Real-life 'Beam me up, Scotty?'

I’ll admit to loving Star Trek.

Now that that is out, here is my question - I read an article some time ago (3 years?) that told how scientists could scan the properties of a proton at point A and modify an electron at point B to ape those properties and, in effect, change[sup]*[/sup].

The article said that, if that was possible, then what we are talking about is teleportation.

What gives?

*[sub](I may have the specifics wrong, but that’s the concept.)[/sub]

I don’t think it was 13 years ago; as far as I know, the first proposal was in 1993 by a team from IBM.

It appears that, at least in some sense, we are talking about teleportation. So far it’s only photons (I think), and since all photons with the same properties are indistingushable it’s a little difficult to figure out what’s really happening.

The basis is the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox. It appears that there may actually be some applications in computers.

There’s pretty universal agreement that teleporting physical objects is a pretty humongous leap beyond what’s been done, and is probably either impossible or impractical. We’re certainly not going to be beaming aorund town in the near future.

“Beam Me Up”

The “Physics of Star Trek” covered this pretty nicely. The primary problems with teleporting humans this way are:

  1. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle makes it impossible to know all the necessary information about the electrons in your body in order to duplicate them. (STTNG deals with this by incorporating “Heisenberg Compensators” into the teleport system; and

  2. A computer big enough to store knowledge concerning every atom in your body seems to be an impossibility.


Thanks for the link. I’ve got some reading to do…

Since you brought it up… Good book!

I loved the debate about the nature of transporters. For those of you not familiar, the debate breaks down into 2 camps:
[li]The transporter takes a “picture” of your body, destroys you completely and re-creates you at another location using new matter.[/li][li]The transporter takes a “picture” of you body, turns you, atom by atom, into energy, then transmits that energy to another location where it is converted back to (presumably) the same matter which is then used for your reassembly.[/li][/list=1]

I bring it up because it raises some really interesting questions about the nature of the soul:

If you were transported via method #2, we would all agree that you were still you when you came out the other side. But what about method #1?

And if you say that method #1 is not how it works because you would not be you after being reconstructed from new matter, consider the following thought experiment:

If your leg was replaced by an exactly identical prosthetic, would you still be you? Of course you would. Now, extend the experiment… At what point do you cease being you? When your brain is replaced? When 51% of your body is replaced? Once 100% of your body is replaced?

Interesting issues, no?

:sdimbert looks around for manhattan while buckling seat belt in anticipation of the short flight to GD:

How about the take Michael Crighton had on this in Timeline?

You’re essentially ‘killed’ or destroyed here then teleported from a parallel Universe that does know how to do teleportation (they didn’t bother telling the teleportess they were about to be vaporized figuring they wouldn’t get in the machine if they knew).

The pseudo-science in that book had its problems but it was an interesting twist.

A bit of conjecture here, but if there was a soul it seems to do a good job of attaching itself to matter. The “I’ll lose my soul” fear sounds a lot like “I’ll really die if I dream of being killed” fear.

As to being “you,” we’re constantly being changed through chemical processes, a slightly different you coming out of a teleporter doesn’t seem like a big deal.

Though it would be pretty cool if everyone that came out of a teleporter was spiteful and suddenly sported a goatee, well except maybe not the women.

hmm, so if what you guys are saying is right, when we teleport, if we do, we are getting taken apart, atom by atom? I doubt that would hurt, but wouldn’t it take a little while?

And as for turning ourselves into energy, and being sent of somewhere, does that mean that we can travel through electrical cords and stuff like that? Kind of like in the matrix?

Don’t get my hopes up! :slight_smile:

From the dudes who thought it up, here ya go:

Quantum teleportation is not only possible it is necessary to most things we do. As for us teleporting here’s what author/physicist Michio Kaku has to say:

Source: Michio Kaku, Hyperspace p.117

Cecil Adams on the IBM “Teleportation” Experiment.

Thank you, Manny.

SuaSponte writes:

This is not a problem with quantum teleportation because you don’t actually measure the information about the particles in the body to be teleported - you teleport a quantum state from point A to point B without measuring it.

The mechanism was described in the April 2000 Scientific American - unfortunately the article is not on-line. What you do is you take a bunch of entangled matter (matter such that if you interact with half of it the other half reflects this) and put half of it at point A and half of it at point B - each half must have the same mass as the thing you wish to teleport. You then stick yourself in a quantum blender with your half of the entangled matter and you whirl it all around and then measure the resulting state (resulting in 18 quadrillion terabytes of data.) Since you aren’t measuring the state of your body you don’t have heisenberg problems.

The large amount of data does in fact cause your problem number 2 (a large enough computer) to be a factor in this.

You then send your 18 quadrillion terabytes of data (I’m WAGing the size of the data) over your ‘fat pipe’ to point B, and when 18 thousand millenia later it all arrives you use it to manipulate the entangled matter, which reconstructs you. The manipulations don’t actually involve measuring the matter, so again you don’t have heisenberg problems. As an example of manipulations, the computer directive might be ‘put photon X through a 273 degree oriented polarizer’. This doesn’t measure the photon but does change its state.

I’ve simplified this quite a bit and I don’t have the article handy but that’s a good layman’s view, I hope.

The key points are[ul][]you can’t exceed the speed of light[]you can’t make copies of yourself[]you are physically destroyed in the process and reconstructed from the entangled matter (philosophers take over from here as to whether it is ‘you’.)[]it is likely to be impractical to send anything other than single particles for a very long timeit is likely that sending humans or other complex objects will prove practically impossible while theoretically possible[/ul]


Someone or something is probably insulted in this coupling, but I can’t figure out which.