This Random Number Generator Could Be the Most Random Ever

The ~so random~ experimental setup.
Photo: NIST

Randomness rules the very fabric of reality. So it only makes sense that scientists have figured out how to use nature’s randomness as a tool in our mundane world.

Random numbers go hand-in-hand with encryption and online security. But when is something truly random? There are computer algorithms that strive to generate randomness, but these can often be cracked or reproduced, or require a non-random input. Then there are various random things that happen in the real world that can be relied upon, like the balls used in a lottery drawing. But often times if you really understood the laws of physics, perhaps you’d be able to predict these ball’s behavior. Scientists at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) are planning on using the weirdness of quantum mechanics to create something truly random.

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