Teleportation Breakthrough


I’m unapologetically delighted by all things science fiction and am fascinated by life imitating art (as are, I suspect, most sci-fi nuts). I often listen to KQED when I’m working out in the morning and imagine my surprise and delight when a segment on the teleportation of atoms accompanied my elliptical run. Apparently — and a caveat here: I’m merely intrigued by quantum mechanics rather than knowledgable on the subject — a few teams of scientists around the world have managed to teleport the characteristics of one atom to another about a meter away, in effect encouraging a separate atom to become identical to the original.

The really creepy wonder of it, for me anyway, is the idea of “superposition” (where an atom is in both quantum states at the same time) and, like Schrödinger’s cat, actually being in one state or the other doesn’t occur until the atom is physically measured. In effect, the atom is in an unknowable state until the very act of being measured forces it into one or the other. Ya, it boggles.

The application of this new technology is currently reserved for progressing quantum computing (not having to actually move bits — or qubits here — from one place to another in order to communicate would be a slick speed boost for the internet), and thusly is unfortunately not even close to being able to teleport a human. I mean, there are 7 billion billion billion (7×1027) atoms in the average human being and imagine a computer having to read and record the state of all of those atoms and then simultaneously write that state on a separate set of 7 billion billion billion atoms on Mars. Lieutenant Barclay would _not_ be comfortable with that.

I’m sure I’m missing a trillion thousand conditions and features of such a state transfer, so I think I might just go back to reading about mockingbird eggs or what Wil Wheaton did for his birthday…