Physicists cracked the mystery of teleportation — but it’s nothing like what you see in Star Trek
Brian Greene: I’m Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University and co-founder of the World Science Festival.
Teleportation is one of the weird ideas, and there is a version of it that physicists now routinely make use of. Nobody is teleporting people from place to place.
But we can teleport individual particles. We can take a particle at one location, and then in some sense create an absolute identical version of it, exactly the same properties, exactly the same quantum state, if you let me be a little technical.
And that means, in essence, you’ve gone from a particle that was here to one over here. And in fact, the process itself destroys the particle over here. So, the only version of this particle that exists when this process is over is the one that’s been created at this location.
And people do this. There is a very very smart physicist — Anton Zeilinger. He routinely teleports particles from Tenerife to La Palma. It’s an amazing thing that you can actually do this. The big question, of course, is: Will you ever teleport big things like people?
And the procedures that are used for individual particles simply do not scale. You cannot simply scale them up to do more and more particles, I don’t think. But who knows? 500 or 1,000 years from now, maybe we’ll have something on the table that we can try out. If it happens in our lifetime I can tell you one thing for certain — I will not be the first person who goes into that device.
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