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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 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.
  • 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.
  • by AsnFkr (545033) on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:16PM (#22104232) Homepage Journal
    Sounds more like they sent a fax.
  • by Artraze (600366) on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:17PM (#22104246)
    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 location without actually moving.
  • 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...
  • 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?
  • 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 Domstersch (737775) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [scinimod]> on Saturday January 19, 2008 @12:06AM (#22105076) Homepage

    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 Lije Baley (88936) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @03:30AM (#22106272)
    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 light. A general anasthetic is administered and you drift off to sleep noticing the glow of the blue light. Your body is "freezed" and scanned. The left half of your body is then precisely cut away from the right half and placed on the table under the red light. Using the scan information, the complementary half of your body is reconstructed, in the "frozen" state, joined with the original half, on each table. Each of the two now complete, molecularly-identical bodies are "thawed", the anasthesia wears off, and they wake up. Which light do you see?
  • by Fred_A (10934) <fred.fredshome@org> on Saturday January 19, 2008 @07:49AM (#22107440) Homepage

    Just the contrary. Actually they would rebuild the body without the cancer, the anemia etc and only the brain from the current consciousness-state, the rest of the body would be built according to the recording done when the subject was 21 year old.
    IOW immortality.
    ... for your clone.

  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @10:23AM (#22108220) Homepage Journal
    That scenario has actually been analyzed by philosophers (speculative fiction provides a rich source of theoretical problems): if a teleportation technology were to cause me to disappear at point A and have what for all possible purposes would seem to be me appear at point B, would it be me? Or would I have been destroyed at point A and would the person who appears as B just think he was me?

    One view, stemming from the Scottish philosopher David Hume, could be characterized as saying the question is meaningless. "Identity" is a construct of language, in reality objects don't have identity they just have a bundle of properties.

    If you think about it, the way you pose the problem leads to an answer, which in turn poses new problems.

    If we suppose that the entity at B is exactly like you wouldn't that mean he has every property you have? Well, then what about identity? If identity is a property, and the terms of our problem are to assume that B is like A in every respect, then he'd have to be you, because the technology would have reconstructed that property. If he is not you, and identity is a property, the technology has failed to meet the conditions of our problem.

    So when you consider some teleportation technology, you ought to consider if it reconstructs whatever property it is that you consider to be identity. For example, if identity is the possession of immortal soul that being nonphysical is not measurable or observable in any way, then there is no teleportation technology that could ensure that your immortal soul isn't stripped of any physical container.

    Teleportation (and time travel) would produce a person that is necessarily different in one characteristic: location in space time. If you look at identity as being part of a contiguous process in space time (the way Kurt Vonnegut's Trafamadorians saw people as a kind of four dimensional snake), then teleportation or time travel results in a new, non-contiguous segment, and thus a different identity. But if that is identity, it's not clear why anybody would care so much about it.

    So the good news is that according to the bundle theory, you don't have to worry about it teleportation, time travel, or duplication. On the other hand, maybe you should worry about Alzheimer's, brain damage, or learning new things and having new experiences.
  • 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."

"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history." -- George Bernard Shaw

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