Friday, August 30, 2013

Teleportation - Do You Have "Transporter Psychosis"?

Since the early days of modern sci-fi, one of the Holy Grails concerning our hopes for the future always has been to one day possess the ability to transport an object, or even a person, from point A to point B instantly… aka, teleportation.
But is it possible? And if it is, is it practicable?
The franchise that popularized teleportation the most was Star Trek; which according to lore, teleportation was developed sometime during the 22nd century. But in reality, who knows if teleportation will be ready 150 years from now, or not. Today, in the early 21st century, teleportation has been accomplished, but only on the sub-atomic level, teleporting a whole Federation “away team” is another matter altogether.

Like a glorified fax machine, a teleported object would be scanned, most likely destroying the original, and then transporting the information to the desired location, where an exact copy would be constructed out of the same kinds of atoms, in the same pattern. Assuming the copy was a living organism, it would, in theory, never know that it was not the original, unless told.

On Star Trek, teleportation is accomplished via the “transporter” or the “trans-locator”, as referred to by one species on Star Trek Voyager… But we will spare my co-host Jacob O’Neal’s sanity for now, and not get into the puerility of Voyager at this time... 


On Trek it is implied that the person being transporter is moved alone the transporter beam itself, and reconstructed in a different location. In reality, this would be less likely, as the original object would be destroyed, or perhaps preserved during the initial scanning, with a doppelgänger being constructed atom-by-atom in the new desired location. Teleportation is really more of a form of long-distant replication.
Yet, it is still fun to imagine that people and things, could be de-atomized here, with the original preserved and reconstructed there… and maybe someday that will indeed be occurring, but maybe not by the 2150s when the crew of the NX-01 Enterprise considered the technology new.

 Teleportation has manifested itself in sci-fi in many ways; everything from Star Trek as stated above, leading us to believe in the amazing possibilities of the future; to the horrific consequences seen in the 1986 movie remake of The Fly; and even in the science fiction and fantasy book series that I am currently writing (Tales of Cydonia), I deal with a form of teleportation in the second installment in the series; in which teleportation is used to travel through both space and time...

But whatever the case may be, teleportation gives us unique possibilities, both good and bad, which makes it very fun to think about.
OK, but the real question is, if the societies in the Star Trek universe could develop a transporter/trans-locator/teleporter by the 22nd century; then why has apparently no one developed it in the world of Star Wars, when their super-advanced interplanetary society had been around for 25,000 years by the time Luke Skywalker was born? I mean, instead of having a long drawn out battle against the Death Star, they could have just flown within teleportation range, and “beamed” a nuke into the core of the main reactor! I guess, the rebel alliance preferred to rely on a species of pre-industrial and pre-agricultural woodland bears to defeat the evil empire instead. Which I would have been OK with if Lucas had not taken the totally awesome Ewok victory song out of the end of the original version of Episode VI, replacing it with the total crap “more epic” sounding song in the final scene for the special edition DVD release…

Wait… what were we talking about, oh, right… teleportation.

Whatever the case may be; if the efforts of scientists pursing real-life teleportation produce for good or ill, and prove possible or not, teleportation is a staple of sci-fi. From causing a man to mutate with fly DNA, to being used as a means to transport super heroes even faster around the world as portrayed in The Justice League Unlimited animated show, or accidently creating a Commander Riker doppelgänger as seen in Star Trek The Next Generation, who then went on to join the rebels fighting the Federation as well as the Cardassian Empire; as seen in Star Trek Deep Space Nine… teleportation is here to stay, at least in the land of sci-fi.

And who knows, maybe someday the words of Commander La Forge from Star Trek The Next Generation as he spoke to the OCD ridden Lieutenant Barclay will come true… “Transporting really is the safest way to travel.”

In the meantime, I am going to watch Star Wars again and wonder why after 25,000 years they don’t have replicators or holodecks either…


Isaac Hulke; co-host of The Science of Fiction with co-host Jacob O’Neal

PS  Be sure to listen to Jacob O’Neal and Isaac Hulke’s next podcast episode coming mid-September all about the science, and science fiction, of teleportation.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Episode 2: Stop Cloning Around!

Cloning. It's a subject that has always interested Jacob and Isaac. For Episode 2, they discuss the history of cloning, they talk about movies dealing with subject and they get off track from time to time.

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