I travel a great deal for work (I should say I used to, before the covid-19 pandemic). Airplanes and airports are fine, but wouldn’t it be great if the Star Trek Transporter really existed? I mean, so much of Star Trek’s sci-fi technology is now a reality – tricorders, replicators, high tech visors, talking computers, flip phone communicators, and much more. But the TRANSPORTER – now that would be incredible. For my work I travel around the planet looking at and for new products. Some high tech, some low tech, all of them innovative—but so far I haven’t found anything like the amazing Transporter.
Unfortunately, the laws of the Universe make it impossible to “beam” someone from New York to Paris. It’s just a science fiction dream. Or is it?
Now, I’m not going to get into the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle or Star Trek’s work-around, the Heisenberg Compensator, but let me try to explain in plain English where teleportation technology is today and what it might mean for us in our lifetime.
Stay with me on this. It’s going to get a little geeky. I’m going to mention the word “quantum.” For our purposes, think about quantum bits or quantum information as just really tiny particles and you’ll get the picture.
A few years ago, physicists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands were able to move quantum information between two quantum bits separated by about 10 feet. In other words, they were able to teleport data between two points. What’s important is that we can now envision the day when information – emails, text, images, etc – can be teleported from New York to Paris—very quickly and without wires or a radio signal.
The main application scientists are currently working on in this field is to create a quantum version of the internet. One result nearest to a real-life application is secure communication. If it is successful, your data is teleported from one place to another, there’s no way for anyone to intercept it because it doesn’t run along a wire. In principle it would be 100% secure. From banking transactions to private contracts to sexting, you name it, it’s secure.
Unfortunately, teleporting large objects, much less humans, is beyond our current knowledge. But don’t let that bum you out. I’m investigating wormhole technology and I’ll let you know if I come up with anything useful there. There’s got to be a way to avoid delayed flights, changed gates and baggage claim. Until then, happy trails.