...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Day 1933: DON'T beam me up, Scotty!


Thank you to Mr Joe for showing me this long wibble about TELEPORTATION, which is Greek for the carrying of televisions. My fluffy brain aches now!

It seems to me, though I AM only a fluffy elephant, that the way that STAR TREK's transporter works is VERY DANGEROUS. It looks to me like it is just one of their copy-stuff-machines [R: replicators] with a PHASER GUN stuck to the business end.

So poor old Mr Spock is SHOT DEAD every time he goes down to the orange planet and a new copy of him is made at the other end!

Because the new copy has all of Mr Spock's MEMORIES up to the point where HE GOT SHOT! Then copy Mr Spock does not realise that he is only a copy. But the original is still a pile of SMOULDERING ASHES waiting for Mr Scotty to dust the transporter pads!

If you think this does not work like this, then think about the episode where the transporter – which should properly be called the DISINTEGRATOR-COPIER-KILLER MACHINE!! – produced TWO Captain Quirks for the price of one. That is a special offer that even ASDA don't do! Where does the second Captain Quirk come from if the machine is not a COPIER???

There is ALSO an episode in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (or the REALLY BORING ONE as I call it) where DOCTOR PULASKI (who was MUCH better than Doctor Beverly Spaniel) gets REALLY OLD by mistake, but they use the DISINTEGRATOR-COPIER-KILLER MACHINE to make her young again. If it wasn't LETHAL this would be instant IMMORTALITY for everyone in the Federation! Just remember to keep your old hair! Clearly the only way this can work is if it makes a BRAND NEW Doctor Pulaski and just makes her THINK she is the same as the (way) old one. Who is now fried as well as old.

Anyway, the WHOLE principle behind the Star Trek transporter is IMPOSSIBLE because of QUANTUM MECHANICS. Actually, if you want to see my Daddy Richard go a REALLY funny colour, just say "Heisenberg Compensators" to him!

[R: you might as well talk about the "switch off physics" button froth, foam, gnash etc]

A much safer way to travel would be to use WORMHOLES. Not ones made in the ground by actual WORMS (though you can if you want too!) but bits of SPACE-TIME that are folded up like Chinese Origami or Swedish Self-Assembly Furniture. Essentially this means building a kind of tunnel or bridge through the fifth dimension (or HYPERSPACE) so that you have a short-cut from point A to point I.

Of course, in practice this tends to need spinning cylindrical black holes the length of the solar system. This is a BIT difficult as there are not many of those lying about the place. But like most things I expect that they will get smaller and cheaper once people start working on it. wormPOD nano will be all the rage one day, I BET!

I used to think that this was how the STARGATE on, erm, STARGATE worked, but they have talked about breaking you down into energy for the journey and putting you back together at the other end as well. Which makes it just a DISINTEGRATOR-COPIER-KILLER MACHINE which fires your copy through a wormhole.

A third way, avoiding all of that tedious mucking about in HYPERSPACE, would be to use a property of Quantum Mechanics called Quantum Entanglement. (This is NOT anything to do with Mr Blair and cash for peerages.) There is this thing where PARTICLES and ANTI-PARTICLES form pairs so that even if you separate them, if you affect one it also affects the other. Because there is REALLY only one set of information that describes the pair, then the second particle "knows" what happens to the first simultaneously and this does not break the famous rule that no information can travel faster than light (because no information has).

What you need to do is persuade all of the information that makes up YOU to stop being recorded in your particles and switch simultaneously to your quantum-entangled anti-particles and you will instantly be somewhere else. In fact there is a very small probability that this could happen to you anyway!

HOPEFULLY this does not involve killing you since it is almost exactly the same as your particles NOT deciding to suddenly move the information that is you to somewhere else and that happens ALL THE TIME.

However, you WOULD need a way of controlling QUANTUM PROBABILITY to make this work, and for that you will need a BRAMBLEWEENY 57 Sub-Meson Brain. And a REALLY strong cup of TEA.


Nimbos said...

Heisenberg Compensators are as bad as Inertial Dampers, which stop the crew resembling a strawberry ice-lolly on a very hot day every time they go into warp speed.

Best to travel by TARDIS I think - much safer.

Will said...

I didn't realise Dr Pulaski being terribly old and raddled was a plot point.

0tralala said...

"What you need to do..."

Delighted such an elephantine brain thinks the third way is best. This is how I fathomed to do it.

Nimbos says above that it's safer to travel by TARDIS. But he got murdered by a South African double-agent, so I'm not sure he can be right.

Joe Otten said...

Fluffy, if I had a REALLY strong cup of TEA, I probably wouldn't want to go anywhere else anyway.