Ever dream of a world where traffic is nonexistent and zapping instantly from one place to another involves merely stepping onto a small circular platform and requesting the assistance of a rotund Scotsman? Well, your dreams may become reality, as scientists are figuring out how teleportation might work.
It has to do with Quantum Entanglement. "According to the quantum theory, everything vibrates," says theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. "When two electrons are placed close together, they vibrate in unison. When you separate them, that's when all the fireworks start.” Quantum Entanglement would “entangle” the electrons, meaning they'd act in unison, even when quarantined from one another.
“You can separate them by as much as a galaxy if you want. Then, if you vibrate one of them, somehow on the other end of the galaxy the other electron knows that its partner is being jiggled." Sounds pretty kinky. I like where this research is headed.
But that’s not all. Scientist Christopher Monroe of the University of Maryland has effectively “entangled” atoms three feet removed from one another (not quite a galaxy, but it’s a start). In a speed faster than light, one atom seamlessly replicates the properties of the other, therefore making teleportation possible. In order to teleport a human being, however, trillions of atoms would have to be reproduced. Herein lies the problem.
The teleported object (or individual) would essentially be photocopied, with the original being completely discarded. The teleporter machine would have to reconstruct the object with exact precision, lest the copy have an atom out of place and an unpredictable bastardization of the original object borne. And you thought a fly getting into the hatch with you was the worst that could happen (Alright, a naked Jeff Goldblum getting in the hatch with you is actually the worst thing that could happen).
In a sense, teleportation would be like cloning, with the copy substituted for the original. According to Kaku, “If you've been destroyed and teleported, then who is that person there? They have the same memory, the same jokes, the same everything, except the original was destroyed in the process of being teleported." Would the copy be a separate human being? Would your thoughts transfer over to the duplicate? Or would you pretty much die and a recreated version of you would live your life, thinking the teleportation went off without a hitch? Multiple teleportations would mean copies of copies would run rampant. And if you’ve seen the movie Multiplicity (there’s gotta be at least 2 of you out there), then you know that copies always decrease in quality and efficacy as they multiply.
Then there’s the broader social implications of teleportation. Imagine that you could be in the Bahamas for the weekend in a milisecond and back to whatever jerkwater burg you currently call home. Boundaries would break down and perhaps even the entire notion of nationality and languange would be torn asunder. You could live in China and work in Milwaukee. Or vice versa. Tropical locales would swell with people, as they could live in paradise and visit their family in Norway or Bangladesh or Milwaukee instantaneously whenever they wanted. Mass emigration throughout planet Earth would mix all the different peoples, rearrange national allegiances and allow for the supremacy of only one or two master languages to take hold. And lastly, WHAT THE FUCK WILL HAPPEN TO MILWAUKEE??!!!
Braving rush hour and traveling at speeds less than that of light may very well be a part of your daily routine for the foreseeable future. But rest assured that our best & brightest minds are working diligently on ways to beam you up. Jiggling yourself from across a galaxy is a pretty sweet proposition. But for now, you’ll have to settle for doing it at home on the couch as usual.