What Is Teleportation?

Teleportation – also known as teletransportation or matter transmission – involves the (near) instantaneous movement of people or objects across space. Self teleportation is arguably the ultimate in psi abilities and is a staple of science fiction.

It is also one of the least documented examples of psionic ability. Even anecdotal accounts are rare.

The traditional psychic approach to teleportation is simply of “thinking” oneself to another place. This has been known by various names such as “jumping” or “jaunting”. Certain obvious questions arise: Would just the body be transported or also clothing? What about something being held? What about someone being held? How exactly would the psychic “aim” their target point?

Pure thought-driven psionic or psychic teleportation is likely to remain in the realms of science fiction. Potentially more viable is the possibility of mechanically assisted teleportation, either of people or objects, via teleporter devices. This is normally what is meant by the term “matter transmission”.

Transportation or Reproduction?

Some ideas in modern physics such as quantum mechanics and wormholes might allow for the possibility of teleportation or matter transmission. These posibilities remain theoretical and, currently, limited to the world of particle physics and not the macroscopic, large scale world which we inhabit.

Theories of teleportation usually fall into one of two camps: either 1) the object is instantly transported, or 2) it is broken down at one end, encoded, and rebuilt at the other.

Instant transportation would be preferrable, however it is difficult to reconcile such instantaneous travel with the current laws of physics except by considering wormholes or other “twists” in the fabric of space time. Effectively we would be taking “short cuts” through the universe.

Reproducing an object might be more appealing on a theoretical level. If it can be encoded then all that is being sent is information and this can travel at light speed. One disadvantage would be that such a form of teleportation would be dependent on a fixed “receiving” station and hence less flexible.

This sort of teleportation would also pose huge moral, philosophical and religious questions with regard to the transportation of human beings. Even assuming the technology exists to scan “me” in exact detail, if I’m destroyed by the machine here and recreated by the machine there… am I still me? And what about my consciousness or my “soul”, whatever that might be?

If matter transmission depended on such destruction and reproduction then it might be better to restrict its use to inanimate objects.

Quantum Teleportation

Recent scientific research has used the phenomenon of “quantum entanglement” to “teleport” individual photons. This is teleportation of the “reproduction” variety where the original photon is (indirectly) measured and then recreated. Since there are billions of photons in even the tiniest object, this form of teleportation would require a massive amount of perfectly coordinated measurements to be taken and a huge amount of information transferred without error for use on a macroscopic scale.

So the teleporter beloved of science fiction still remains a distant dream. But in some far future, might it be possible to contact the store and ask them to teleport our weekly shopping straight to our kitchen?