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Inside the Royal Navy ship guided by lasers and a box of atoms

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1] [2]

It was not the trickiest voyage in the Royal Navy's history. XV Patrick Blackett set sail in calm seas in Portsmouth, spent the night off Dover and then, having never left sight of land, finished on a sunny spring day moored by Tower Bridge.

When it got to London, though, what mattered was not that it had completed the journey but that the several million supercooled rubidium atoms in the shipping container sitting on its stern had performed the navigation.

The atoms had "very much exceeded our expectations", said Dr Joseph Cotter from Imperial College, although he was not allowed to expand much further. However, it seems that the Royal Navy's planned quantum navigation system had passed its first — albeit rudimentary — test.

XV Patrick Blackett, a vessel used in experiments, travelled from Portsmouth to the Thames using the new technology



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