May 16, 2017 (Phys.org) -- Stars, quasars, and other celestial objects generate photons in a random way, and now scientists have taken advantage of this randomness to generate random numbers at rates of more than one million numbers per second. Generating random numbers at very high rates has a variety of applications, such as in cryptography and computer simulations.
But the researchers in the new study are also interested in using these cosmic random number generators for another purpose: to test the foundations of physics by progressively addressing another loophole in the Bell tests. While Bell tests show that quantum particles are correlated in ways that cannot be explained by classical physics, the results may not be reliable if parts of these tests manage to take advantage of any kind of loophole.
The researchers, led by Jian-Wei Pan, at the University of Science and Technology of China in Shanghai, have published a paper on using cosmic sources to generate random numbers in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.