41: beam me up

I do a lot of driving.

My commute to work is an hour each way. I’m in a band that practices anywhere between an hour and 2 hours away from my house. I’m in a long distance relationship, separated from my significant other by 200 miles.

So, suffice to say, I’m constantly dreaming of the day that teleportation of humans and objects is possible.

This will likely remain a dream for the rest of my lifetime, and the lifetimes of many generations to come, barring some incredible new discovery that would prove some of the most optimistic futurists correct.

Researchers have actually managed to successfully teleport matter…

But only at the atomic level, and not very far. We’re talking single atoms being transported a few meters at a time.

Still, that’s pretty cool.

The full scope of what is required to perform this miracle is a little fuzzy to a non-physics type like me, but let me try to break it down for you.

Every atom of an element is identical to any other atom of the same element. So if you have an oxygen atom, it’s a literally identical copy of every other oxygen atom in existence.

What makes an atom unique, however, is its quantum state –  meaning its properties, or specifically, the state of its electrons, protons and neutrons.

Imagine the quantum of an atom as data attached to the atom, to make things simple.

So one rule of quantum mechanics is (apparently) that you cannot clone the quantum state of an atom.

Instead, what scientists have done, in a lab full of a system hundreds of complex lasers and mirrors, is transpose the quantum state of one atom, on one side of the room, to another atom of the same element on the other side of the room.

Alright, had enough?

From what I understand, because human beings are made up of billions and billions of atoms, to successfully transpose the quantum state of every individual atom in our bodies in the exact same sequence on a bunch of atoms somewhere else could result in our disintegration.

We’d essentially become a disgusting mass of gel-like matter, according to some.

Not only that, but it would take a very long time and an incomprehensible amount of energy to make even that happen.

So that’s a bummer.

My dream of getting zapped from my home to my girlfriend’s home in a matter of seconds seems a little out of reach.

But hey, two hundred years ago the world’s leading physicists were just beginning to theorize about the atom’s existence. Quantum mechanics didn’t emerge until a century later, and look at us now, teleporting atoms around the room.

I have faith in human progress, so perhaps my great-great-great-great grandchildren will be transcending space and time.

Anyway, I know some people may have been expecting part 2 of my book review of The Four Doors. I got pretty caught up in some other stuff today, so I haven’t been reading. But rest-assured, it’ll come.


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