapons that provide plausible deniability, including jamming and laser dazzling, kidnapper satellites that can “seize control of a satellite, “nesting doll” satellites, and other rendezvous satellites.
Not everybody is standing idly by against these threats:
Europe developed Galileo to address concerns that 10% of their GDP relies on a system with “inherent shortcomings which could be compromised by a malicious actor.”
The UK recently announced their Position, Navigation and Timing framework which "includes a crisis plan in the event current PNT services are unavailable."
Other GNSS developments include Russia's GLONASS, Japan's QZSS, and Korea's KASS
Meanwhile, the US is preoccupied with "admiring the problem." Happy Halloween! Last Week's Theme: The Alchemy of Light
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) predicts that the next solar maximum “will be earlier, stronger and last longer than estimates made in 2019.” This is a concern as “geomagnetic storms triggered by plasma outbursts known as coronal mass ejections can affect electrical grids, GPS signals, drag satellites out of orbit and pose a radiation risk to airline workers and astronauts.”
The WSJ also notes that a large solar event could "seriously damage parts of our power-distribution infrastructure," knock out the repeaters in fiber optic cables, and damage satellites.
The US Army has responded to the GPS jamming in Ukraine by initiating a PNT Assessment Experiment to put "emerging and established tech through the wringer." According to the director of the Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing/Space Cross-Functional Team: “Across the board, GPS isn’t the only game in town. You have to have other capabilities to achieve [assured positioning, navigation and timing].”
The future for quantum in space could include satellites with "hyper-sensitive quantum accelerometers, gyroscopes, and clocks, navigating the solar system with unmatched precision....miniaturized quantum sensors, working in unison to image exoplanets, map asteroids, and detect elusive dark matter. Space telescopes harnessing quantum optics to peer back to the very origins of our universe with clarity exponentially beyond present capability...quantum communication channels spanning vast cosmic distances, weaving a web of connectivity between planets and space settlements. Beams of entangled photons enabling teleportation of massive amounts of data across the void. Cryptographic keys distributed via satellite securing our space-based infrastructure from the threat of computational attacks."
The More You Know...
Entanglement is Spookier than you Think Everybody knows Einstein's famous quote calling entanglement "spooky action at a distance." It registered his disbelief at the apparent "non-local" action of entanglement. Einstein favored the idea that hidden "local variables" are at work instead of these non-local effects. But clever experiments based on the work of John Stewart Bell seems to prove otherwise. Now known as the Bell inequality, it seems to prove that local hidden variable theory is incorrect, or at least incomplete. But even spookier yet is the Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser - the crazy experiment that seems to show that future events can impact the past. It starts with the famous double-slit experiment first performed in 1801. When light is shown through a double slit, an interference pattern emerges on the other side, suggesting that light acts as a wave. But then Einstein came along in 1905 and found that light is made up of discrete energy packets - photons. A few decades later we could recreate the double-slit experiment with individuals photons. And this is where things got truly spooky. When you fire a bunch of photons through a double-slit, you get the same interference pattern. No surprise there, as Thomas Young showed in 1801. If you fire them one by one, instead of en masse, you can see them land on the other side. But keep firing more in sequence and the familiar interference pattern emerges. Huh? What are they interfering with? Wait - it gets even stranger! Then scientists found a way to detect which slit the individual photons went through. When they did this, the interference pattern disappeared - instead the photons went to one side or the other, depending on which slit it went through. Just the act of detecting which path it went down eliminated the interference pattern. Hold on - it gets even more strange! In a very clever set of experiments called the Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser, scientists figured out a way to detect, using pairs of entangled photons, which path a photon took through a slit well after the partner photon hits the wall. And the interference pattern, or lack of it, matched whether the photon path was unknown or known. It was as though the future event (detect or not detect) was predicted by the pattern shown in the past! How? Why? If you can figure that out, "there is a Nobel Prize waiting for you." To learn more, please email us or schedule a meeting here.