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Teleportation — Fact and Fiction 348

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the there-and-back-again dept.
jcatcw writes "Earlier this week actor Hayden Christensen, of Star Wars fame, and director Doug Liman discussed teleportation with MIT professors to compare the reality to the special effects version in the upcoming movie, Jumper. Edward Farhi, director of the Center for Theoretical Physics at MIT, said, 'It's a little less exotic than what you see in the movie. Teleportation has been done, moving a single proton over two miles. [But] teleporting a person? That is pretty far down the line. The quantum state of a living creature is pretty formidable. That is just not in the foreseeable future.'"
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Teleportation — Fact and Fiction

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2008 @09:28PM (#22103810)
    Obviously this guy didn't read enough Star Trek technical manuals.
  • Death and Rebirth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sangui (1128165) on Friday January 18, 2008 @09:28PM (#22103812) Journal
    Whenever I see discussion about teleportation discussed, I think about Ilium and how in reality when they were teleporting, they were being killed and brought back to life at the other end, they were never the same person, made of the same atoms, just an exact copy.
    • Re:Death and Rebirth (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tangent128 (1112197) on Friday January 18, 2008 @09:40PM (#22103920)
      Good (if creepy) exploration here: To Be [youtube.com].
    • by khallow (566160)
      Sounds like one of the weaker Dan Simmons novels. After all, we don't stay the same person. Most of our matter gets flushed out over a few years (as I understand it). And it's obvious that we change substantially over the years in other ways. I still teleportation as less of a change than living ten years.
      • Re:Death and Rebirth (Score:4, Interesting)

        by v1 (525388) on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:26PM (#22104316) Homepage Journal
        The part that would worry me is the consciousness. Brings up questions like what happens when you die. Does your consciousness cease to exist? probably. So if they replicate you to teleport you, haven't they created a new (but identical at that moment) copy, and then destroy your consciousness? Would your new copy of your consciousness know anything had happened? unlikely.

        If sometime in the future teleportation becomes possible, eventually everyone will be using it. By the time a child is old enough to ponder the above, they will have been teleported hundreds of times. At which point either you don't care anymore, or you don't believe your consciousness is destroyed by the teleportation. (since it would not be evident to the latest copy of you) Then you start getting into weirder things, like if someone teleports you, who has never been teleported before, against your will, could they be charged with murder? It's kinda absurd to think your consciousness somehow transfers with the teleportation.

        I think this would escalate to a whole new level if you teleported someone and failed to erase the original, and the two got together and were told to argue it out who needs to live and who needs to die. They'd both have the same conscious train of thought and would probably both want to live and would both believe they were "the real one" etc.
        • Re:Death and Rebirth (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ScrewMaster (602015) on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:45PM (#22104476)
          I think this would escalate to a whole new level if you teleported someone and failed to erase the original, and the two got together and were told to argue it out who needs to live and who needs to die. They'd both have the same conscious train of thought and would probably both want to live and would both believe they were "the real one" etc.

          There was an episode of ST:TNG which dealt with that idea, when a transporter beam was deflected by the oddball atmospherics of a hostile planet and the Riker who was beaming up got doubled ... one made it back to the ship, the other ended up trapped on an abandoned research base for ten years until he was rescued by Enterprise. The one that got out was the one that we all came to know, and the dupe started out identical but evolved emotionally in a different way. It was kind of a cool episode, actually.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Domstersch (737775)

          It's kinda absurd to think your consciousness somehow transfers with the teleportation.

          No, it's absurd to think that it doesn't, unless you're a dualist [wikipedia.org]. In which case you're beyond help anyway.

        • by novakyu (636495)

          I think this would escalate to a whole new level if you teleported someone and failed to erase the original, and the two got together and were told to argue it out who needs to live and who needs to die. They'd both have the same conscious train of thought and would probably both want to live and would both believe they were "the real one" etc.

          In the world of fiction, anything can happen, and except for a few extraordinary cases, it quite doesn't matter here in the real world.

          In the real world, you can rest assured, that as far as we know, the "transportation" process destroys the original quantum state (No cloning theorem [wikipedia.org]), so it is not possible to "fail to erase the original"—because existence of the original would mean that you made an "imperfect copy" of what you were trying to transport, and in this case, it's fairly clear which one n

      • by Oswald (235719)
        Actually, it sounds like a pretty solid novel by Algis Budrys called Rogue Moon [wikipedia.org]. Of course, the theme has been done many times, but I remember this one had an impact when I read it in college. I never see Budrys's name any more (his Google number is less than a tenth of Ellison's, about one fifteenth of Silverberg's), but he's a good writer.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2008 @09:59PM (#22104086)
      But does that really matter? Your atoms are being replaced all the time, just small bits at a time. Scanning and sending data, instead of the actual matter or energy, seems much more plausible. You aren't your atoms, you are the information that your current atomic configuration describes. Have any scars? That scar likely doesn't have a single atom that it did at the time of your injury. It's been copied, bit by bit, atom by atom, over and over again. Teleportation differs only in that it does a whole lot of atom swapping all at once. If the information is beamed correctly, "you" will "arrive" properly.

      Normal notions of being, self, life and death don't really apply, at least, most of what people think of doesn't apply and if you break it down, it usually comes down to religious questions, like the soul. If you believe that your body requires a supernatural soul to animate it with intelligence and desires, than teleporation likely isn't for you. If you believe that you are essentially a matrix of interacting atoms, a materialist in other words, than it shouldn't bother you.
      • If you could be perfectly scanned (in a destructive manner, to be sure), but with 100% confidence that one or more duplicates of you could be created, right down to the last thought you had before your were scanned, would you do it?

        To be transported light-year distances? Just for a "backup"?

        It would really mean nothing to "you", but would be the check-point backup for your future self.

        "For Bob so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Body, that whoever replicates Him shall not perish, but ha

        • No, one of the problems is how would you know that you retain your consciousness once you reach the other end? If a copy was successfully made the answer would obviously be "yes," but who would be responding to that question? It would be impossible to know since the entities before and after teleportation are both conscious and self aware but is the copied entity really the same as the original (that is the original still conscious?) No one knows how people's consciousness actually works; as far as everyone
      • by Oswald (235719)
        I'm a materialist, and I would never volunteer to be copied by any destructive process. I would be dead. My survival instinct prevents me from permitting this. Some other guy with my memories and delusions that he is me would be alive in my place.

        The fact that the person typing this is a guy with delusions that he is the same person who signed up for this Slashdot account when acct numbers were in the 200,000's--I admit that this is the case--is no consolation at all.

        • by TexVex (669445)

          I'm a materialist, and I would never volunteer to be copied by any destructive process. I would be dead.

          To me, Quantum No Cloning and the Teleportation phenomenon makes this philosophically interesting. Suppose that consciousness or soul is some actual thing, tied up in the quantum processes taking place in and between our neurons; that our selves are part of the continuous interactions and entanglements going on in our brains.

          No Cloning and Teleportation would mean that I couldn't really be copied, bu

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Lije Baley (88936)
            Here's a potentially related observation:
            Let us assume there is nothing "mysterious" about consciousness, that the technology exists to scan and recreate biological structures exactly, down to the molecular level, and also that a means exists to "freeze" or otherwise suspend a person's biological processes without damage.

            There is a room with two operating tables, let's say one with a blue light overhead and one with a red light overhead. You are brought into the room and placed on the table under the blue
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 4D6963 (933028)

        Does it matter that you "die"?

        Well yeah, because you actually die. What do you think, that because some machine created a carbon copy of you you'll be somehow magically linked to it? No, that's if as you grew a twin/clone and then killed yourself. You die, you're getting killed, the way you chose, and life goes on for your copy, who is a copy of you, but not you.

        And actually you don't actually have to get killed when you get teleported, you're "telecopied", you're only killed for the sake of not spamming

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Artraze (600366)
      While the concept of replication as a method of teleportation is interesting philosophically, it doesn't really solve the major issue:

      > The quantum state of a living creature is pretty formidable.

      That's really the difficulty: reading and writing all the states of all the atoms/particles with enough accuracy to keep something alive is quite likely impossible. I would say the best (most likely possible) method of teleportation would be more like warping space so that something ends up in a different locat
      • I will venture to say the governments would be all to happy to have precision site-to-SOME/ANY-site lock-on capability. They'd rather snatch and destroy living targets than spend the effort to insert humans to do the snatching. Why lose expendable assets (human, allied/aligned soldiers) when taking out the enemy (or enema) means only needing to lock on and scramble?

        With a weaponization of such quantum technology, simple bombs or surveillance devices could also be inserted, with quantum self-destruct structu
        • by davidsyes (765062) *
          Oh, I forgot: In Star Trek the tractor beams and deflector grids have been used to entrap or destabilize targets, but the crew never used them in a Dr. Evil or maniacal, gleeful way...
        • by ArcherB (796902) * on Friday January 18, 2008 @11:36PM (#22104822) Journal
          I've always wondered about the same thing. Rather than beam in a team of commandos down to the surface to kill a bunch of guys, why not just teleport the bad guys off the starboard bow?

          My other thoughts:
          Using it as a cloning/copy tool, (which was done in a few episodes). "Counselor, why don't you go down to the teleporter and copy yourself so we can have a threesome?" or "Scotty! I need you to copy these 20g bars of latinum for me. I need to go back to the surface and tip one of those green strippers."
          Using the teleport as a backup tool. "The captain is dead again. What is the latest tape backup? Do we have one backed up BEFORE he became such a bitch?"
          Medicine. Why use a scalpel to remove a liver when you can just beam it out? Why do they still have disease when they can just beam everything BUT the virus back to the ship?

          Yeah, we spend too much time pondering things like Star Trek. Then again, I guess that's what made it such a great show; it makes you THINK!

        • by Zugok (17194)

          Imagine this as the perfect bomb: taking OUT or comproMISING structural members of any building, fortification, dam, tower, transmission/reception site, etc. If used on skyscrapers, the toll worldwide would be, well, ummm, "mind-bending". Who the hell would want to go to work in Chrysler Building, or Petronas or Taipei 101 KNOWING that whole floors are collapsing in for no outward (visible/believable) reason. Oh, the reason would definitely be from outside (assuming the teleporter is not transported into th

    • by BootNinja (743040)
      But you see, every cell in your body is replaced every seven years, so you aren't that exact set of cells. I find it far more feasible to say that what I am is a specific configuration of cells with specific quantum signatures. Therefore if the copy that is created on the far end of the transport has an identical quantum signature to the original you could say that the copy has an identity with the original.
      • by Dahamma (304068)
        But you see, every cell in your body is replaced every seven years, so you aren't that exact set of cells.

        Poetic, but inaccurate. With a few exceptions, almost all nerve cells do not get replaced over your entire lifespan. And in the end, those are the cells that define your personality, which is what you would call an "identity".

        I actually agree with the idea that if one could replicate the exact quantum state of every particle in your body, then there is no difference from the original. But everything
        • by rk (6314)
          What about the component molecules of nerve cells? The cells still metabolize, don't they?
    • If the only thing which distinguishes one particle or system from the next is its state, then identical states cannot be considered separate or different.

      Teleportation does not seem to be about matter but about state. I feel this may be thought-evidence for consciousness continuity or some kind of existence fidelity (if one considers consciousness as something describable by quantum physics).

      One day perhaps teleportation will be viewed as we see flight today: simple fundamentals and devilish engineering.
    • by deanoaz (843940)
      I've always thought, from the first time I saw it on Star Trek or read about it in a Sci-Fi story, that teleportation is obviously a quick painless death followed by replacement of you with a new synthetic person who thinks they are you. I'll pass.
      • I've always thought, from the first time I saw it on Star Trek or read about it in a Sci-Fi story, that teleportation is obviously a quick painless death followed by replacement of you with a new synthetic person who thinks they are you. I'll pass.

        Star Trek is explicitly not this, it's an analog process - your body 'energy blob' is really moved. This allows Star Trek to skirt many moral and ethical questions so they can get on with the Space Western.
    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      Are you made of the same atoms from one instant to another?

      How would you test it?

    • So basically what they're doing is send a FAX of the particles at one end to the other? And since the person on one end "dies" in order to send their particles to the other end, this is basically a Snuff FAX?
    • by LoudMusic (199347) *

      Whenever I see discussion about teleportation discussed, I think about Ilium and how in reality when they were teleporting, they were being killed and brought back to life at the other end, they were never the same person, made of the same atoms, just an exact copy.
      Begs the question, "What IS life?" doesn't it?
    • Whenever I see discussion about teleportation discussed, I think about Ilium and how in reality when they were teleporting, they were being killed and brought back to life at the other end, they were never the same person, made of the same atoms, just an exact copy.

      Hmm, a 2003 book. Sounds alot like the premise of Think Like a Dinosaur [wikipedia.org] (1995).
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Friday January 18, 2008 @09:29PM (#22103816) Homepage Journal
    ...I actually dreamed about teleportation theory a few weeks ago. That's odd that this comes up.

    I woke up to thinking about it. If you teleport a la Star Trek, you're probably going to die just because pieces of your organs are seperated. Maybe if you could be placed in a true time-temporal state, it might work in chunks.

    I'd guess the best way to teleport would be to map your atomic structure, and use some sort of carbon/hydrogen/oxygen builder to rebuild you piece by piece exactly using the atoms at the other end. Impossible today, yes. Probably a bit too scary for things living.

    The thoughts moved to faster-than-light travel, and the same problems came up. If you could accelerate to "warp speed", would all your atoms accelerate at the same time or would you be stretched to oblivion?
    • Maybe if you could be placed in a true time-temporal state

      Even if that were possible, think about what it would require. You'd have to record the state and location of every elementary particle in your body, then transmit that information somewhere, and reassemble your body, atom by atom. If you do the numbers, making the very generous assumption that the computer responsible for the process requires one cycle per particle, you'll find there haven't been enough computer cycles in the entire history of compu
      • At least we're pretty sure wormholes exist and we know how to use them, once we can make one big enough: just step through.

        The wormholes we think exist are too small to carry much in the way of matter. Possibly some photons.
      • If you do the numbers, making the very generous assumption that the computer responsible for the process requires one cycle per particle, you'll find there haven't been enough computer cycles in the entire history of computers to transmit a single person.

        To be fair, I'd expect that by the Star Trek era somebody will have learned how to write a decent parallel program [wikipedia.org].

    • I woke up to thinking about it. If you teleport a la Star Trek, you're probably going to die just because pieces of your organs are seperated. Maybe if you could be placed in a true time-temporal state, it might work in chunks.

      Yeah, if you're confining the problem to Star Trek, that's how it works - time is supposed to be frozen for the transportee. See how Scotty was preserved in transporter ring buffers for 70 years or whatever without aging. The magic sauce of the transporter technology is instantaneou
  • by handelaar (65505) on Friday January 18, 2008 @09:29PM (#22103820)
    "Next week, we'll be discussing the differences between general and special relativity with Big Bird from Sesame Street."
  • Distance? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by calebt3 (1098475)
    How much does distance affect this? Is two miles near the theoretical limit something can be teleported before degradation sets in? Or is that just how far the scientists have bothered to try at this point?
    • Teleportation Fraud (Score:5, Informative)

      by camperdave (969942) on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:06PM (#22104150) Journal
      Science hasn't teleported squat. They've just caused one particle to mimic the quantum state of another. The number of particles at the source hasn't changed. The number of particles at the destination hasn't changed. So in what way was anything "teleported"?
      • by AsnFkr (545033) on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:16PM (#22104232) Homepage Journal
        Sounds more like they sent a fax.
        • by davidsyes (765062) *
          LOOKS like they sent a fax. Just the facts, ma'am...

          But seriously, with a fax, there's a communications line that can be disrupted. Can a quantum teleportation "instruction" to "state-mimic" be disrupted? (I don't know, and that's why I'm asking")...
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        So basically if they were able to do the same thing with people, they would just be creating and exact duplicate of the person. Now that could be useful.
      • by Adambomb (118938)
        Now, 0 time to target communication of information WOULD be interesting. Do you have any sources concerning the quanntum state teleportation that mention if there was a time lapse at all?

        Certainly not teleporting matter in the any sense, but that would still be more than squat.
        • by Cordath (581672) on Friday January 18, 2008 @11:54PM (#22104974)
          Here's an extremely simplified version of how Quantum Teleportation works. This model *will* break down if you push it too far, but it's a better model of the real physics than a Star Trek transporter.

          1. Go out and buy two identical rubik's cubes.
          2. Put them into identical configurations.
          3. Send one to the other side of the planet.
          4. Now, create any new configuration you want, but record the steps you take. (e.g. Rotate top 90 degrees left, etc.)
          5. A person on the other side of the planet with the other cube can now recreate your cube precisely if you call them up and tell them the steps you took.

          In quantum-land, there are some rather huge differences, which I'll talk about in a moment. However, the crucial thing to get out of this necessarily imperfect macroscopic example is that this kind of teleportation relies on preparing identical rubik's cubes in advance, classically transporting one of them to the receiver, and communicating via classical channels when actually performing the teleportation. At NO point can information travel faster than light (FTL). i.e. Quantum teleportation does *not* break causality. However, you will note that you can, potentially, communicate a very complex rubik's cube configuration with a very small ammount of classical data, provided you choose your initial state and operations intelligently.

          The reality of Quantum Land (This will most likely confuse you. For that, I apologize.)

          The pair of identically configured rubik's cubes are meant to be an analogy for an entangled pair, which is the most crucial thing to have in any quantum teleportation scheme. (You can make entangled pairs out of many things, such as photons or electrons. However, these things are typically tiny and simple. Complex Atoms, molecules, etc. don't work so well.) Where the analogy breaks down is entanglement, which is something we just don't see in macroscopic objects. The key idea behind entanglement is that you can place two things into a state that is not separable (i.e. You cannot describe one things state without also describing the other simultaneously), and any operation on one of them will have an effect on the other no matter how far separated the two things are. (NOTE: This does NOT allow FTL communication.) The problem is that quantum operations on entangled states are probabilistic rather than deterministic. If the sender performs operations, measurements really, on her half of the entangled pair and a new particle that is to be teleported, the receiver needs the results of those measurements to do anything useful, such as reconstruct the particle the sender had. Those results *must* be communicated from the sender to the receiver via classical channels.

          Another big thing to note about quantum teleportation is that it, currently, is applied to indistinguishable particles. When you copy a rubik's cube, the copy is made up of complex molecules in a configuration that is unique. If you can magically examine the structure of any two real world rubik's cube you can tell them apart. They are distinguishable. A pair of photons in the same state, on the other hand, are indistinguishable. When you perform quantum teleportation, the copy that comes out at the sender's end is an absolutely perfect copy of the original because it has the exact state of the original and the particles themselves are not distinguishable. The state of the original, however, is changed when it is measured in the teleportation process, and there's no way to recover it. Effectively, the original is destroyed and a perfect copy comes out at the other end.

          So there you have it. Quantum teleportation isn't really like a Star Trek transporter at all. It actually a lot stranger than that, and much more difficult to grok. (especially the entanglment part) Again, I apologize for not being able to come up with a way to explain entanglement without throwing a lot of math at you. (I'm not sure you can really understand it without the math.)
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Science hasn't teleported squat. They've just caused one particle to mimic the quantum state of another. The number of particles at the source hasn't changed. The number of particles at the destination hasn't changed. So in what way was anything "teleported"?

        The "teleported" part is in that the particles were entangled. So, while they didn't actually move the particle, they "teleported" the properties of one atom onto another at a distance. It's the same as teleportation in that sense, but there are things we call conservation laws that prevent what you're talking about with literally teleporting matter as in moving it somewhere else instantly without it crossing the space between (or falling into a wormhole).

      • How can you possibly say that something was not transported? Before the experiment there's a proton in state A at location X. Afterwards there's a proton in state A at location Y. Given that all protons are absolutely identical apart from their state, and that the state was reproduced at Y, how can this under any circumstances whatsoever be considered as anything other than teleportation? What else could the word teleportation mean? That's not meant rhetorically. I want to know what you actually think the w
      • by novakyu (636495)

        Science hasn't teleported squat. They've just caused one particle to mimic the quantum state of another. The number of particles at the source hasn't changed. The number of particles at the destination hasn't changed. So in what way was anything "teleported"?

        In those experiments, you have to realize that all protons are identical. This may not be the intuitive way to look at it, but you can look at those entanglement experiments in this way: You have one proton at point A, in state X. You have another proton at point B, in state Y. After a given amount of time, you have a proton at point B, in state X, and you have a proton at point A, in state Z (Z may be equal to Y, but frankly, I don't know enough about these experiments to say whether the quantum state of

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Earlier this week "actor" Hayden Christensen...
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Friday January 18, 2008 @09:34PM (#22103870)
    The Star Trek method never made any sense, chopping up a living organism and beaming it defies even scifi logic. It makes more sense to just say it's a wormhole between here and there.
    • by Quarters (18322) on Friday January 18, 2008 @09:40PM (#22103924)
      The Star Trek method makes perfect sense. Roddenberry & Co. didn't have the budget for establishing shots with shuttle craft and planetary atmospheric flight. They needed something that would be cheap to produce, not eat up lots of show time, and would have a good "wow" factor.
    • by mblase (200735)
      The "Next Generation" Star Trek folks knew this, and covered it appropriately. Well, sort of. Read about it under Heisenberg compensators [wikipedia.org] if you like.

      Remember, folks, when dealing with science fiction, the operative word is always "fiction".
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Friday January 18, 2008 @09:36PM (#22103896) Homepage
    "I teleported home one night
    with Ron & Sid & Meg
    Ron stole Megan's heart away
    and I got Sydney's leg."

    - Restaurant at the End of the Universe
  • by kbob88 (951258) on Friday January 18, 2008 @09:42PM (#22103948)

    "Earlier this week actor Hayden Christensen, of Star Wars fame,


    "Earlier this week actor Hayden Christensen, of Star Wars infamy..."

    There, fixed that for you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Swampash (1131503)
      Nah, I liked Christensen in SW2 and 3. I thought he did pretty well with the script and direction he had... WHICH WAS AN ABOMINATION BEFORE GOD.
  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Friday January 18, 2008 @09:43PM (#22103956)
    If full-on analog teleportation using raw physics isn't possible in the short-to-mid term, what about recreation of a person at the endpoint?

    What I mean by that, is you are able to identify what in a person's brain (and related nervous systems) that allows them to be their own unique person, and can store that as some kind of information, if that can be sent to a far-off location, to a reusable body or synthetic equivalent. This body could then perform the same role that the original would. You could afterwards read what changed in the meantime to find out what happened.

    Of course, like all teleportation/copying ideas, it would challenge our definitions of what makes any of us unique, and the underlying nature of our definition of self.

    Ryan Fenton
    • Drat - should have added a dash between re- and creation, otherwise it looks like a word for relaxation (which itself looks like a rather funny word in that context). Darn you again, written english!

      Ryan Fenton
    • I've had some ideas on this... sort of a "grey goo" teleporter system. Basically you'd inject the body with a series of nanobots to disassemble the body from the inside out, while logging their every move. Once the messy stuff has been hollowed out of the body, it'd disassemble the exterior.

      Once all the data is collected and the original is recycled for later rebuiding materials, an identical system elsewhere would begin reconstruction by first constructing a pipeline rail system (sort of like a 3D outline
    • by mblase (200735)
      What I mean by that, is you are able to identify what in a person's brain (and related nervous systems) that allows them to be their own unique person, and can store that as some kind of information, if that can be sent to a far-off location, to a reusable body or synthetic equivalent.

      See also "Altered Carbon", as well as "The Matrix" et.al.
  • Quantum Information (Score:2, Informative)

    by ilikepi314 (1217898)
    The article doesn't go much into it, but I once saw and spoke with one of the leading researchers into quantum information theory. He gave a fantastic seminar on how to send "instant signals". This is my poor memory trying to recall things over my head, so please correct me if I make a mistake, but I think this is the general principle:

    You need quantum entangled particles so that their states are always related, and no matter how far apart, when you mess with one particle, the other one instantly changes st
  • by Anonymous Coward
    On my planet, we figured it out about 8 Earth years after we reached the point where you are. That's how I got here.
  • I found it fascinating that in Roger Zelazny's "Creatures of Light and Darkness", the most powerful being in the universe was a teleportationist. Think about it.
  • by KORfan (524397)
    Larry Niven wrote a bit about the problems with teleportation, such as conservation of momentum and energy. You also have to do two-way teleportation, otherwise you're teleporting into matter (that includes air). If you change elevations, what happens to the potential energy? Does it convert to heat?
    • by Dan East (318230)
      One of the more likely scenarios would be to have two blobs of matter that consist entirely of entangled pairs. You would transport, via standard means, one blob of matter to one location, and could then modify it by making changes to the first blob (or vice versa I presume).

      Dan East
    • by v1 (525388) on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:46PM (#22104490) Homepage Journal
      there are far more serious things to consider, like targetting. If you are strictly talking space, I don't even know if they've managed to figure out how fast Earth is moving through space. That's the big one with time travel too... ok lets say you CAN time travel. You'll do that exactly ONCE. ;) Then you'll suck vacuum for a few minutes. Time travel without teleportation is useless even if possible. For all we know someone's already invented it. Other than "I can make things disappear forever" you'd be hard pressed to prove it.

      • by evanbd (210358)

        Earth isn't "moving through space". There is no universal reference frame. (At least, so say both Newtonian mechanics and GR.) Earth is moving relative to the sun, the galaxy, the local group... but not "space".

        The obvious answer to all this, and where most serious investigations of time travel wind up, is that you need a coupled pair of machines; you leave one and arrive at the other. Think of a wormhole, with the two different ends at different points in both space and time. Yes, this means you can

    • by novakyu (636495)

      Larry Niven wrote a bit about the problems with teleportation, such as conservation of momentum and energy. You also have to do two-way teleportation, otherwise you're teleporting into matter (that includes air). If you change elevations, what happens to the potential energy? Does it convert to heat?

      As far as conservation laws go, you should remember that there is a third system: the teleportation device. Presumably, this device would be able to provide the energy necessary, absorb any additional energy or stray momentum. That's not to say that there are some huge problems, but those problems are not show-stoppers like, "Ha, ha. You violated energy conservation."

      And I'm not entirely convinced that the two-way teleportation is a must—why can't you simply displace the air first by creating a vacuu

    • Speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out. I don't think the game ever had a chance to show the portals working like a siphon, or if they thought of that. Would have been neat.
  • Post-singularity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ecloud (3022) on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:14PM (#22104218) Homepage Journal
    I think it will be done after the singularity, after technology has subsumed biological evolution. After that, it will not be so important because virtual reality and actual reality will have merged and people will be able to send themselves (in the form of software) anywhere that the network extends. But if it's possible, it still will remain an interesting academic challenge.
  • Science aside... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by januth (1000892) on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:33PM (#22104382)
    It sounds like they combined the pretty decent book by Steven Gould with Highlander 2 and Underworld.

    Plot outline from IMDB: "A genetic anomaly allows a young man to teleport himself anywhere. He discovers this gift has existed for centuries and finds himself in a war that has been raging for thousands of years between "Jumpers" and those who have sworn to kill them."

    Another Hollywood abortion...
  • There are basically two ways that are traditionally thought of for teleportation:

    1. Matter Transmission: analyzing the structure of an object, deconstructing it somehow, and transmitting the (vast amount of) energy and information needed to reconstruct the object to a remote location, with all the possible complications that entails (the beam being intercepted, extra copies being made, the transmission being garbled, etc.) I always hear Dr. McCoy's voice when I think about that, "Hell of a way to travel,
    • by novakyu (636495)
      Or there's the Stargate (the TV show) way. You do both at the same time: Yes, you need to open a wormhole for FTL communication, but you are still "transmitted" after having been "broken down into subatomic particles" or some such nonsense.
  • by PPH (736903) on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:47PM (#22104500)
    Now beam down my pants!
  • I think everyone in the field agrees that teleportation as the name of the physical effect is just wonderful. The name relates to the modern fairy tales. This, as a consequence, gets people and media talking about it. It excites students, too, which may be no less important.

    Compare to how dull it could have been if it were called a "transfer of quantum state" or something like that.
  • by TobyRush (957946) on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:55PM (#22104548) Homepage

    I'm just assuming that everyone here knows this already, but for the one or two of you who don't know, the Heisenberg Compensator is the part of the ST transporter that deals with the pesky quantum issue of not being able to pin down the exact location of the subatomic particles whizzing around in Picard's body.

    Of course it's physically impossible to make such a compensation, and when one of the technical guys on the show's staff (Okuda?) was asked how the Heisenberg Compensator worked, he replied, "Very well, thank you."

  • I see dead people! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by r_jensen11 (598210) on Friday January 18, 2008 @11:19PM (#22104704)

    The quantum state of a living creature is pretty formidable. That is just not in the foreseeable future.
    Then let's start with something more simple. Can we expect to teleport dead people in the foreseeable future?
  • Not sure which is more troubling - those who believe in such speculative ideas, or those who think that our current understanding of the physical world is absolutely correct.

    The steps along the way to actual teleportation of human beings would be revolutionary in and of themselves. At a simple level, a teleporter would "scan" the source item then duplicate / recreate it at another location. That implies that the receiving end could recreate a complex physical object from "scratch" given a "template" - so b

  • ...did anyone else watch the trailers for "Jumper" [apple.com] and think, "Hey, this looks like they borrowed a lot of ideas from Alfred Bester's 'The Stars My Destination' and a few more from 'The Demolished Man' (teleporter cops instead of telepath cops) and smoosh them together into a single story?"

    Not that it means it'll be a bad movie, but man, I hope the screenwriters and directors give credit where it's due.
  • Shilling (Score:3, Insightful)

    by peccary (161168) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @06:19PM (#22112518)
    Sez Hayden: "Not that there's anything at all novel in this discussion, mind you, but it gives us a chance to hype an upcoming Hollywood flick on the front page of Slashdot. Just in case some of you nerds really are living in a bubble that our producers haven't managed to penetrate."

It seems that more and more mathematicians are using a new, high level language named "research student".

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