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Critical Thinker's Dictionary

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teleportation

Teleportation is the act or process of moving an object or person by psychokinesis. The term originated with Charles Fort, though he used it to describe magical transport between Earth and the heavens.

Since the success of the television series "Star Trek," the idea of dematerializing large objects such as human beings and reorganizing them in a distant location has been the model for teleportation in some circles. In 2004, the Air Force spent $25,000 for research to examine possible ways to teleport humans and objects through space. Physicist Eric W. Davis reported his findings in "Teleportation Physics Study."

Physicists have had some success with quantum teleportation, moving infinitesimally small particles from one place to another, but the idea of teleporting large objects à la Star Trek is not feasible.

According to physicist Phil Schewe, chief science writer at the American Institute of Physics, teleportation may prove possible in the area of data encryption but not for  beaming large objects across space.*

According to Davis, to teleport objects the size of humans would require extraordinarily high-speed computers and would consume obscene amounts of energy. The computing-encoding of the entire contents of a human body would require 1028 (the number one followed by 28 zeroes) kilobytes of computer storage capacity. It would take 1020 of the world's best commercially available hard drives "to store the encoded information of just one human being." Also, "it will take more than 2,400 times the present age of the universe to access this amount of data" from the computers. Davis writes that "to heat up and dematerialize one human being would require . .. the energy equivalent of 330 one-megaton thermonuclear bombs."

Thus, those philosophers concerned about issues such as whether consciousness would be reconstituted with the body in teleportation can safely speculate until our sun burns out without fear of being proved wrong by the facts.

further reading

Scientists teleport photons

Last updated December 24, 2013

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