Teleport Me

In Possession, technology plays a huge supporting role, both in the Goodgrounds and the Badlands.  Vi’s father invented a lot of it, mostly having to do with security and mind control. However, the one technology that’s always fascinated me (and would be the most handy to have) is the teleporter.Violet says she was lucky to grow up with one in her home. (Imagine that?)

What is teleportation? Well, the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (yes, there is such a thing, and yes, I own one) defines teleportation as:

…as the ability to move people or objects from one place to another by MATTER TRANSMISSION; ie, using scientific equipment to transmit items in the form of information-carrying waves, which at the destination are reconstituted into matter.

(There’s also a definition for moving yourself around by the power of mind alone, but we’ll stick with the tech approach today.)

The Encyclopedia cites the transporter on Star Trek as a “particularly implausible version” of teleportation because there’s no transmitting equipment at the destination end.  That is, there’s nothing to rescramble the information into solid objects.  However, science doesn't always dictate storytelling (especially on TV). Gene Roddenberry (the creator of Star Trek) had the character used transporters to get around because he didn’t have the budget for Enterprise to land on every planet.

So, like faster-than-light starships and time machines, teleportation often serves as a narrative short cut to overcome the real limitations of time and space so you can tell a story. 

In actuality, human teleportation may be implausible because (a) traveling at the speed of light (which this would require) breaks the laws of physics as we know them, (b) copying a living body might be extremely tricky (a few molecules out of place and you're a turnip, brain-wise), and (c) transmitting your mind / soul is a whole 'nuther metaphysical can of worms.  These problems make good stories, though. (Maybe I'll do another blog post on all the ways science fiction writers have worked with / around these issues.)

But, is teleportation itself truly implausible?  Could we jump objects from point A to B? (Ok, there's still that speed of light thing.) In the past twenty years or so, scientists have working on quantum teleportation. It's not really the same thing (by a long shot), though. This type of teleportation only moves information--sometimes over several miles.  Here’s a better explanation, courtesy of the movie, Jumper:

Long story short: no human or object teleportation--for now. (However, it might mean big things for computing in the near future.) 

Still, I want one. A teleporter, that is.  What future technology (improbable or not) do you covet?


Theresa Milstein said...

I'm with you on teleporting. Imagine no planes? No adding to greenhouse gasses? No waiting on long lines? No 3 oz or less rule? Bliss!

Jenni Merritt said...

I really do have to vote for teleportation. Or at least those nifty tubes used in the Jetsons.

Another great one? Interstellar space travel. For leisure. "I need a vacation. Planet X is nice this time of year. Let's go!" ;)

K.V. Briar said...

I love to read about technology in books and I seriously can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Possession! Teleportation would be cool. One time I read about a machine that fixes your make-up and hair in a matter of minutes (something like airbrushing, if I remember correctly) which would be awesome. Or a robot that would do my laundry--I *hate* laundry.

Teril said...

Oh many count me in on teleportation! I could go to way more awesome events and book signings if I had one of those handy dandy personal teleportation units.

Holy Lucy, Batman! said...

I'm gonna go with the classic approach..... I really wish I could time travel!!!!! But if that's not original enough..... I want a tv that you can go in the middle of it or take things from it like for example you're watching food network and you can just reach in and take a cupcake. Hope I win! Lol

Becky Mushko said...

A teleporter would be neat, but a cloak of invisibility could be useful, too. Or a self-cleaning house. I could use one of those.

Jemi Fraser said...

I want one too! To be able to pop over to Paris, or Tokyo, or Athens, or Aberdeen... I'd love it!

Angie Smibert said...

Ok, Becky, you've swayed me. I now want a self-cleaning house--and I want it to work better than the so-called self-cleaning litterbox I have in the basement.