Some days my imagination runs amuck and I guess today was one of them.
When I get bored, my mind gets to wandering and today I was bored, really bored. I got to thinking about things – a lot of things – one of them being teleportation and all the things that could go wrong with it. Why teleportation? Because sometimes I’m an impatient person and I’m always in a hurry.
Teleportation to me is when something goes from point A to point B without walking, running, or even flying there. It does not mean you have been jettisoned into another reality, I don’t need teleportation to do that, I can do that on my own.
I see it on sci-fi all the time. Shows like Star Trek often transport cargo, people, tribbles, and trouble. They do it by disassembling molecules into an intermediate energy state and then reassembling them back together someplace else.
Teleportation has been done but so far only with subatomic particles – like electrons and photons – in a type of transport called quantum teleportation. In quantum transport, when an object is transported from point A to point B, the object isn’t actually transported. Only copies of the original are made and only the information to make that copy is transmitted. This isn’t possible (yet) to do with a human or living thing – or maybe even a big dead thing – because of the complexities and huge amounts of energy required. (Ten gigawatts of power just to move one body. Forget about moving a group of people!)
If a human was transported that way, I wonder if the copy would still be the person transported and – think about it – how would the copy feel if it knows it is only a copy of the original? That could be worrisome, maybe even lead to an inferiority complex. Anyway, I bet you would be counting your toes and maybe a few other body parts afterwards.
And then, adding to that conundrum, would there be a limit to the number of copies you could make and what variations would there be? Could you make a whole bunch of you? If there were a lot of clones of me, that would make a lot of other people, like my mother, very unhappy. She always said if she had more than one of me, she would have a nervous breakdown.
One missing or misplaced atom would be all it could take to create a problem, a very big problem. So many possible changes with so many possible resulting variations! Imagine if I were to return home after moving instantaneously through spacetime from a mall in Arizona to home in Walla Walla, Washington:
Me: “Honey, I’m home!”
My husband: “Who are you?”
Me: “It doesn’t matter. Help me carry all these packages!”
The other type of teleportation or transport, as seen in Star Trek, involves an intermediate energy phase as in:
A ==> B (intermediate phase) ==> C
Here, C would not be a copy of A. It would hopefully still be A after having its marbles (i.e. atoms and molecules) scrambled and put back together again.
This makes me wonder, what would it be like having all your particles and sub particles momentarily scrambled? Would your psyche be wondering what happened to the rest of you while you were in transit? Would you still have a consciousness? Would you be the same after transport considering your body may have lost or gained some of its energy in the process?
It could be exciting, like the ultimate roaster coaster ride, until you realized you were momentarily dead. And if you couldn’t rematerialize, what sensation, if any, would you feel as the rest of you was scattered throughout subspace or wherever you were, when you were in that intermediate energy phase? I would think that would be like being neither here nor there.
My personal identity could change. Having a sense of who you are is important, but then, there are people who have that problem without any kind of particle transport. On the other hand, maybe my physical appearance could change for the better. I could stand to knock off a few years, maybe even a decade or two. I wonder if I would smell the same? Would my dog still know me?
I don’t know the answers to these questions and I suppose neither does anyone else. Maybe someday, like in a hundred or a thousand years we will know – when teleportation of a big object like the human body becomes possible. Maybe by that time, scientists will have derived the right equations to do all of that without dubious consequences.