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Teleportation — Fact and Fiction 348

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 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.
  • Quantum Information (Score:2, Informative)

    by ilikepi314 ( 1217898 ) on Friday January 18, 2008 @09:49PM (#22104014)
    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 state accordingly. Thus, you can send signals instantly to anywhere (theoretically) by this approach, manipulating a particle some place and having people elsewhere record the changes from its entangled twin.

    The problem is that while its instant when you decide to do it, you first have to get half of the entangled particles to their destination (moon base or whatever) -- so it would be days, months or years until you transported the entangled particles elsewhere, and ONLY THEN could you actually instantly send signals to the moon, Pluto, etc.

    It seems teleportation would have a similar constraint, based on the article. This isn't to say teleportation or instant communication is never going to work, but just that infrastructure would need to be well thought-out in advance, and that it isn't quite the "go anywhere, even if you haven't been there before" of sci-fi.
  • by acid_andy ( 534219 ) on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:04PM (#22104126)
    If I have a long stick and you hold the other end of it and I thrust my end towards you, you will instantly faster than the speed of light feel it at your end.

    Although it's a neat idea as a thought experiment with an infinitely rigid stick, in reality the effect cannot be faster than the speed of light as the force you apply accerlerates the molecules at the end closest to your hand first, which in turn apply an increased force against the next molecules along and so on until the force has propogated through the whole stick to the other end. As it's essentially forces accelerating masses, they must still obey special relativity and cannot move faster than the speed of light in a vacuum.
  • 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 KORfan ( 524397 ) <korfan AT frontier DOT com> on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:11PM (#22104194) Homepage
    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 AJWM ( 19027 ) on Friday January 18, 2008 @10:19PM (#22104278) Homepage
    You're exactly right. In fact, the impulse is transmitted at the speed of sound in the stick.
  • 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."

  • by MisterCaptainFunKill ( 1181071 ) on Friday January 18, 2008 @11:13PM (#22104680)

    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).
  • by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <valuation&gmail,com> on Friday January 18, 2008 @11:42PM (#22104862)
    "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."

    Latinum cannot be replicated without being detected as "counterfeit." That's why it is used as a currency.
  • Re:Death and Rebirth (Score:4, Informative)

    by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Friday January 18, 2008 @11:56PM (#22105000) Journal
    It was called Second Chances [memory-alpha.org]. Gotta love wikis.
  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Saturday January 19, 2008 @02:20AM (#22105856)

    Hayden is Star Wars, not Star Trek. That's why he doesn't know it.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama