Warehouse F
Is Teleportation Possible?
The Unseen Enemy
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Teleportation; “Beam Me Up Scotty!”

By James Donahue

Ever since science fiction writer Gene Roddenberry created the Star Trek stories that led to the popular television series by that name in 1966, the world has watched Captain James T. Kirk and his friends conveniently teleport themselves from their space craft to unknown planets and back again by the mere push of a button.

The possibility of teleporting objects and humans from place to place has been the subject of scientific exploration almost since the day the idea was put in the collective. Science fiction stories have been around for a long time so we don’t know if we can give Roddenberry all of the credit. What we do know is that once we have the idea, humans appear to have the ability to make it happen.

Among the early published scientific papers concerning teleportation experimentation was a revelation by IBM researchers at the 1993 meeting of the American Physical Society that quantum teleportation was possible. The report, given by Charles Bennett, noted, however, that it involved the destruction of the original subject and the assembly of its replica at the other end.

Then there was a problem dubbed the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. This principle states that you cannot know both the speed and location of an object at the same time while it is in motion, or in this case, in the midst of teleportation. And if you can’t know its position, how can it be teleported?

In 1998 a team of physicists at California Institute of Technology working with two European research groups, successfully teleported a photon, or a particle of energy carrying light. They succeeded in reading the atomic structure of the photon and sent the information through a coaxial cable and created a replica 3.28 feet away. As predicted, the original photon no longer existed. A bummer for Captain Kirk.

To make the procedure even more complicated, the Caltech team had to get around the Heinsenberg Principle. To do this they dipped into some quantum physics and used something they call entanglement. That is a technical problem calling for the use of at least three photons to successfully teleport one of them.

The point is that they teleported a photon of light, but they had to use a coaxial cable to do it. How about sending something through space without the help of a wire?

In 2002 a team of researchers at the Australian National University reported the successful teleportation of a laser beam. Then in 2006 Dr. Eugene Polzik and his team at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, teleported information stored in a laser beam into a cloud of atoms 1.6 feet away. A CBC report quoted Polzik as explaining the significance of this was that it was the first time teleportation involved both light and matter. The light carried the information and the atomic reception became     a form of a storage medium.

While researchers still have a long way to go before they can ever think of the teleportation of humans from space ships to planets, or from Detroit to Cleveland, Polzik believes the success recorded by his team promises to open the door to a “quantum communication network of the future that will revolutionize communication with computers.”

What is great about the computer interchange of information via such a network is that it will no longer depend on superposition states of 0, 1 and 2, and hold much more information than conventional bits. Consequently, all of the information coded into quantum superposition will, at least in principle, be “absolutely secure,” Polzik said.