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Teleportation, or teletransportation, is the process of moving objects from one place to another more or less instantaneously, without using conventional transportation.

With present techniques, this is conceivable only with elementary particles, or theoretically, by encoding information about an object, transmitting the information to another place, such as on a radio signal, and creating a copy of the original object in the new location. Teleportation has also been proposed to explain various anomalous phenomena, and the concept has been widely used in science fiction.

The word "teleportation" was coined in the early 1900's by writer Charles Fort to describe the strange disappearances and appearances of anomalies, which he suggested may be connected. Fort's first formal use of the word in the second chapter of his 1931 work, Lo! "Mostly in this book I shall specialize upon indications that there exists a transportory force that I shall call Teleportation." Though, with his typical half-serious jokiness, Fort added, "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." (Fort, 553) [1]

Similar is apport, an earlier word used to describe what today might be called teleportation; and bilocation, when someone is said to occupy two places simultaneously. The word "teletransportation" was first employed by Derek Parfit as part of a thought exercise on identity.

Gil Perez 1593

On the evening of October 24 1593, one of the strangest occurrences in the history of anomalous phenomena took place in Mexico.

A Guardia Civil, Gil Perez, is alleged to have appeared suddenly in a confused state in the Plaza Mayor of Mexico City, wearing the uniform of a Philippine regiment. He claimed that moments before finding himself in Mexico he had been on sentry duty in Manila at the governor’s palace. He admitted that while he was aware that he was no longer in the Philippines, he had no idea where he was or how he had gotten there. He said the governor, Don Gomez Perez Dasmariñas, had been assassinated.

When it was explained to him that he was now in Mexico City, Perez refused to believe it saying that he had received his orders on the morning of October 25 in Manila and that it was therefore impossible for him to be in Mexico City on the evening of the 24th. The authorities placed Perez in jail, as a deserter and for the possibility that he may have been in the service of Satan. The Most Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition questioned the soldier, but all he could say in his defence was that he had travelled from Manila to Mexico “in less time than it takes a cock to crow”.

Two months later, news from the Philippines arrived by Manila Galleon, confirming the fact of the literal axing on October 23 of Dasmariñas in a mutiny of Chinese rowers, as well as other points of the mysterious soldier’s fantastic story. Witnesses confirmed that Gil Perez had indeed been on duty in Manila just before arriving in Mexico. Furthermore, one of the passengers on the ship recognized Perez and swore that he had seen him in the Philippines on October 23. Gil Perez eventually returned to the Philippines and took up his former position as a palace guard, living thenceforth an apparently uneventful life.

In Science Fiction

Perhaps the earliest teleportation story in science fiction was printed in 1877: David Page Mitchell’s story "The Man Without A Body" details the efforts of a scientist who discovers a method to disassemble a cat’s atoms and transmit them over a telegraph wire. When he tries this on himself, the telegraph’s battery dies after only the man’s head was transmitted.

Arthur Conan Doyle's The Disintegration Machine (a 1927 Professor Challenger story) also revolves around the idea of teleportation.

Later, authors of 20th century science fiction used the term and concept of teleportation. Early science fiction writers like A. E. van Vogt’s World of Null-A (Astounding Science Fiction, August 1945), George Langelaan’s The Fly (Playboy Magazine, June 1957) and Algis Budrys’ Rogue Moon (Gold Medal Books, 1960) used teleportation in their fiction. Alfred Bester's acclaimed novel The Stars My Destination details a culture transformed by the discovery of instantaneous "jaunting."

In Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series teleportation has been described as "not quite as fun as a good solid kick to the head" on account of the fact that teleporting involves having your atoms ripped apart in one place and put back together somewhere else. Also in Todd McFarlane's comic books Spawn is physically ill after teleporting.

For the most part, widespread pop-culture awareness of the teleportation concept began with the numerous Star Trek television and theatrical movie series (beginning in 1964 with the original TV series pilot episode, The Cage) that was originally spawned by television writer-producer Gene Roddenberry. The teleportation of Star Trek is likely the most widely-recognized fictional teleportation: the “transporter” contraption, which is used to teleport people and things from ship to ship or from ship to planet and the other way around in an instant. Persons or non-living items would be placed on the transporter pad and are from top to bottom dismantled particle by particle by a beam with their atoms being patterned in a computer buffer and converted into a beam that is directed toward the destination, and then reassembled back into their original form (with no mistakes!).

In the last few decades, the rise of computer games has resulted in a rise in teleportation scenarios. One such example is the Half-Life series of computer games, in which a scientific experiment goes wrong and allows bizarre aliens to teleport onto Earth.

In Reality

Although the use of teleportation has traditionally been found only in science fiction, the theory and experimentation of quantum teleportation has been of interest to physicists.

In June 2002 the Ph.D. project of Mr. Warwick Bowen([2])& ([3]), led by Dr. Ping Koy Lam, Prof. Hans Bachor and Dr. Timothy Ralph of the Australian National University achieved (quantum) teleportation of a laser beam.

Davis report

In 2001, the United States Air Force commissioned Dr. Eric W. Davis, Ph.D., FBIS, to do a scientific study of teleportation. He submitted his report (AFRL-PR-ED-TR-2003-0034) in August 2004. The Davis report has been very controversial due to its recommendation of further studies of p-Teleportation:

A research program improving on and expanding, or implementing novel variations of, the Chinese and Uri Geller-type experiments should be conducted in order to generate p-Teleportation phenomenon in the lab. [Davis report, page 62]

The report (page 2) classified teleportation concepts into five sections:

"the disembodied transport of persons or inanimate objects across space by advanced (futuristic) technological means." The report does not further define sf-Teleportation, and has no further comment on it than to dismiss it from the scope of the report.
"the conveyance of persons or inanimate objects by psychic means."
"the conveyance of persons or inanimate objects across space by altering the properties of the spacetime vacuum, or by altering the spacetime metric (geometry)." This category includes the use of wormholes for transport, and the modification of the speed of light.
"the disembodied transport of the quantum state of a system and its correlations across space to another system, where system refers to any single or collective particles of matter or energy such as baryons (protons, neutrons, etc.), leptons (electrons, etc.), photons, atoms, ions, etc." The report explicitly includes in this category a process essentially the same as that envisioned by the fictional transporters of Star Trek. It also includes quantum teleportation by means of quantum entanglement.
"the conveyance of persons or inanimate objects by transport through extra space dimensions or parallel universes."

The report did not investigate sf-Teleportation other than to define it. The report recommended further study in all other types of teleportation (pages 28-29, 47-49, 54, 62).

Teleportation scenario

The use of teleportation as a means of transport for humans still has considerable unresolved technical and philosophical issues, such as exactly how to record the human body sufficiently accurately and also be able to reconstruct it, and whether destroying a human in one place and recreating a copy elsewhere would provide a sufficient experience of continuity of existence. Believers of supernatural, such as religious people, might wonder if the soul is recopied or destroyed, and might even consider it murder: The reassembled human will be a different sentience with the same memories to the original. Many of the questions are shared with the concept of mind transfer.

It is not clear if duplicating a human would require reproduction of the exact quantum state, requiring quantum teleportation which necessarily destroys the original, or whether macroscopic measurements would suffice. In the non-destructive version, hypothetically a new copy of the individual is created with each teleportation, with only the copy subjectively experiencing the teleportation. Technology of this type would have many other applications, such as virtual medicine (manipulating the stored data to create a copy better than the original), travelling into the future (creating a copy many years after the information was stored), or backup copies (creating a copy from recently stored information if the original was involved in a mishap.)

Another form of teleportation common in science fiction (and seen in The Culture and The Terminator series of films) sends the subject through a wormhole or similar phenomenon, allowing transit faster than light while avoiding the problems posed by the uncertainty principle and potential signal interference. In both of the examples above, this form of teleportation is known as Displacement or Topological shortcut (Scientific American). (Skynet used its displacement technology to produce a time machine, and thus named it the "Time-Space Displacement Equipment.")

Displacement teleporters eliminate many probable objections to teleportation on religious or philosophical grounds, as they preserve the original subject intact — and thus continuity of existence.

p-Teleportation means of teleportation are sometimes referred to as "psychoportation," or "jaunting"; named after the fictional scientist (Jaunte) who discovered it in The Stars My Destination (originally titled Tiger! Tiger!), a science fiction novel by Alfred Bester.

In religious, occult, and esoteric literature, teleportation or astral travel is the instantaneous movement of a person or object from one place to another, by miraculous, supernatural or psychic means rather than technological ones. For instance, in Acts 8:39, after Philip evangelized the Ethiopian finance minister, "Spirit of the Lord grabbed Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing. Philip found himself in Ashdod."

Popular culture

In the realm of science fiction and comic books, many fictional characters exhibit the endogenous power to teleport, including:

It also appears in the Harry Potter series, in the form of Apparition. In computer and video games many games make use of teleportation to enhance both plot and the way the game plays. Popular examples include:

See also


  • David Darling. 2005. Teleportation: The Impossible Leap. Wiley. ISBN 0471470953.
  • Charles Fort: The Books of Charles Fort. Henry Holt and Company, 1941

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