March 13 2008 / by futuretalk
Category: Other Year: Beyond Rating: 6
By Dick Pelletier
Furious that terrorist Osama bin Laden is still on the loose more than six years after the September 11th attacks, military futurists are pondering a solution straight out of science fiction.
Wouldn’t it be cool, some ask, if we could capture bin Laden using teleportation? In the TV program Star Trek, people are transported from one point to another by having their bodies dematerialized, then instantly reassembled at the destination – hence the familiar “Beam me up, Scotty.”
In the future, we might teleport soldiers into “a cave, tap bin Laden on the shoulder, and say: ‘Hey, let’s go,’ “says spokesman Ranney Adams at Edwards Air Force Base Research Lab. Although extremely futuristic, this concept is being pursued by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and CIA through various research programs that they hope will one day turn this ground-breaking science into reality.
The following list reveals current progress in teleportation development:
• 1993 – IBM scientist Charles Bennett was the first to prove that teleportation is possible.
• 1998 – Caltech physicists turn the IBM idea into reality by teleporting a photon.
• 2002 – Australian National University scientists successfully teleport a laser beam.
• 2006 – Denmark researchers achieve teleportation between light and matter.
• 2007 – Australia’s Ashton Bradley is developing a system that operates nearly identical to the Star Trek version. He predicts the design will be complete by 2011.
Challenges to human teleportation are enormous. Scientists must first create a machine that can pinpoint, analyze, and store information from the mega-trillions of atoms that make up the human body. (cont.)
The machine must then send this data to another location and replicate the original body. Philosophical issues arise too. Although it knows I was dematerialized, the newly-replicated body believes it is me; however I wonder; is the copy 100% me; or did part of me get lost in the transfer?
Forward-thinkers believe all these challenges can be resolved. Molecular nanotech, expected by 2020, will be necessary to create hard drives to store the colossal amounts of data. And quantum computing, expected by mid-2020s, will be essential to process the quadrillion bits of information needed to capture the atomic structure of a human body and rebuild it with 100% accuracy, insuring that nothing is lost in the transfer.
Experts believe that human teleportation will happen. IBM’s Bennett says that scientists will one day scan a person using an advanced MRI system and transmit that scanned information somewhere else to be reassembled into an exact replica of the original person.
Futurists predict that teleportation technologies will advance exponentially in the coming decades. By as early as the 2030s, we could be teleporting information at light speeds; and by mid-century, the first humans might step onto a transporter and beam themselves to anywhere on Earth, or to Mars, or some other exotic space destination.
Who might live to see this wild future? Science writer Kevin Bonsor believes that if older people want to experience the miracle of human teleportation, they must take advantage of upcoming health enhancements and life extension technologies. Biotech and medical nanotech breakthroughs expected over the next two decades could enable everyone to enjoy this “magical future.”