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Why Teleportation Could Be Far Slower Than Walking

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Posted August 1, 2013

It always looked so easy in the Star Trek episodes. “Two to beam up,” Captain James T. Kirk would say from the planet’s surface. A few seconds later, the officers would materialize on the Enterprise — often missing a few red-shirts that went down with them.

A new analysis says the teleportation process wouldn’t take a few seconds. It could, in fact, stretch longer than the history of the universe! “It would probably be quicker to walk,” a press release said laconically.

Students from the University of Leicester examined the time and power required to move a human being’s data through a teleporter. They assumed the data would be DNA pairs within each cell, calculated as about 1010 bits per cell! Including the person’s brain, the number of bits is staggering: 2.6 x 1042.

The time it takes to send up the person depends on the bandwidth. Assuming a rate of 29.5 to 30 GHz, the students determined sending up a person would take 350,000 times longer than the universe’s age of 14 billion years. You can view the calculations in detail in the University of Leicester’s Journal of Physics Special Topics, an annual publication featuring papers from final year masters of physics students.

Teleportation also featured in a new article in Nautilus, where writer Jennifer Ouellette concluded the amount of information in a human being would be scrambled while teleporting:

Here’s the reality check: the average human body contains roughly 1028 atoms, or more than a trillion trillion. It takes a great deal of effort to keep two particles entangled. It is extremely difficult to get more than a few atoms to vibrate together, perfectly synchronized, because of interference. In the real world, objects interact constantly with the environment, and decoherence occurs instantaneously. If I tried to teleport information about every single atom in my body via quantum entanglement, decoherence would scramble things in an instant.

For more, be sure to check out her entire article.

What are your thoughts on teleportation? Is it impossible, or is there something these analyses are missing?

Source: Universe Today, story by Elizabeth Howell

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