Is Human Teleportation Really Possible?

Is Human Teleportation Really Possible?

Promotional photo of the cast of Star Trek dur...
Promotional photo of the cast of Star Trek during the third season (1968–1969). From left to right: James Doohan, Walter Koenig, DeForest Kelley, Majel Barrett, William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, and George Takei. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did Star Trek pave the way for a breakthrough in teleportation?  I couldn’t have picked a better way to kick off the week after my Star Trek week if I’d planned it that way (and really, I didn’t).  Today, I came across an article posted by George Takei (A.K.A. Sulu from the original series) on an announcement that they’ve actually teleported something.  Right now, they’re talking three small particles, but if that is possible and everything (including humans) is just made up of atoms, then why wouldn’t it be possible to transport a human across distances.

Here’s the deal, Dutch scientists successfully made something disappear and reappear 10-feet from its original location.  The Delft University team led by Professor Ronald Hanson coded information into sub-atomic particles and teleported them between two places.  This is the first time the test was 100 percent successful.  Hanson points out that there are no laws of physics that would prevent the teleportation of large objects, including humans.  However, it is physically impossible for anything to travel faster than light, the Irish Times reported.

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. – Professor Ronald Hanson, Delft University, Irish Times, Beam me up: scientists say human teleportation is ‘possible’, May 30, 2014

Hanson goes on to say that while it is “extremely unlikely” this will be put into practice it is “very dangerous” to say it would never work.

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, Delft University, Irish Times, Beam me up: scientists say human teleportation is ‘possible’, May 30, 2014

This project wasn’t developed with the intention of “beaming” people from one place to another, it is all about creating a network, like the internet, between ultra-fast quantum computers.  The speed of these quantum computers outstrip today’s supercomputers by miles.

“Entangled” particles acquire a merged identity.  No matter the distance between these “entangled” particles, the state of one instantly influences the other, and teleportation takes advantage of this strange quality.  This is a theory Einstein dismissed.  He said it was “spooky action at a distance”, but that hasn’t kept scientists from demonstrating this is a real phenomenon time and again.

Okay, and now for the sciency bits.  Professor Hanson’s experiment takes three entangled particles, a nitrogen atom locked in a diamond crystal and two electrons.  These particles then transferred spin information a distance of three meters.  The quantum equivalent of a digital “bit”, a “qubit”, held information on four possible states.  A “qubit” can represent more states than a “bit” in classical computer speak.  Only two values can be represented in a “bit”, usually a one or a zero, but a “qubit” can be a one, a zero or a “superposition” of both states at the same time.

The main application of quantum teleportation is a quantum version of the internet, extending a global network that we can use to send quantum information. – Professor Ronald Hanson, Delft University, Irish Times, Beam me up: scientists say human teleportation is ‘possible’, May 30, 2014

With this kind of information transfer, no one can intercept the data.  “In principle, it is 100 percent secure.”   Hackers of the world don’t have anything to worry about quite yet.  They’ve still got a ways to go.

Now that they’ve conquered 10-feet, the next attempt will be to transport information between buildings 1,300 meters apart.

I believe it will work.  But it’s a huge technical challenge – there’s a reason why nobody has done it yet. – Professor Ronald Hanson, Delft University, Irish Times, Beam me up: scientists say human teleportation is ‘possible’, May 30, 2014

Is this one more example of Star Trek predicting the future?  Maybe.  It certainly wouldn’t be the first time science fiction has given us a first look at the technology of the future.

‘Til next time,



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