Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press
"Quantum Confidential", by Simon Singh. New Scientist, 2 October 1999, pages 28-33.
"It could happen in a few months or a few years," writes Singh. "But sooner or later, a mathematician could make a discovery that jeopardises international security, threatens the future of Internet commerce, and imperils the privacy of e-mails." How so? Most codes that protect electronic information rely on the difficulty of factoring large numbers. If someone finds a way around that difficulty, the codes cease to provide any protection. As a result, many researchers are exploring the feasibility of using quantum mechanics to shroud information in secrecy. The technical challenges are formidable, but, as Singh explains in the article, they are now being overcome.
--- Allyn Jackson