Beam Me Up Scotty

I love Deviant Art.
I love Deviant Art.
What do atomic bombs, the Internet, lunar landings, radar, online newspapers, tanks, virtual reality games, video chat, credit cards, scuba diving and cell phones all have in common? They were all inspired by science fiction writers. And in a related note, water beds were actually invented by Robert Heinlein as a way for burned soldiers to heal better. He never patented the idea because he felt the technology should be free to all. Had he known that they would become the go-to prop in 70’s porn films he might have felt differently. Still, thousands of burn victims have healed faster thanks to him so I guess we can put up with the occasional moan and squirt.

I know I can.

But but but you’re saying. What about all the other stuff sci-fi promised? Flying cars exist, they’re just not practical. At least not yet. Quite a few things that were mere fantasy 30 years ago are now coming to reality. Every single item listed above was once just a concept. All of them are now ubiquitous.

Elite Daily reports that scientists have discovered how to transport matter from one place to another.

Just like they used to do in Star Trek.

Dutch scientists have unlocked the secret to the sci-fi phenomenon of teleportation, successfully causing an atom to vanish and reappear nearly 10 feet away.

The Irish Times reports that a team led by Professor Ronald Hanson of Delft University conducted a demonstration in which information encoded into sub-atomic particles was teleported between two points with 100 percent accuracy for the very first time.

Hanson says that, if a particle can be teleported, there’s no reason to believe the same cannot be done for a human being.

He explained,

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. I would not rule it out because there’s no fundamental law of physics preventing it.

The technology used will be put towards creating a system of quantum computers that can process information at lightning speed compared even to today’s most advanced computers.

He said,

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. We have shown that it’s possible to do this, and it works every time that you try.

Hanson’s team entangled three particles — a nitrogen atom and two electrons — and used them to transmit quantum information between pieces of diamond three meters apart.

This information is stored on “qubits,” the quantum equivalent of the digital bit. The teleportation was really just the two points linking together, with the second point filling a void the other had left.

The professor explained that the goal is to use teleportation to create a communication system impervious to hacks.

He said,

The information is teleported to the other side, and there’s no way anyone can intercept that information. In principle it’s 100 percent secure.

The next experiment will attempt to teleport information from one building to another over 4,000 feet away.

Hanson said,

I believe it will work, but it’s a huge technical challenge — there’s a reason why nobody has done it yet.

Hanson’s findings were published in the journal Science.

The last attempt to teleport quantum information, conducted in Maryland in 2009, did have a success rate but only once every 100 million tries.

Granted were are talking about incredibly small amounts of matter but they had to start somewhere and this is an amazing beginning. If it helps, don’t think of it as moving something from one place to another. Instead think of it as being in both places simultaneously and … no that doesn’t help either dies it?

The physics behind this is so staggeringly complex it may as well be magic. But it’s not. It’s real science. And once they figure out the basics the rest is just adding mass.

In Larry Niven’s classic series, Ringworld, he posits a world wherein teleportation units would be in every city and you could just hop in one and hop out on a different part of the globe. What Professor Hanson has done has taken the first real step to making that a reality.

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