Two to Beam Up

By on June 17, 2004

Remember a few months back when photons were successfully teleported? Well, they’ve done it with atoms now.

In quantum teleportation, the sender, normally called Alice, instantaneously transfers information about the quantum state of a particle to a receiver called Bob. The uncertainty principle means that Alice cannot know the exact state of her particle. However, another feature of quantum mechanics called “entanglement” means that she can teleport the state to Bob.

I’m not real sure what all that means, but I’m sure that soon they’ll be able to do this with multiple atoms at the same time. I think we’ve all seen The Fly enough times to understand how many ways this technology can go wrong.

If they’re going to start building Star Trek contraptions, let’s start with a holodeck. Wouldn’t you rather your garage looked like the moon than risk a trip to the moon in a teleporter?

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  1. When you think about the theory of teleporting, you really boil down to the fact that you’re doing one of two things:

    Theory #1: Taking something and transporting it to somewhere else. The thing that started in Point A is ending up in Point B. This is the “classic” perception of teleporting — the way everyone assumes it would be done.

    Theory #2: Taking something and destroying it at Point A, then telling some other device how to create a perfect replica of it at Point B. So the thing that started at Point A never gets to Point B — the thing that appears at Point B is just a perfect copy.

    Everything I’ve seen about teleportation that they’re doing lately tells me that they’re concentrating on option #2. That said, I’m never teleporting anywhere (because it’s such a viable option, you know…). The idea of destroying and recreating myself just doesn’t sit well with me.

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