Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have
developed a method for generating numbers guaranteed to be random by
quantum mechanics. Described in the April 12 issue of Nature,
the experimental technique surpasses all previous methods for ensuring
the unpredictability of its random numbers and may enhance security and
trust in cryptographic systems.
The new NIST method generates digital
bits (1s and 0s) with photons, or particles of light, using data
generated in an improved version of a landmark 2015 NIST physics experiment. That experiment showed conclusively that what Einstein derided as "spooky action at a distance" is real. In the new work, researchers process the spooky output to certify and quantify the randomness available in the data and generate a string of much more random bits.
Random numbers are used hundreds of
billions of times a day to encrypt data in electronic networks. But
these numbers are not certifiably random in an absolute sense. That's
because they are generated by software formulas or physical devices
whose supposedly random output could be undermined by factors such as
predictable sources of noise. Running statistical tests can help,but no
statistical test on the output alone can absolutely guarantee that the
output was unpredictable, especially if an adversary has tampered with
Note: I still think that true, 'absolute' randomness is impossible. I do see the importance of apparent full randomness via quantum mechanics.