Teleportation: Would it ever become More Than A Concept?
“Scotty, beam me up.”
Even if you haven’t watched a single episode of any of the Star Trek movies and TV series, you may still have heard this line one way or another. That is just how popular the concept of teleportation has become over the decades. No longer considered as some abracadabra in the realm of magic and mystery, the idea has now evolved… It is adopted as a solid concept in the genre of science fiction.
As a matter of fact, teleportation may well be on its way to go even beyond science fiction. With our recent developments and understanding in technology and physics, there may be several ways to instantly travel from one point in space to another.
This method is perhaps one of the most commonly presented methods of teleportation. Star Trek eloquently defines matter teleportation as “scrambling matter, converting it into energy, and then beamed to a location to be reconverted back to their original molecular pattern.” In other words, matter teleportation is the process of transforming matter into a molecular stream. It is then reconstructed back again into the original matter as it arrives in its destination.
Why it’s cool
Matter teleportation is grounded on the idea that objects, at their most fundamental level, are made up of atoms. These serve as the building blocks. Therefore, reconstructing those same beamed atoms in the exact same manner and pattern is an aim to be attained… Could we recreate that very same object at another location, hence achieving almost instantaneous transportation? Even in the face of gargantuan calculation data (the human body is equivalent to about 3×1032 GB of data for instance). While we have an underlying mechanism as to how it works, we are not there yet. Still, it is fairly plausible in reality from a technical context.
Why it’s drool
As feasible as matter transportation sounds, there is one big hindrance to its actual realization: Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. This quantum mechanics principle states that the more accurate a particle’s position is known, the less accurate its calculated momentum will be, and vice versa.
So, we may know the actual atomic constituents of matter, but due to this principle, knowing where exactly to put them or how exactly to put them is just not possible. This means that you can never really put those streamed atoms back together exactly in the way they were. It seems then that both their original positions and momentum at the time of teleportation will never be completely determined on both sides.
But how about using quantum mechanics itself to our advantage? Such is the freaky concept of quantum teleportation. this is a phenomenon that Einstein had once even called “spooky action at a distance.” First physically observed in 1964 by John Stewart Bell, the underlying principle of quantum teleportation is quantum entanglement. It is described as a physical phenomenon that happens when pairs of fundamental particles produce opposing sets of states, information, or interaction.
Why it’s cool
In a quantum teleportation occurrence, one particle that is entangled to another particle will exhibit the exact opposite state, even as one or the other switches states. It may not be particularly impressive sounding. Imagine though that the interactions happen instantly. Once you realize that, it is pretty amazing. You can inevitably observe, even conclude that these particles actually exchange information at a rate much, much faster than the speed of light.
Theoretically, an object with entangled particles on another object could exchange configurations freely in a snap. Communication is the first thing that come to mind in quantum teleportation. This could potentially eliminate radio time lag caused by vast distances in space (Mars to Earth communication for example, can be delayed by as much as 20 minutes).
Why it’s drool
At this point it’s probably obvious now why quantum teleportation isn’t as exciting as it sounds to be. Even if we ignore how Heisenberg will spoil this again for you, the teleported bit still won’t be matter or objects, but only information. More specifically, it is the opposing state of the entangled particle. You can completely forget about teleporting yourself from your Earth villa to your Moon resort with quantum teleportation, because it won’t ever be doing that for you.
So is there really no real scientific way to cover vast distances instantly using teleportation today? Don’t give up just yet, because particle teleportation may be the final answer to our contemporary teleportation breakthrough.
Why it’s cool
Particle teleportation is a concept that was proposed earlier this 2016 by physicist Yuchuan Wei. Basically, it compounds on the fundamental concept of quantum superposition. This is the foundation of stellar nuclear fusion, and the cause of the end of Moore’s Law. Wei’s idea is that, teleportation of electrons may be the underlying principle behind the mechanics of superconductivity and superfluidity. Should it be further observed, proven, and controlled, the discovery might just pave the way to developing a method that will actually teleport particles to a set destination.
Why it’s drool
Teleporting particles does indeed sound a lot closer to matter teleportation. The concept still has to overcome the biggest hurdle of passing through peer reviewed experimentation. As a new idea, it is yet to be definitively proven and repeated. It is even further yet to be proven of any use to our ultimate objective. Regardless, the promise that particle teleportation reveals does seem rather hopeful. At the very least, it might give us ample reason not to give up our transporter dream just yet.