Start Trek Tech and the Reality of Teleportation

Some smart people over at the University of Leicester recently published a paper theorizing the possibility of teleportation. You know, like, “Beam me up, Scotty.”

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Unfortunately, it doesn’t look good…

The major hiccup that we run into right off the bat is that the energy required to teleport a single person seems to be dependent on bandwidth. That means a decrease in time (travel) creates an increase in power consumption.

The amount of energy and time it would take, per these smarts folks’ calculations, to send you from one place to another — say, from anywhere on the planet into orbit — pretty much negates the whole idea of teleportation.

In fact, the data show that it would literally be faster to walk, no matter how far you’re teleported!

You see, storing 100% of a single cell requires something like 10 billion bits of data, which, in and of itself, is not that big a deal. Especially in this context, since every individual cell in the human body holds all the information you need to build every other cell (gotta love DNA).

That’s actually the easy part.

But foregoing any existential or spiritual arguments, you’re more than just a bag of meat. You have an entire lifetime of memories and information stored in that wonderful brain of yours… and that’s where things get a little tricky.

Speaking simply in terms of storage space, they’re estimating the brain’s data take up 2.6 times 10 to the 42nd power bits of data.

That’s 2,600,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, or 2.6 tredecillion bits of data, a number you’ve probably never heard of before.

Who knew you were such a powerhouse of information?

Transferring the entire lot with zero degradation (yes, please!) at a speed of 30 GHz would take about 350,000 times longer than the universe has been in existence.

Folks, that’s a really long time… It’s 350,000 times 14 billion years, which is math I can’t even do. And if you were thinking you would just solve all your problems just by increasing bandwidth, just settle down, smarty-pants. They tried that too.

The study found that increasing bandwidth enough to speed up the process by even a few thousand years would consume all of the power on the planet in short order.

But there is still hope!

Now, even though it sucks that I can’t take my lunch break in Argentina, the good news is that teleportation isn’t off the table just yet.

By using principles of quantum physics, as opposed to the classical kind, physicists at ETH Zurich have recently been successful in transporting information across something similar to a computer chip at a distance of about 6 millimeters.

Quantum teleportation is interesting stuff for a lot of reasons. But there are two big things that I think are important to take away from here:

First, the big difference is that this is actual teleportation, not a gimmick or nickname. Historically, information transfers have all been done using carrier waves. Whether those waves are optic, radio or micro depends on what information is being transferred and what kind of technology is being used to send and receive the information.

But with quantum teleportation, there is no carrier wave, no transfer medium and no physical movement from one place to another. (Yes, carrier waves count as physical movement. It’s science.)

So how is that possible?

Well, that brings me to my second takeaway…

Quantum teleportation takes advantage of something called quantum entanglement.

The process used to achieve this state is complex and outside the scope of this article, but the important thing to know is that once a state of quantum entanglement is reached, the two entangled particles act in tandem, meaning any cause imposed on one particle will result in an effect observable in both.

So if you were to enter information into one entangled unit, it would simply appear in its partner.

Pretty cool, right?

Now, we’re obviously still in the beginning stages of this technology, but the potential is very exciting, just in terms of quantum computing.

I like to imagine a future where communication is instantaneous, whether I’m talking to someone on the other side country, the other side of the planet or the other side of the galaxy.

And just as a side note, I don’t care what anyone says… I’ll never give up on my dream of saying, “One to beam up.”

Here’s to the future,

Patrick Copeland
For Tomorrow in Review