This is a guest post by Dick Pelletier which appeared on his blog Positive Futurist last Tuesday.
Teleportation: forget planes, trains and cars; just beam me there
Driverless cars, auto-fly aircars, supersonic maglev trains, and hyperspace planes all hold great promise to become main stream in the decades ahead as our technology-rich 21st century unfolds.
What’s next? Rapidly moving from the realm of science-fiction to real science, teleportation is about to join this futuristic list of transportation options. Beaming humans from point A to point B could one day become the most efficient travel mode of all.
The following list reveals milestones achieved in teleportation development:
1993 – IBM’s Charles Bennett was the first to prove that teleportation is possible.
1998 – Caltech physicists turned the IBM idea into reality by teleporting a photon.
2002 – Australian National University successfully teleported a laser beam.
2006 – Denmark scientists beamed information stored in a laser beam into a cloud of atoms.
2010 – University of Queensland theorists propose a Star Trek-like system; design due next year.
Most people were first introduced to teleportation in the Star Trek TV series, whereCaptain Kirk beamed away to his many hair-raising adventures. We were fascinated watching Kirk step on the transporter, disappear, and instantly reappear at the destination.
Challenges to human teleportation are enormous. Scientists must first create a machine that can pinpoint, analyze, and store information from quintillions of atoms and digital bits that make up the human body, including consciousness, which today still remains a mystery.
This machine must then transmit all this data at the speed of light to another location where an exact replica would be created and the old body dematerialized. However, after being teleported, some may wonder “Is this new body that’s supposed to be me, really me; or is it possible that some memories or personality traits got lost in the transition?”
Forward-thinkers believe all these issues will be solved with future technologies. Molecular nanotech expected by mid-2020s, will enable devices that can store the colossal amounts of data created during the process. Also, powerful future computers will process the information needed to capture every atom in a human body; and aided by nanobots, will accurately rebuild that body insuring that nothing gets lost in the transfer.
Growing numbers of physicists now believe that human teleportation will happen. IBM’sBennett says that scientists will scan a person using an advanced MRI system and transmit that scanned information somewhere else to be reassembled into an exact replica of the original person.
Futurists predict that teleportation technologies will advance exponentially. By as early as the 2030s, we could be teleporting information; and sometime during the last half of this century, the first humans might step onto a transporter and beam themselves to a point on or off the Earth; or to the local grocery store.
“Computer, beam me to Albertson’s.” You toss groceries into a ‘smart’ cart that automatically bills your bank. When finished, just beam yourself and the cart to your kitchen; put the groceries away; then beam the cart back to the store. This sounds wild, but it could one day become routine as researchers speed development of this radical technology.
Are we headed for a teleportation future? If we blend tomorrow’s nanotechnology and artificial intelligence with human ingenuity, the answer is yes.
Dick Pelletier's blog Positive Futurist is one of my favorite resources on future topics, and I highly recommend that you check out some of his other articles: