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For other uses, see Teleportation (disambiguation).

Teleportation, or Teletransportation, is the theoretical transfer of matter or energy from one point to another without traversing the physical space between them. It is a common subject of science fiction literature, film, and television.


The word teleportation was coined in 1931[1][2] by American writer Charles Fort to describe the strange disappearances and appearances of anomalies, which he suggested may be connected. He joined the Greek prefix tele- (meaning "distant") to the Latin verb portare (meaning "to carry").[citation needed] Fort's first formal use of the word was in the second chapter of his 1931 book, Lo!: "Mostly in this book I shall specialize upon indications that there exists a transportory force that I shall call Teleportation," commenting that, "I shall be accused of having assembled lies, yarns, hoaxes, and superstitions. To some degree I think so myself. To some degree, I do not. I offer the data."[3] Fort also suggested that teleportation might explain various allegedly paranormal phenomena.[citation needed]

The word teletransportation, which expands Fort's abbreviated term, was first employed by Derek Parfit as part of a thought exercise on identity.[citation needed]


The earliest recorded story of a "matter transmitter" was Edward Page Mitchell's "The Man Without a Body" in 1877.[4]

The Star Trek transporter, which brought the concept of teleportation in everyone's living room (albeit only in imaginary form), two essential stages of the process are dematerialization and rematerialization; created in an era before any CGI was possible, the visual effects communicating these processes to the spectators "were created by dropping tiny bits of aluminum foil and aluminum perchlorate powder against a black sheet of cardboard, and photographing them illuminated from the side by a bright light. [...] In the studio lab, after the film was developed, the actors were superimposed fading out and the fluttering aluminum fading in, or vice versa."[5] According to an informal survey carried out by Lawrence M. Krauss on his campus "the number of people in the United States who would not recognize the phrase 'Beam me up, Scotty' is roughly comparable to the number of people who have never heard of ketchup."[6]

In his book, The Physics of Star Trek, after explaining the difference between transporting information and transporting the actual atoms, Krauss notes that "The Star Trek writers seem never to have got it exactly clear what they want the transporter to do. Does the transporter send the atoms and the bits, or just the bits?" He notes that according to the canon definition of the transporter the former seems to be the case, but that that definition is inconsistent with a number of applications, particularly incidents, involving the transporter, which appear to involve only a transport of information, for example the way in which it splits Kirk into two version in the episode "The Enemy Within" or the way in which Riker is similarly split in the episode "Second Chances".[7]

Information-only teleportation[edit]

Krauss notes that there are serious practical challenges in the process of transforming a "light adult" weighting 50 kilograms "into pure energy": "one would release the energy equivalent of somewhere in excess of a thousand 1-megaton hydrogen bombs. It is hard to imagine how to do this in an environmentally friendly fashion."[8]

He also notes that if this process of information-only teleportation were possible, then replicating people "would be much easier than transporting them, since the destruction of the original subject would then not be necessary."[9] Krauss writes that replicating people would raise ethical issues that would make those involving recombinant DNA pale in comparison: "People would be like computer programs, or drafts of a book kept on disk. If one of them gets damaged or has a bug, you could simply call up a backup version."[10]

A short paper published in 2012 estimates the amount of time that would take to transmit all the information needed to reconstruct a brain at quantum level using current transmission technology to 1015 years. The calculation assumes that the amount of information to be sent is given by the Bekenstein bound of any brain-sized object (about 1042 bits) and assumes a transmission speed of approximately 1019 bits per second.[11]

Matter teleportation[edit]

Krauss writes that in order to "dematerialize" something in order to achieve matter teleportation, the binding energy of the atoms and probably that of all its nuclei would have to be overcome. He notes that the binding energy of electrons around nuclei is minuscule relative to binding energy that hold nuclei together. He notes that "if we were to heat up the nuclei to about 1000 billion degrees (about a million times hotter than the temperature at the core of the Sun), then not only would the quarks inside lose their binding energies but at around this temperature matter will suddenly lose almost all of its mass. Matter will turn into radiation—or, in the language of our transporter, matter will dematerialize. [...] In energy units, this implies providing about 10 percent of the rest mass of protons and neutrons in the form of heat. To heat up a sample the size of a human being to this level would require therefore, about 10 percent of the energy needed to annihilate the material—or the energy equivalent of a hundred 1-megaton hydrogen bombs."[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Lo!: Part I: 2". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  2. ^ "less well-known is the fact that Charles Fort coined the word in 1931" in Rickard, B. and Michell, J. Unexplained Phenomena: a Rough Guide special (Rough Guides, 2000 (ISBN 1-85828-589-5), p.3)
  3. ^ Mr. X. "Lo!: A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book". Resologist.net. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  4. ^ "Teleportation in early science fiction". The Worlds of David Darling. Retrieved 2014-02-04. 
  5. ^ David Darling (29 April 2005). Teleportation: The Impossible Leap. John Wiley & Sons. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-471-71545-0. 
  6. ^ Mieke Schüller (2 October 2005). Star Trek - The Americanization of Space. GRIN Verlag. p. 5. ISBN 978-3-638-42309-0. 
  7. ^ Lawrence M. Krauss (1995), The Physics of Star Trek, Basic Books, ISBN 978-0465002047, pp. 67-68
  8. ^ Lawrence M. Krauss (1995), The Physics of Star Trek, Basic Books, ISBN 978-0465002047, pp. 70
  9. ^ Lawrence M. Krauss (1995), The Physics of Star Trek, Basic Books, ISBN 978-0465002047, pp. 70
  10. ^ Lawrence M. Krauss (1995), The Physics of Star Trek, Basic Books, ISBN 978-0465002047, pp. 70-71
  11. ^ https://physics.le.ac.uk/journals/index.php/pst/article/view/558/380
  12. ^ Lawrence M. Krauss (1995), The Physics of Star Trek, Basic Books, ISBN 978-0465002047, pp. 71-73

Further reading[edit]

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