Is Teleportation Hypothetically Possible In The Universe?

What is the chance that humans or aliens somewhere in the Universe have mastered Teleportation?

First, let’s assume it is somehow possible…

I go to the nearest teleportation station after my delicious breakfast of toaster strudel this morning (let’s say in Tampa, FL) to go back to my home (which is in Winnipeg, MB, around 2040 Kms away). I buy the ticket, stand on the pedestal and wait for the transmission to happen while I thumb through the latest copy of “Fate” magazine. The warning light flashes and I get disintegrated into millions of particles, ready to be sent to the station at the destination. Due to some bug, the assembly process doesn’t go well at the destination pedestal. AND BOOM! I’m DEAD. Worst case, the signal never reaches the destination station. I would DIE just because of a transmission error/ reception error due to bad weather or cosmic conditions. HTCP (Human Transmission Control Protocol) would have been nice.

Even if it is possible, it won’t be safe.

It is very safe to say that teleportation is NOT possible in our universe – at least not the kind of teleportation that is seen in Star Trek.  To see why let’s assume a human being weighs 70 kg. That would mean that there are at least 7*1027 atoms in the average human body (70 kg of carbon in atoms). With that one number, let’s consider each of the possible proposed teleportation technologies.

Quantum Teleportation:

The physicists or science writers who use the term “teleportation” for this quantum effect are trying for a sensational title to tout their work and to attract attention.  This quantum kind of teleportation is not really anything at all like the teleportation in Star Trek.  This is transferring the quantum state of one single particle to another single particle some distance away. The neat thing is that you can do this quantum “teleportation” even if you do not know the quantum state of the original particle. But even if this worked perfectly, you would need to apply this 7*1027 times to duplicate a human body.  However, you need a lot more than just the quantum states to be correct for each atom, you also need the get the positions of all the atoms correct. That problem is addressed in the next method, but it is safe to say that this method of teleportation is for all practical purposes impossible.

Destructive scanning of a body, transmitting the information and then reconstructing the body:

To have a scanner that can record the position of every atom in the body to an accuracy of the order of the size of a hydrogen atom would require position accuracy of about 10X1010^-10 meters. To get that accuracy over a distance of order 1 meter this would require 30 decimal digits which would be about 100 binary digits per atom.  However there would be a lot of redundancy in this data, so let’s be optimistic and assume you could compress this down to 1 bit per atom, so we still need approximately 7*1027 bits of data to just specify the positions of all the atoms in a human body. A Zettabyte is the approximate data storage capacity of all the computers and storage devices in the world today is at most a few zettabytes (1 zettabyte = 1021 bytes).  Therefore the data for the scan of one human would require roughly 10,000 times the total storage of all the data stored on earth right now.

The total traffic on the entire world wide web/internet was about 27,000 petabytes per month in 2011.  At that rate, it would take over 3 million years to transmit the bits needed to specify the positions of all the atoms in the body.

Even if you can store and transmit this data and then store it again at the destination, you still have the problem of scanning the original body and constructing the final body. The scanning of the body will probably have to be destructive since you need to essentially take the body apart to get to the inner atoms of the body.  So you had better be able to do the scanning in a very short period of time or the person will die during the scanning operation and you will end up reconstructing a dead person at the destination.  Finally, you cannot take a long time to construct the body at the destination since the early parts you construct will die while you are finishing the construction of the later parts. It is safe to say that this method of teleportation is for all practical purposes impossible.

Wormholes
Wormholes are not really teleportation, they are really a way of travelling faster than the speed of light.  So in that sense, it is better than teleportation, but is it possible?  Well, first of all, according to general relativity, a wormhole is very unstable and will quickly collapse.  The only known way to keep a wormhole open is to use a hypothetical form of matter that has negative energy density. Of course, we have never found or created any kind of matter that has a negative energy density and we have no theory that would predict how to construct the matter with the negative energy density that would be required.

Even if we could construct an object with negative energy density, that does not allow the construction of a wormhole, it would only enable us to stabilize an existing wormhole and prevent it from collapsing.  We have no known way to create wormholes in the first place. If we could somehow create a wormhole and prop it open wide enough to use it, the energy requirements would be astronomical. It would likely take more energy than the sun produces to create such a wormhole for even a few seconds. Even if we had a stabilized wormhole, the curvature of space-time in the interior of the wormhole would be very extreme and would certainly spaghettified any object trying to transverse the wormhole in the same way that black holes and their singularities tidally disrupt objects.

Finally, wormholes allow time travel which violates causality and there are good physics arguments that would say that causality violations are not permitted in our universe. Therefore there may be some fundamental physical principle that makes wormholes impossible. It is safe to say that this method of teleportation is for all practical purposes impossible.

Teleportation…No. Tele-duplication, YES, absolutely will happen in some format…

The replication of inert data patterns exists today and can be transmitted and printed in 2D and 3D formats. It hasn’t happened with organic or living matter to my knowledge, but it’s reasonable to assume that technology will progress and data patterns for the organic matter will be transmitted at some point. It will be required that an “ink cartridge” for that matter must be in place. Whether that’s some polymer or vat of goo is TBD.

The salient point is that I can fax, email or print a document in 2D or 3D, and the original document or pattern is unchanged. The paper or material at the receiving end is a replica, not a transported version of the original object. It’s a copy. If a hypothetical 3D printer had a cartridge of the organic material comprising a pig, and you had a file with the correct pattern, then you could print bacon. But once you did, you would still have the original file. On the Starship Enterprise, you’d have a vat of goo, from which you’d make bacon, but you’d still have the file bacon.cfg after you’d made breakfast.

Asimov, Heinlein, Clark and others far smarter than I have addressed this topic in ways that have captivated me for decades. A person/consciousness could transmit to the moon or an alien planet, and the duel existence of the original and transmitted copy would make for a damn fine sci-fi story.

The transmission of a copy of organic matter will be within our technical reach in the near future. The transport of a specific organic entity and its consciousness transcends technology, going to a metaphysical or religious realm that is unknowable at this point.

Summary

It is very safe to say that there is no method for teleportation of human bodies that could possibly work or be practical in our universe. Sorry, Star Trek fans a “Heisenberg Compensator” will not help you. More importantly “Toaster Strudel” is not that tasty either.

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