'Star Trek' style teleportation might be possible, says physicist

Scientists achieve reliable quantum teleportation for the first time with tiny bits of data. Will you be sent next?

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Teleportation is possible today! If you're smaller than a particle and traveling only a few feet. Video Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

This week, physicists at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands led by Ronald Hanson reported that they sent quantum data from one electron to another, seemingly unconnected electron 10 feet away. And then they did it again. And again. For the first time, the researchers were able to achieve this quantum teleportation over and over with a 100 percent success rate.

Reliable quantum teleportation has huge implications for the world of physics, including disproving Albert Einstein's doubts about the validity of quantum mechanics.

But more importantly for those of us who like to think that we operate on a larger-than-quantum level, the revelation means that our descendants could one day actually be beamed up in a way similar to what the late Gene Roddenberry envisioned.

''If you believe we are nothing more than a collection of atoms strung together in a particular way, then in principle it should be possible to teleport ourselves from one place to another," Hanson told the Telegraph. ''In practice it's extremely unlikely, but to say it can never work is very dangerous...I would not rule it out, because there's no fundamental law of physics preventing it."

Hanson added that if we ever do figure out how to teleport ourselves around, it will likely be far in the future.

Right now, Hanson's team has been able only to teleport information about the state of a particle 10 feet, so you might say we could be getting ahead of ourselves to make the mental leap to imagine transmitting ourselves across millions of miles of space. But science and imagination tend to have a co-dependent relationship that sometimes changes the world, but more often just leads to really bad fan fiction.

Either way, if Hanson is right, then another science fiction anachronism has just become a little bit more science and a little less fiction.

The researchers are also pushing forward -- they're planning to try to nail down quantum teleportation over a distance of a few hundred feet this summer.

Someone really needs to come up with some great ethereal sound effects to accompany their experiments, or at least hire a guy to shout "energizing!" in both Dutch and English.

 

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