If you’ve seen an episode of the TV show “Star Trek” in any of its iterations, then you’re at last passingly familiar with the concept of teleportation.
Here’s how it works in science fiction: People stand on a type of platform and they’re beamed from one place to another. A person can travel millions of miles (or even light years) in seconds, transporting from one spaceship or planet to another. Take a look of this example from the original “Star Trek”:
Imagine the possibilities! With that kind of technology, you could travel from New York to Los Angeles in a split second. Or Washington to Beijing in a second and a half. It would literally revolutionize travel and our concepts of time and space.
But “Star Trek” is just a television show. If we want to travel great distances, we have no choice but to board a plane or train, or hop behind the wheel of our car and get there in hours or even days. Granted, it’s slow, but it still beats the old days when travel from one coast to another could take weeks, even months, and such trips were often fraught with danger.
First of all, let’s consider exactly what teleportation is, courtesy of Ancient Origins:
“Teleportation involves materializing a material object, converting it to energy, then re-materializing that same object in another location. The idea is a combination of telecommunications and transportation.”
For at least a decade and a half, scientists have been busy working on making transportation a reality. In fact, as far back as 1993, the scientific world told us such a thing is indeed possible:
“An international group of six scientists affirmed that perfect teleportation as a principle is possible. In fact, teleportation has already been achieved with photons, light fields, nuclear spins, and trapped ions.”
In other words, it can be done, it just hasn’t been. At least not yet. But then again, it kind of has been.
A decade after that group of scientists gave us the tantalizing tease that yes, the idea of teleportation is indeed within the realm of possibility, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) made another giant step when they built a quantum computer and in doing so they were able to teleport information across the space of a computer chip.
Granted, moving information across a computer chip is a long way from transporting a human body across time and space. But then again, even the most amazing advances started as small steps.
Now let’s get a better idea of how information is moved in a quantum computer. Without getting too far into the weeds, consider this bit of quantum theory:
“The scientists used the entanglement property of quantum physics to repeatedly teleport information. This is where two particles form a connection where any interaction with one particle affects the other – even if they are separated by vast distances.”
Heavy stuff, but it has applications when it comes to “Star Trek” teleportation, too. See, that one advance made possible another step forward in 2017, when quantum teleportation moved out of the lab and the scientific world sent a photon into space. From lab to space to…what? That remains the unanswered question, but it’s the kind of query that could indeed lead us directly to moving physical objects from one place to another in the future.
And there’s also a connection between teleportation and the ancient world, as highly illogical as that might sound (to borrow a phrase from Mr. Spock.)
Ancient texts have instances of deities traveling via teleportation by using various devices. True, those are just myths, but many things that were once myth, legend, or science fiction are now very real and contain valuable truths we can still learn from, even thousands of years later.
There’s no way to know for certain how close or how far we may be from actual teleportation. But if it can be done in a lab, and then in space, doesn’t it stand to reason that one day it will be done with objects and people, the way it did on “Star Trek”? Stranger things have happened and can happen again.
For more on quantum teleportation, watch this video:
Featured Image Via YouTube Screenshot