The Quantum Telegraph

Space doesn't count and the words don't matter...

The operator read the message, and then read it again.
"-Enemy in systpm-
-Preptre 4 attsck-"

Puzzled, he looked up from the screen, raised his hand and shouted, "Admiral Thrace."
Miranda turned and her face hardened as she walked to the operator's side. She bent over to read the message, then straightened up, reaching for a microphone to broadcast across the ship. The moment she spoke, the entire room fell silent, "Alert. We've received a message. Enemy in the system. Prepare for attack."

The operator looked up, his eyes wide, as Miranda placed the mic down. "Admiral, it could be a false flag."
Miranda pointed to the comms technician on the other side of the room. "I want every ship ready to go, now." She turned her attention back to the operator, " I don't think it is. We could end the war right here. These next few hours will be critical. Notify Unity."
One of humanity's few advantages, The Quantum Telegraph, is a form of faster-than-light communication. It laughs in the face of our understanding of science, bypassing physics with soft measured particles. It's not the best method, but it's saved humanity from complete destruction several times over. It's given us a reputation, if our allies are to be believed.   The quantum telegraph is remarkably simple. It takes no more than two quantum chips, each entangled with the other. These chips are designed with communication in mind. Each chip serves as an address for the recipient of a message. Every computer must have a matching chip to send and receive messages. This necessitates constant updates. New chips must be provided for every quantum address when created, which is where the downsides start to add up.   When a message needs to be sent, the computer takes soft measurements of the necessary particles, using clockwise and counterclockwise spin as a stand-in for binary code, one meaning 1 and another meaning 0. These measurements repeat until the desired measurements are found. They are then "locked in" a process involving internal mechanisms of the computer that prevents the superposition from changing the measurements. The recipient takes soft measurements of their corresponding chips every two minutes, and interprets the results. If words are interpreted, a message is flagged and shown to the user.

Pros and cons

There are some serious benefits to this technology, but also some serious drawbacks.


  • Instant communication: Regardless of time or distance, one can send a message that will instantly be received when the particles are measured.

  • Reliable, to a degree: Large sums of data can be transferred so long as it can be created in the span of two minutes. This data is fairly easy to interpret even if some of the words are incorrect or missing.


  • Limited Length:Message length should be as short as possible. The longer it is, the longer it takes to construct the message. And it's possible that even the shortest message won't send due to probability surrounding quantum states.

  • Time Sensitive: If the two-minute interval passes before the message is properly constructed, the message must be rebuilt from the beginning, as it won't be sent in its entirety. While this isn't always a problem, crucial parts of a message may be missing when received.

  • Resources: The chips are hard to produce and every computer will need chips of their own, along with transmission and reception chips for every other quantum address. This makes upkeep a tedious game of record keeping to know which computers can communicate with others, and move to rectify when possible.

  • Prone to Error: Flagged messages occur when a measurement COULD contain a message. The nature of probability makes it where words can easily be found and sometimes messages can be interpreted that don't actually say anything. There's also a small chance a message will say something, but have incorrect spelling, swapped letters, and sometimes saying something that is not meant to be said at all.

  • Superposition Collapse: Sometimes, superpositions in quantum particles will collapse regardless of the soft measurements. This ruins their entangled state and makes them impossible to use. The computers can detect this, but it means the chips require upkeep and routine repairs.


You can't send voice or video recordings, nor can you send complex layouts of data. The only form a message can take is text. Furthermore, these messages depend on the language of the sender, and their ability to spell correctly. It's crucial for every operator and computer to speak the same language, or messages will not be flagged. Even if flagged, the operator needs to be able to read it.     There are currently 48 quantum computers capable of communicating with each other. This means there are 2304 chips needed to keep the network operating properly. With every new addition, the number grows exponentially, and it can take significant amounts of time to outfit every computer.   Most of these computers are on Persephone class frigates, ships operated by Wayfarers used to explore the outer reaches of the galaxy. This problem is helped by creating these chips beforehand. Outfitting new ships with chips others were preemptively equipped with prevents having to recall the wayfarers for upgrades.
Miranda gripped her mug so hard her knuckles went white. In the hours that passed, the entire fleet mobilized. Now they waited, hoping to counter the element of surprise with a surprise of their own. The plan was simple, but easy to mess up. They had less than ten minutes before the enemy would be upon them. The Sillue fleet used warp tech, and if it was anything like what Miranda saw before, their shields would be down when they reached firing distance. She only needed to fire the missiles before the fleet arrived.
Miranda gave the word, "launch all missiles."
She heard the silos open, echoing off the metal hull. She heard the missiles fire, and watched the screen as they flew along predetermined paths. Minutes went by. The missiles flew for miles. The entire crew waited, everyone on edge as they watched for confirmation.
Miranda's eyes narrowed as a massive fleet, dozens of ships, appeared on the radar. She then smiled as they disappeared, one by one.

Cover image: by Michael Dziedzic


Author's Notes

Some notes I used for research.

Please Login in order to comment!
30 Nov, 2020 21:24

Of course, humans are the ones to surpass light's velocity. GOTTA GO FAST! Lovely and amazing article, dy!

Visit Daeliha, Eonilline & Iphars
Love to code, but this one is driving me crazy!
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
30 Nov, 2020 21:28

Thanks so much Cato!

1 Dec, 2020 00:44

Ooh. Interesting idea. There are a whole bunch of "typos" that I think are probably that, but could be intentional. You never know.   "Enemy in systprm-
Preptre 4 attsck-"
Pretty Sure that neither of those words are meant to be quite that butchered. (Further on down in the article, it seems like this is intentional. However, I would say that all logic would state falsified typos should be minor errors in alphabetic error as no system of quantified technology would be based on proximity on the standardized English keyboard)   "Wever received a message"
Probably meant to be "we've".   "is a form of faster than light communication."
Slight problem here. There are two ways this can be stated: "is a form of faster-than-light communication." or "is a form of communication exceeding the speed of light".   Your second paragraph gets a bit repetitive in sentence structure, but your third one fixes it. It's probably just a habit as you are writing fast. Additionally, I'd love to see some scientific references for everything you're doing. Even though most of this would be a highly advanced application of theory practiced in physics, you should probably have sources.   Overall, a really interesting article and a great way to start off your World Ember! I'm excited to keep up with your rapid speed writing!

Give me a visit at my current project(s): Aesontis
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
1 Dec, 2020 00:58

Yupppp got this one out fast. Oooo that's a good idea. Adding sources is definitely worth the effort. In this case, sadly this would be impossible. It's why I name drip the no communication theorem. It's the only reason its impossible that I can find. I'll get those sources out too and add them to the author's notes. Thanks so much man. More coming soon.

1 Dec, 2020 02:08

I'd also suggest having an exhaustive resource of anything and everything you've referenced, not only for those interesting in learning more but for yourself when you come back and think "was this right?" It's also helpful because then I know what is theoretic science versus what is fictitious theorem applied within your world.

Give me a visit at my current project(s): Aesontis
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
1 Dec, 2020 04:02

Woahhhh... that's actually weird. Real world blindness... this is trippy. Yes definitely, I agree. It didn't even occur to me that the no communication theorem would be confused. If. Well done

24 Dec, 2020 04:58

Yay! Sources have been included now! Also, totally send me a message in Discord or something if there's a particular article that you updated a lot and feel I should take a look at.

Give me a visit at my current project(s): Aesontis
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
24 Dec, 2020 08:55

I'll do that. With most tof them its minor changes. I'l be sure to let you know when a major one shows up. Thank you!

1 Dec, 2020 05:39

You could probably mitigate the problem with having to put ridiculous numbers of chips the more ships you make. maybe just have one ship stationed in each system with chips linking to adjacent systems. when you want to transmit further, relay the message through your more nearby allies.   Of course, multiple transmissions may increase the chance that any given message will be garbled beyond recognition. maybe run it through a spellcheck before sending it on?   this reminds me of this video I once watched: it pretty much deals with the same conundrums you'd get using this technology, and the best way is just to trust your technology, even though there's a good chance that the message will not be received.   I guess the best way to get a message across would be to spam someone's inbox so they could surmise the most repeated characters are correct.   Also, firing missiles before the enemy fleet arrives and hitting them just as they do must be incredibly satisfying to pull off.

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
1 Dec, 2020 05:56

ahhh, the two generals. I LOVE THIS PROBLEM lol, the major difference here is that rarely is there any confirmation sent back. you send it and hope XD It does lay out some issues. I chose this tech because the downsides really intrigued me.   A major problem with the mitigation is humanity only has one system. The other computers are for explorers, mainly. The garbled messages occur due to collapse of superposition, or misreading the measurements. Standard communication is still used within one system. This wouldnt work if every cell phone needed one XD I wanted to give humans one good thing, then Nerf it to the ground without ruining its effectiveness. i never thought about repeating a message.

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
1 Dec, 2020 21:31

This is fascinating. I really like the idea. It also seems like the birth of a new technology, like it could get much better in the future as people continue to work on it.

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
Sage Rynn19
Wendy Vlemings (Rynn19)
3 Dec, 2020 14:12

Great article! The quotes are a wonderful way to get emotionally involved in the importance of the technology.

Sage Timepool
Garrett Lewis
4 Dec, 2020 04:35

A real creative method of communication! Nice!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
4 Dec, 2020 22:10

Why thank ya!

24 Dec, 2020 15:38

Great article! I like how you use the prose at the start to give the reader an example of just how the technology works in practice. I also enjoyed the links to the research that you did. Thank you for including these!

Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
27 Dec, 2020 21:17

Absolutely! I love the idea and the research was such fun. Thanks for the love. I'm glad you enjoyed it

1 Jan, 2021 01:14

The last story section gave me the shivers!

Author of the upcoming book Rise: Liminal Chronicles |
Powered by World Anvil