The final frontier: just how easy is it to teleport humans into space?

Posted by uatemp13 at Jul 30, 2013 03:13 PM |
Leicester physics students turn their attention to Star Trek-style human transportation
The final frontier: just how easy is it to teleport humans into space?

Credit: Konrad Summers, via Wikimedia Commons

In 2009’s Star Trek, Scotty is able to transport himself and (Captain) Kirk across space and into a ship travelling at warp speed. Indeed, in Scotty and Kirk’s world, teleportation is the preferred way to get around—that is, apart from enormous intergalactic starships. It’s quick, easy and safe—well, usually. But how much time and power is really needed to teleport a human being to space? Fourth year MPhys students at Leicester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy sought out to answer that question.

For this paper the students investigated the teleportation of a human from the earth’s surface to a space in circular orbit directly above—and, unfortunately, it takes a little longer than two seconds. Firstly, a human being would need to be distilled into transferable data, right down to DNA, and all of the data making up the brain—around 2.6x1042 bits (b). Assuming we want to beam this information up to space at 29—30 GHz, Scotty’s journey would take a leisurely 4.85x1015years. This is 350,000 times longer than the Universe has even existed (14 billion years). Huge amounts of power would be needed to beam up the data. It would actually be significantly quicker for Scotty (or Kirk) to walk there. In other words, students came to the conclusion that teleportation is still out of our reach, and will be for a long time.

The students published their paper, Travelling by Teleportation, was in the latest volume of the University of Leicester’s Journal of Physics Special Topics. Published every year, the journal features short articles by fourth year MPhys students. By publishing these articles, students learn about aspects of academic publishing and peer review, and are encouraged to be creative in their subjects—just recently, they looked into the feasibility of building the gigantic hovercraft from The Avengers.

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