Term Paper: Transporter Technology

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Transporter Technology

Transferring light over a beam and duplicating the information held in the original light beam at the receiving end is a reality today, but it is a far cry from the original concept of the transporter made popular by the TV series 'Star Trek' or the matter transference machine in the movie "The Fly," created by writers George Langelaan and James Clavell, and made famous by Vincent Price.

Teleportation today means sending the properties of light particles, with no delay, over long distances to other light particles. Quantum teleportation is based on the phenomenon which can be found only in the world of the quantum atom, where not matter, but parts of photons are transferred which contain properties, not matter, and these photons become the properties they carry on the receiving end of the transfer. Up till now scientists have had this kind of success with light particles and sometimes with whole atoms, but not yet with larger objects.

Copying an object or information is not an appropriate description of transportation technology and it never was. What scientists have aimed to do and are doing now is transfering the original information to the other end of the distance. In this case the original loses its properties and appears as its original self on the other end. This can only exist in quantum mechanics, where all the properties of a particle are lost and given to another particle.

Matter itself is completely irrelevant. If swap all my carbon atoms for other carbon atoms, I am still Anton Zeilinger," says the scientist, Anton Zeilinger about his work and his goals. He maintains that even though the human body loses and replaces all of its cells almost daily, we remain with the same properties, based on the order of the atoms that make a person who he or she is. The atoms are unimportant in this case, it is the characteristics and the order of the atoms which are important. This is the basis of teleportation, in which the original is actually being transferred (Zeilinger 1).

Background information

When one thinks of a transporter, the teleporter in the Star Trek television program, during the 50s and 60s was the original one, conceived of by a writer of the series. In the original Star Trek series a technology was requested by Gene Roddenberry which would help him eliminate scenes of passengers boarding a space ship, traveling, arriving at destinations and then landing on a foreign planet on which the episodic tale unfolds, by creating a transporter machine which disassembles the actor's atoms in one place and puts them down somewhere else in one deft scene. The words "Beam me up, Scotty" bring back images of lightning-fast transportation from one planet to another which makes travelers on earth long for the same mechanism.

The fictional transporter in the science fiction series had four parts, the Scanner which took a precise picture of each molecule and atom of the body, the Energizer, which removed the molecules and atoms and changed them into a stream of light or matter, a Pattern Buffer which held the stream of particles until it was ready to be sent, and the Emitter Pad Arrays which focused the stream at the destination and reassembled them into their original form.

In actual practice teleportation, as achieved by researchers at California Institute of Technology, University of Wales in England and Aarhus University in Demark, is able to transport photons or light particles. This is made possible through a quantum mechanical rule which overrule the Newtonian physics in the nanosciences. Called "quantum entanglement," itr occurs when two particle twins from a single sub-atomic particle is created. These twins will always be the opposite in quantum properties, no matter how far from each other they are. So when you send one-half of an input beam somewhere else and change its quantum properties through measuring the quantum state and combining the signal with the second half, it recreated the original input state at the receiver end. In Canberra, Australia the researchers described their experiment:

The researchers couldn't directly measure the key characteristics of the laser beam they wanted to replicate, so they turned to a process called entanglement. In entanglement, characteristics of tiny particles -- like the photons that make up laser beams -- can be mirrored in a second set of particles. So researchers can make their measurements on a second laser beam that was entangled with the first. The measurements are then sent by radio waves to the receiving station, which exactly replicates the first beam that was destroyed in the process of entanglement (O'Connor, 1).

This is just the beginning of a kind of transporter which has never been available before. Though it does not transport matter, it can transport data, which is the beginning of a new kind of teleportation.

Problem Statement

When teleportation is experimented with, the researchers can experimentally demonstrate continuous-variable teleportation through quantum physics in a state considered to be a "no-cloning limit." They teleport a coherent state to achieve fidelity of 0.70 $pm$0.02, which surpasses the no-cloning 2/3 limit. Surpassing this limit is necessary for transferring a nonclassical "input quantum state." They also demonstrated "entanglement swapping." That is, they switched parts of one thing for another, as an example of nonclassical transfer (Takei 2005 Abstract).

The problem of future quantum mechanics is to use this information to transport matter. In 2005, the U.S. Air Force devoted $25,000 to researching the possibility of "energizing" humans across long distances. The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio's propulsion research laboratory commissioned the study to assess the possibility of transporting troops, tanks and supplies across the world through the quantum mechanics process which was then being explored in laboratories around the world.

NBC News and Tom Costello made fun of the prospect and labeled the expense incurred in the "fantasy" prospect as ludicrous. The organization hired to investigate it, Warp Drive Metrics' report showed that "we are still very far away from being able to entangle and teleport human beings and bulk inanimate objects." Col. Mike Heil, who is in charge of the laboratory, said it is still 30 years in the future as a possibility. The Air Force then made the decision not to invest any more money in the study of this means of transportation (Costello, 2005).

Who then should finance the investigation into what appears to be a possible means of transportation of, if not humans, then objects as fast as the speed of light? Research centers at Universities all over the world are still going ahead with research toward solving the problem of how to transport matter at the speed of light.


The assumptions in moving ahead with solving this sort of problem are that, first, the problem has the possibility of being solved; and second, that it is either practically or financially worthwhile solving the problem.

It is true that the possibility exists for transporting matter through directing streams of photons through space with information embedded in them. Whether the process can be used for disentangling and reconstructing matter has yet to be proven, but already information has been transported and this is the beginning of the solution.

The second part of the question of whether the solution is a worthwhile cause is easy to answer. The instantaneous transportation of matter, no matter how small, through beams of light would enhance our present communication and transportation system so much that almost any amount of financing might be warranted.

A secondary question and one related to the development of a transporter, is the ability to send matter, information or even light for long distances at a sufficiently fast rate of speed. The 'Star Wars" movies describe space ships traveling at "Warp Speed," which would be as necessary as the ability to transport matter, in order for the teleporter to send matter over long distances or through space. However, Warp speed has not yet been attained, though in the minds of humans everywhere, it is the "overdrive" of the speed of light and most people have no doubt that superluminal speed will one day be achieved.

Analysis of Alternatives

There are several principles upon which a teleporter or materials transporter would be based, if it is built upon current research theories. The first theory upon which a transporter would be based is the quantum entanglement theory which might be explained by stating subatomic particles are related to each other by quantum entanglement and measuring or changing one affects the other, even over long distances. No one is able to explain how or why this is so, but it is true for some, but not all, particles. Those excepted are the particles in chemical or physical matter. Therefore, the principle of entanglement may not be used for transporting chemical or physical objects, such as living matter.

What is actually transported in the current research is information written by the pattern of photons, which are subatomic particles which may… [END OF PREVIEW]

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