How to Teleport: Teleportation for Beginners
If you’re anything like me, you will have spent many a futile hour day-dreaming about teleportation. How cool would it be to transport ourselves huge distances quicker than it takes to shake a lamb’s tail? No more tedious car journeys, no more mind numbing train travel and best of all, no more mingling with the obnoxious hoi polloi in crowded airports. If I could teleport, I’d zap myself everywhere in a blink. Zap out of bed to the car in the morning, zap back when I realise I have no clothes on, zap into the shower, zap into some funky clothes and finally zap myself directly to the shops as it dawns on me that I don’t need the useless junk of automotive metal my sleep befuddled brain first zapped me into when I woke up.
So how can I make my dreams (and perhaps yours) a reality? Well fortunately for all of us, crazy mad scientists the whole world over are even now dreaming up new ways of twisting the very laws of physics to enable us to transport ourselves almost instantaneously to our destinations, or if not instantly at least as fast as the speed of light.
This (admittedly scientifically naïve) article will show you the popular methods which you can employ to realise your full travelling potential. So without further ado, here are the best ways currently hypothesised to cheat the laws of distance related physics:
Dematerialisation (or How to Lose Lots of Weight Instantly)
First up is the oh-so-fun sounding dematerialisation. In this particular game of astral roulette, the mad scientist will place you on (or possibly in) some kind of machine designed to scan the properties and position of every single atom in your grotesque/sublime (delete as applicable) body. Once all the atoms are scanned the data will be sent to a remote location where the atoms will be reformed using whatever handy molecules happen to be nonchalantly kicking around. Make no mistake though, there are lots of these little atomic critters in your body which need to be copied, roughly 10 to the power of 28 atoms, which despite the deceptively small sounding integers is actually quite a mind bogglingly large number. The net result is a new “you” formed at the destination which is an exact copy of the original “you”.
There’s always a catch however and this method comes with a bloody great big whale hook. In order to scan your body down to the atomic level in this manner, it requires your original beautiful self to be completely destroyed. Utterly annihilated in fact, which is a sure fire way to ruin anyone’s afternoon. This is in part due to something called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Heisenburg was a German physicist born in 1901 and was generally acknowledged by other scientists to be a pretty clever chap. His work in quantum physics led him to assert his Uncertainty Principle which basically states that it’s impossible to know both the exact position and exact velocity of an object at the same time. This is a bit of a bugger for the mad teleportation scientists who need to know the exact position and velocity of each atom in your body so they can recreate them precisely at the teleportation destination. Unfortunately the more you try to scan an atom, the more it is disrupted by the scanning process, until it is completely changed and the information derived from it is useless. This is a bit like trying to apologise to your upset girlfriend when you have no idea why she is actually in a strop. The more you try to find out how you made her angry, the worse the overall situation gets, until eventually your evening disintegrates.
The Einstein-Podolsky-Rose Effect
Fortunately there is an answer to this particular conundrum, but it took three very clever scientists to figure it out. The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen effect was put forward by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen. It describes a unique effect of quantum physics where two particles can become entangled such that when the properties of one change it automatically affects the properties of the other. So by entangling objects it is possible to scan just enough information from the original atom to then be able to garner the remaining un-scanned information from another entangled atom. The original atom is still completely destroyed by the scanning process, but the combination of information from both entangled atoms is sent to the destination location for reforming into a perfect replica.
If this makes no sense at all then think back to the original girlfriend analogy. With entanglement it is analogous to me doing something wrong and my girlfriend instantly knowing about it wherever I am and wherever she is. My wrongdoings and my girlfriend’s uncanny ability to detect them are then passed in exact replica to every other female in my life, most notably my mother. This is a clearly proven scientific phenomenon which explains my total inability to get away with anything even remotely considered inappropriate by the women in my life.
But Who Will You Be on the Other Side? Tweedledum and Tweedledee
As far fetched as dematerialisation teleportation might sound, it is actually the only method which has been successfully demonstrated in a mad scientific laboratory to date. In 1998 mad scientists in California successfully teleported a photon of light a whopping one metre across their lab, creating an exact replica of the photon and destroying the original photon as predicted. Everyone was really impressed until someone pointed out they could have just flicked the light switch on instead.
Similarly, in 2002 an Australian team of mad scientists successfully teleported a laser beam several metres across their laboratory which, while not advancing us much closer to human teleportation, is still infinitely cooler than the Californian experiment due to involving laser beams.
Most recently however, in 2006 some proper mad scientists in Denmark managed to successfully teleport information stored in a laser beam into a cloud of atoms at the teleportation destination. This is pretty cool as it shows for the first time teleportation at least partly involving matter.
The big debate however for dematerialisation teleportation is whether or not you would be the same person coming out of the teleport machine as the person that rather stupidly went in. The fact that the original “you” has to be destroyed in order to create a replica “you” does not get away from the fact that the new “you” is basically a copy of the original. This copy is nonetheless a perfect copy, containing all the thoughts and memories of the person that went into the machine, but can this really be classed as the same person?
It would take a brave or possibly foolish soul to step into a teleport machine in England with the knowledge that they will be roasted alive by a giant laser while a copy of them steps out of a booth in America. This form of teleportation via disintegration does not seem to constitute continuity of existence from any practical perspective.
Then there’s the whole religious debate. I’m not going to open this particular can of worms too far in this article, rather if you indulge me; we’ll just take a sneaky peek under the lid. I would not be comfortable arguing that all the atoms in our body constitute the sum total of our existence. There may well be something “else” that makes each and every one of us unique and I’m not sure that special something would be preserved or transferred to the duplicate “you”. In short, while dematerialisation teleportation is potentially a practical possibility, I’m not going to be signing myself up for the ultimate sun-bed anytime soon.
Fortunately, there are alternative methods of teleportation potentially available for those of us unwilling to be ripped apart atom by atom and one of these methods is known as inter-dimensional travelling. This rather handy hypothesis involves postulating that there are a potentially infinite number of parallel universes or other dimensions which we could theoretically travel to. The idea is you find a way to break into the extra dimensional space where it is likely time and space would be significantly distorted in relation to our Universe. You simply take advantage of that distortion to travel a short distance in the extra plane of existence before re-entering our Universe thousands of miles from your original location.
Easy, huh? This method potentially gets us around another problem inherent in our dematerialisation solution, namely that with dematerialisation we are still restricted by the speed of light for the actual data transfer that occurs during teleportation. In other words, with dematerialisation teleportation, once all your atoms have been scanned, the information contained within them still needs to be sent to the teleportation destination and the fastest possible way of doing that will be limited by the speed of light.
This is not too much of a problem on planet Earth. Considering light travels at approximately 671 million miles per hour, teleportation would still seem a pretty fair alternative to catching the bus in most circumstances. Technically, this is not instantaneous transport though. You would have to start teleporting between planets to really notice the delay, but there’s a hair here so let’s do our best to split it. Let’s say you wanted to teleport to Mars. It would take a tortoise like three minutes to get there at the speed of light, assuming the best case scenario of Mars being on its closest trajectory to Earth. By using inter-dimensional travelling it is theoretically possible to travel faster than the speed of light, due to the different constant natures of the hypothetical parallel universes.
The only tiny problem with this inter-dimensional theory is that it is all a load of complete bunkum. It’s a bit like deciding to travel to Mars by flying on the back of a hippogriff which you grew from a bag of magic beans. It’s a nice idea in theory, but no matter how many prize cows you sell, you never seem to get the beans that do the business. I’m happy to be proved wrong, but this method should stay firmly in the comic books until any resonance of scientific proof is found to support the notion of this farcical approach to teleportation.
Is That a Worm in Your Pocket?
Which brings us zipping to our last method of teleportation. This involves manipulating theoretical tunnels in space known as wormholes.
In 1916, Einstein wrote his general theory of relativity, which still stands today as the current description of gravitation in modern physics. Einstein and his scientist pal Nathan Rosen later expanded on this theory to show that the Universe employed a curved-space structure and proved beyond a shadow of my personal mathematical idiocy that it was theoretically possible to join two distant regions of space through a tunnel-like curved spatial shortcut. That’s a wormhole to you and me.
Disappointingly, wormholes are not caused by gigantic grubs wriggling their way through space and time, but rather describe the tunnel like effect of linking distant points of the Universe while mucking around with four or more dimensions. The entrance to a wormhole would apparently look much like a black hole in space. If you managed to find (or create) a traversable wormhole then it could effectively swallow you in one end and spit you out the other end so fast that light would actually be quite embarrassed when it finally caught up with you.
The problem with wormholes is, even if they do exist, they would be extremely difficult to stabilise. Most wormholes would simply collapse too quickly for anything to cross from one end to the other. It wouldn’t be much fun to go travelling through a galactic wormhole only to have the whole thing crumple on you half way through. It would make the disintegration part of dematerialisation teleportation look like being tickled with a fluffy piece of cotton wool.
Death by black-hole would definitely not be pretty. You would potentially be stretched out like a long piece of string, starting anywhere from your toes to your head and the whole agonising process could last for what felt like an infinity of time. Those cheerful mad scientists have actually made up a name for this ghastly demise; rather aptly they have coined the phrase spaghettification to describe the effect. It doesn’t bear thinking about exactly what constitutes the accompanying Bolognese sauce.
In theory then, wormholes are a great way to teleport around the universe, assuming you can work out a way to stablise them and also prevent yourself from being crushed to death by the awesome gravitational forces implicit in their design. In practice though, despite being predicted in Einstein’s equations and proved in theory by clever scientists such as Karl Schwarzschild, they still have not been discovered in any practical sense and would likely be located deep in space if they do actually exist. For our immediate purposes then, it must sadly be concluded that they are not particularly useful.
Hyper-Jump to the End
So to conclude this jaunty little trip through extra-dimensional space, hopefully it is clear that there are three potential options available for you to explore in your quest to become a budding new teleporter. I won’t lie to you, there are one or two issues to be ironed out depending on which approach you decide to favour, but I’m sure you’re up to the challenge.
I hope you’ve found this article extremely useful, but if not, please feel free to register your complaints at my extra-dimensional office in Alpha Centauri, a mere 4.37 light years away. Thanks.