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Why Can’t I Just Teleport Already?

Good God, do I hate airports. It should, by all means, not be a problem going through security and getting on an airplane. And it wouldn’t be, if it weren’t for all those people. It should be simple: take off your shoes, put your bag on the belt, make sure you don’t have any metal on you. Many have a tough time grasping the concept of that last one. You know those keys you have in your pocket? Yeah, those are metal.

Do I need to take this off?

Fortunately, I have a solution. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been invented yet.

Let’s talk about teleportation.

I realize that I have an unlikely (if not impossible) dream of being able to instantaneously zap myself to the other side of the world, but ever since I saw my first episode of Star Trek as a kid, I’ve been obsessed. What scientists have achieved thus far is a transference of information between two separate atoms: using a high-frequency laser pulse, scientists triggered atoms to emit photons in just the right way to put the atoms into a quantum state, called “entanglement”. Once in this state, the information held in the first atom disappeared and was transferred to the other atom, even though they were in separate, vacuum-sealed chambers. [via Time.com]

So all the single atoms (now put your hands up) are having a great time teleporting, but we humans are much further away from instantaneous travel. Considering we have about 10^28 atoms in our bodies (that’s a trillion trillion), managing to copy all of that information and transfer it to an equal number of atoms in a different location seems like an impossible task. First of all, if one single atom was out of place in the brain, it could mean devastating brain damage. Second, even if this transfer of data was successful, it would be like cloning more than teleporting…and the original copy would be destroyed. You know, like The Sixth Day, except for real. And I’m sure we could use Ahnold as a guinea pig. [via HowStuffWorks.com]

For those who don’t want to hear me whine about personal trivialities, skip the next paragraph and go to the one after, which has some fun stuff about superpowers.

I’m writing right now at gate 67A in LAX, a place I’ve visited twice in the past three days. Due to a mix of family events and work pulling me toward two different cities, I’ve found myself flying across the country about once every 24 hours. My itinerary: Friday night, Los Angeles→Detroit. Sunday morning, Detroit→Los Angeles. Monday night, Los Angeles→Detroit. Here’s what that would look like on a flight map:

Now, wouldn’t that be easier if it was just *BAMF* instead of three flights in four days?

This is why when people ask me, “what superpower would you choose?”, I always say teleportation. Wanna be a hero? Just Hiro Nakamura somebody’s ass into a buried coffin, or bamf all around the room and kick the crap out of your confused opponents. Wanna be a villain? It’s as simple as teleporting into and out of a bank safe. Wanna just be a regular dude? You can travel anywhere you want for free. And you’d make one hell of a pizza delivery guy.

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19 comments

  • Does it mean I am not bright enough to comment on this contribution if I found some of the comments as thought-provoking as the article itself?!?
    I am going to play it safe and stick to what I have “learned” about this topic my whole life…from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series!
    That would cover having to clearly convey your destination–telepathically, awesome–to your mode of transport–a dragon, DOUBLE awesome–and add the perils of going “Between!”

  • Teleportation is the only other superpower I’d want besides telekinesis. But (and this is from Jumper, which despite it sucking as a movie, presented a “realistic” view of teleportation) you have to know and have seen your target in order to teleport there. It doesn’t involve making quantum copies, though (which gets messy), but rather you are your own personal wormhole generator.

    I’d sooner pick telekinesis over teleportation, though.

  • Hey “Gary myers” didn’t leave a link to HIS blog. I am surprised, cuz from his totally NOT lame and sarcastic comment, it must be AMAZINGLY FABULOUS FANTASTIC!

  • Wow you watch the same shows on sci as I do. Why didn’t I think of writing down the gist of a show for my blog. That would take so much of the work out of having ideas. Thanks!

  • @Cameron: I’ve thought of that myself…just taking the DBZ powers. Flight, super-strength, teleportation, awesome balls of energy (out of your hands, not in your pants). The logistics are questionable as far as teleportation goes. I mean, even Nightcrawler has to see/know where he’s going (usually)

    @cassicost: Thanks! I like your blog, too! I actually had a similar thought that you did with your “too old for the internet” post: http://blog.itag.com/76/im-getting-too-old-for-this/

  • Props on the beyonce ()s and the flight path image. Teleportation is such a sore subject. Totally cool with not having a flying car, a robot maid/butler, or a machine that instantly does my hair in the morning (yikes- were those all Jetsons influenced?) but the no teleportation thing really gets my goat.

  • I always thought that teleportation would be achieved through bending the space-time continuum.

    And why aren’t we driving flying cars yet?

    The year 2000 was supposed to be soooo awesome.

  • The REAL issue with teleportation is do you actually take a person apart and send them across space or do you just make a copy at the other end and destroy the 1st copy?
    When it comes to simplicity and use of power the latter is much, much easier and requires much less power.

  • @Andy Neuenshwander: But what if superpower teleportation was like in Dragon Ball Z where Goku has to know someone at the place? Would you still be happy with that…. I would rather kamehameha!

  • Dude- YES. I, too, have been obsessed with teleportation since childhood! Especially when I moved to the west coast for a few years. Or every time I have get on a bus because the arguably nicer trains are too expensive for my non-profit-employed broke ass. I have been begging the world’s scientists for years to get crackin’ on this! (Albeit, in my mind)

    I would definitely choose this as my superpower. It would kinda be like Disapporating, but without the discomfort (so I’m told).

  • I’d rather have the do-anything-my-mind-can-fathom superpower which includes teleportation(and why am I getting the red line below teleportation? it’s gotta be a word).

  • Well along with all of the most common super powers of favorite. I would go a bit outside the box and pick the power of ultimate persuasion. Its alot cooler then it sounds. It’s like convincing people of anything I want with just the right combination of words and body language to make them believe anything I say. Now this sounds like mind control but its not, more of just subtle version of it. I would actually have to interact with people. Now I would pick that or pick the super power that platypi have right now. They have a 6th sense (no joke) called electro location, platypi can use there little bills to sense electro magnetic fields, which means the second one of there predators moves a muscle literary contracts a muscle the platypi know what direction that muscle is headed. Its like a literal super power except its contained in a glorified beaver.