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Is Star Trek Style Teleportation Achievable?

Updated on September 21, 2015

Teleportation in literature

Teleportation has been part of Science Fiction and fantasy since the time of The Arabian Nights. It also appears in religious texts.

In 1929 The Disintegration Machine by Arthur Conan Doyle was published in Strand Magazine. This flash fiction story centers around a machine capable of disintegrating and restoring matter.

Probably one of the most famous short stories involving teleportation is The Fly. In this story an experiment with a teleporter goes wrong turning it's inventor into a hideous beast with a flies head.

Teleportation in Movies and TV

Probably the most famous occurrence of teleportation in film and TV is the use or Transporters in Star Trek. These Transporters were used to transport crew and supplies between ships and planets.

Stargate is another TV and Film franchise that used the idea of Teleportation. This time it was used to transport people across vast distances as well as short ones.

Stargate Plans
Stargate Plans
How to determine a Stargate destination
How to determine a Stargate destination
Stargate DHD (Dial Home Device)
Stargate DHD (Dial Home Device)
Star Trek Transporter
Star Trek Transporter
Pattern Enhancers
Pattern Enhancers

How Teleportation works in Fiction

In most cases of teleportation being used as a plot device the the principal idea is the same. That is break down matter into its atomic components and send them at light speed or faster to their destination where they are reassembled.

Some systems need two devices connected together. The Stargate and ring transporters of Stargate are examples of this. Others only need the one device like the Star Trek Transporter.

The Stargate works by connecting two devices with a wormhole. To do this you need to dial a location on a DHD using at least a seven symbol address. Six for the location and the seventh is the point of origin. When a person or object enters the wormholes even horizon it is broken down and sent through as a beam of energy. The object or person is then put back together by the destination gate as they come out the other side.

Sometimes the Star Trek transporter needs a little help to find the intended target on a planet. Because of this a secondary device is sometimes deployed on the surface. This device is a pattern enhancer. These work by placing three devices on the surface to create a triangle. Once activated they send data to the transporter which can then transport whatever is within the triangle. There are also times when two transporters are used. like when transporting from one ship to another. Things can go wrong with many different outcomes. Death, Splitting of a person into two individuals, merging of two individuals and even time travel.

In the Fly two devices are used. One to demolecularize the subject and the other to reintegrate them. Things can also go wrong with this type of system and just like the Star trek transporter it can mix up and make new creatures.

The Reality

In May 2014 physicists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University in the Netherlands made a breakthrough in quantum teleportation.

We reliably teleported quantum information between two bits of diamond located three meters apart.

What they did was use three Entangaled* Particles to transport spin information three meters.

"It is possible that Star Trek-style “beaming up” would become a reality in the future.

“What we are teleporting is the state of a particle,'' said Professor Hanson. ''If you believe we are nothing more than a collection of atoms strung together in a particular way, then in principle it should be possible to teleport ourselves from one place to another.”

“In practice it's extremely unlikely, but to say it can never work is very dangerous," Professor Hanson added. "I would not rule it out because there's no fundamental law of physics preventing it. If it ever does happen it will be far in the future.”

Professor Ronald Hanson

This is not the same as transporting a person or large item from one place to another like in Star Trek. It is however a step in the right direction.

The Devices in The Fly are probably the nearest to what Physicists are using in quantum experiments today. The two diamonds in the latest experiment are the two machines and the quantum information is the atoms of the person being transported.

We still have a long way to go to get to the Star Trek version to teleportation but if the below article is to be believed it could happen within the next century.

Michio Kaku answers a question about Teleportation

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    • Nicholas Pollock profile image

      Nicholas Pollock 2 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      You've captured here two of the things I love about science fiction - the detail involved and the fact that there is at least some basis in actual science.

      In Stargate, they didn't simply say "here is gate that transports people;" they drew plans and named components and requires a seven symbol address...love it.

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