To say that teleportation to and from the starship is a staple in Star Trek is an understatement. It’s a long time since I saw anything connected with the franchise and I was wondering if the principle behind how the teleportation works was ever explained within it.
What I’m getting at is, I always imagined teleportation as the scientific achievement of a process that would otherwise be magical, whereby a person (or a physical object) would simply be caused by some kind of waves/beams to travel intact from one location to another. However, more recent sources that I have come across speculate that it would be achieved by breaking down the subject into particles and putting them together elsewhere. In fact, I have run into an even more extreme interpretation. There was a book in my middle school library called the Usborne Book of the Future. It was published in 1979 and speculated on how we would be living in the future, comparing it with the past and present along the way. I quite liked the book and it’s interesting to look at it now and see what has come true and what hasn’t (it’s available for download through pdfdrive.com). However, there was one rubric of which I retained a vague memory of it being bizarre, if not unsettling, where two space travellers who used teleportation are shown in an illustration. The other day, I stumbled across the book on the aforesaid website, and re-read the caption, which I reproduce here in full: “Future travellers check their arrival data with a robot clerk. Their journey has not been by starship, but by teleportation. They are, in fact, not ‘real’ people, but copies involved in a fantastic process, the reconstruction of living matter. Back on Earth, computers made detailed examinations of their atomic structure. This was put into code and the data transmitted across space using laser beams. At Starport Central, computers receiving the information used vats of the necessary chemicals to reconstruct the travellers in their original images. Horrifying though this idea may sound, a laser-copying process already exists to make images of inanimate objects.” (The rubric is reproduced here on Twitter.)
The “horrifying” aspect that the writer chose not to spell out is that presumably that the “originals” of the people were somehow destroyed during the process and that only copies of them survive. Is that how the Star Trek characters are teleported? That they are basically destroyed each time and reconstituted as copies of themselves? Or are they actually moved from place to place? Is this ever explained?
Honestly, it’s difficult to imagine that ordinary people would be so enthusiastic about travelling through space that they would ever be willing to have themselves destroyed so that their exact copy could simulate their travel there. (So as you can imagine, I consider the idea that uploading someone’s mind would cause that person to be immortal to be absolute nonsense - it would be a clone and not the original person).