In our December issue (on newsstands now), we finger Phil Zimmerman, the inventor of the encryption program PGP, as one of our "35 Heroes of Freedom." We wrote: "By inventing and distributing Pretty Good Privacy, a free, easy, and damn-nigh uncrackable e-mail encryption program, [Zimmerman] gave dissidents everywhere the ability to communicate without fear--all while challenging his own government's attempt to control that ability. He's living proof that a single individual with a good idea can make a huge difference."

Now comes news reports of the next great (or more precisely, quantum) leap forward in enryption technology:

After 20 years of research, an encryption process is emerging that is considered unbreakable because it employs the mind-blowing laws of quantum physics.

This month, a small startup called MagiQ Technologies Inc. began selling what appears to be the first commercially available system that uses individual photons to transfer the numeric keys that are widely used to encode and read secret documents.

Photons, discrete particles of energy, are so sensitive that if anyone tries to spy on their travel from one point to another, their behavior will change, tipping off the sender and recipient and invalidating the stolen code.

"There are really no ways (of) cracking this code," said Lov Grover, a quantum computing researcher at Bell Laboratories who is not involved with MagiQ.

Whole story here.