Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Beam me off, Scotty.

A pretty major milestone in the quest for in the field of teleportation has been achieved.

Detailed here, in Scientific American, if you are interested in reading the whole article. Basically what took place (or at least was reported to have taken place) is as follows:

A group of researchers, however, report today in Science that they've made headway in quantum teleportation, and thus communication. The team, led by physics graduate student Steven Olmschenk at the University of Maryland, College Park, succeeded in teleporting quantum information between ytterbium ions (charged atoms) three feet (one meter) apart.

Now it seems a small step towards the possibility of a star trek type transporter, and really at this point the only practical use would be in the field of quantum communications, which in itself is revolutionary.

But of course it got me thinking.

If the ability to transport was readily available to the population, would you use it? Would you have an issue standing in a pod or beam that would scan you at the atomic level, disassemble you in one place and reassemble you in a new place?

There is one possible problem that has been approached before. What if the transported you is not YOU at all but a copy of you that has no idea it is just a copy as it has all the memories you entered the pod with (including getting into the pod itself).

Now what if your old you simply stops existing.

For some reason I fear something like that more than even death. At least with death it is finite and you’re dead. But the thought of myself walking around as myself but not being witness by my SELF, is terrifying. Even though I can depend that my new self will perform in much the same manner as my original self, not being PRESENT to witness it freaks me out to no end.

I mean if I stepped in and went I would never know I didn't make it, but the possibility someone else (while still being me) would probably prevent me from trying it anyway.

And here lies a similar dilemma with the afterlife debate. If you get to the afterlife and there is nothing you can't tell anyone. If you go and there is something you still can't tell anyone. AND in the rare case where you are brought back from what you think was the afterlife. You still cannot be certain it was not a product of the lack of O2 or similar phenomenon. You can't know if you have eternal life after death without staying there.

As in the afterlife in teleportation, no matter how many people have done it you cannot say for sure the actual person perceiving the end result made it through.

So again I ask. Would you dare walk into one of these devices willingly?