To infinity and beyond: Teleporting humans into space

Jul 30, 2013

In the science fiction show, Star Trek, teleportation is a regular and significant feature. But how much time and power is required to send the data needed to teleport a human being?

University of Leicester physics James Nelms, Declan Roberts, Suzanne Thomas and David Starkey have calculated the answer to this very question.

A group of four fourth year MPhys students have calculated that the energy required to teleport one person is shown to be dependent on bandwidth – which means a decrease in time creates an increase in .

Their paper, Travelling by Teleportation, was published in the latest volume of the University of Leicester's Journal of Physics Special Topics.

The journal is published every year, and features original short papers written by students in the final year of their four year Master of Physics degree.

The students are encouraged to be imaginative with their topics, and the aim is for them to learn about aspects of publishing and peer review.

In this particular paper the students investigated the teleportation of a human being from a location on the Earth's surface to a space in circular orbit directly above it.

To begin the teleportation process, every human that is teleported will need to be represented in transferable data.

At a basic level, the transferable data of a human would be represented by the DNA pairs that make up genomes (which contain the entirety of an organism's hereditary information) in each cell.

The total data for each human cell was calculated as approximately 1010 bits (b), and one cell contains enough information to replicate any other type of cell in the body.

Mentally rebuilding a person is not so simple. The full information of the traveller's brain is required, which brings the total information content up to around 2.6 x 1042 b.

After the students calculated the basic data of the human being, they were then able to calculate both the time and power required to teleport the human from Earth to the chosen point in space.

It was found that the time to complete a fully successful human teleportation from Earth to space was questionable. In fact, assuming the bandwidth used is 29.5 to 30 GHz, the students discovered that the data transfer would require up to 4.85x1015 years.

The universe is thought to be around 14 billion years old (14 x 109 years old), and so it would take around 350,000 times longer than the universe to transport the information of a single human – it would probably be quicker to walk!

Calculations showed that the energy required to send one person through the means of teleportation is shown to dependent upon bandwidth, which means a decrease in time creates an increase in power consumption.

Unfortunately, quick and energetically cheap teleportation at this current moment in time is beyond our means, and will be for a very long time.

One of the students, David Starkey, reflects on the Physics Special Topic Journal article: "We decided to investigate the practicalities of as a means of everyday travel.

"We employed several approximations to determine the amount of data required in bits to fully store a human genetic code and neural information, and the signal to noise ratio of typical signalling equipment. We also assumed that the maximum data sampling rate, the Nyquist limit, was reached by both transmitter and receiver.

"Our results indicate the time scales to complete a full teleport of an individual are a little too lengthy at this time. Current means of travel remain more feasible."

Course leader Dr Mervyn Roy, a lecturer at the University's Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: "A lot of the papers published in the Journal are on subjects that are amusing, topical, or a bit off-the-wall. Our fourth years are nothing if not creative!

"But, to be a research physicist - in industry or academia - you need to show some imagination, to think outside the box, and this is certainly something that the module allows our students to practice.

"Most of our masters students hope to go on to careers in research where a lot of their will be taken up with scientific publishing - writing and submitting papers, and writing and responding to referee reports.

"This is another area where the module really helps. Because Physics Special Topics is run exactly like a professional journal, the students get the chance to develop all the skills they will need when dealing with high profile journals like Nature or Science later on in life."

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malty
1.9 / 5 (9) Jul 30, 2013
interesting:
is that the optimal way to "teleport" a person
it would seem that you are actually building a person - effectively building a copy at the remote location
essentially a scan and duplicate atom by atom slicing the person in to layers 1 atom thick and building a copy from some local matter ( not necessarily the atoms from "your matter stream")

i know they speak of a pattern buffer and that the data with degrades over time..
Remember, Mr. Scot copied himself into the pattern buffer and with a feedback loop when he crash landed on the dyson sphere

A little local worm hole would probably be quicker and more cost effective
MikeBowler
1.4 / 5 (10) Jul 30, 2013
actually teleporting is currently better than a wormhole, we can teleport things, very small things i admit, but we don't know anything about wormholes or if they can or do exist they're purely theoretical whereas teleporting is a real thing and is becoming more common
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (15) Jul 30, 2013
"The universe is thought to be around 14 billion years old (14 x 109 years old), and so it would take around 350,000 times longer than the universe to transport the information of a single human – it would probably be quicker to walk'

Ahahaaa well the transportee would have all the time in the world because at the beginning of the process he or she would be killed. This is what inevitably happens when you disassemble a person into tiny little pieces.
axemaster
2 / 5 (8) Jul 30, 2013
Pointless. Teleporting a person inevitably results in their death. The person who appeared would be a clone - not the original person.
Neinsense99
2 / 5 (12) Jul 30, 2013
Pointless. Teleporting a person inevitably results in their death. The person who appeared would be a clone - not the original person.

So, we clone the hot ones. Sounds like a plan to me. ;) ;) nudge nudge...
Neinsense99
1 / 5 (9) Jul 30, 2013
"To Infinity and Beyond" Reading that phrase can give you a buzz that would last a light year.
Puppetgrimm1
1 / 5 (4) Jul 31, 2013
Maybe they could make a single copy of the different types of cells in the body except the brain and replicate that according to the size, weight, dna of the person etc... That should save on data!?! I just saying there should be shortcuts! Anyway just a thought.
Neinsense99
1 / 5 (7) Jul 31, 2013
interesting:
is that the optimal way to "teleport" a person
it would seem that you are actually building a person - effectively building a copy at the remote location
essentially a scan and duplicate atom by atom slicing the person in to layers 1 atom thick and building a copy from some local matter ( not necessarily the atoms from "your matter stream")

i know they speak of a pattern buffer and that the data with degrades over time..
Remember, Mr. Scot copied himself into the pattern buffer and with a feedback loop when he crash landed on the dyson sphere

A little local worm hole would probably be quicker and more cost effective

It would be an awkward time for a BSOD, that's for sure.
Larry Niven wrote about teleportation and how it might work and affect society in many of his Known Space stories and some of his other short tales. If the subject interests you, he's a good fictional author to check out.
Aussie-Kev
1 / 5 (4) Jul 31, 2013
Sounds like this process is to build a copy/clone and download the contents of the brain into the copy. If you are going to this much trouble why not a few tweaks: make the copy a few years younger, or with configurable cosmetic features; weight, hair, age, remove any physical disability and so forth. The current cloning methods are much faster.
MIBO
5 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2013
I can't see where they get 2.6E+42 bits for the information content of the human brain, which is implied to be almost all of the information that is transferred given the 1E+10 prior count is insignificant.
The human genome has been mapped and requires significantly less storage space.
Avogadros constant is 6.022E+23, a simple division gives around 4E+18.
So storing 1bit of information on a hydrogen nucleus would require 4E+15 Kg of hydrogen.
I know our brain doesn't store information digitally, but I cannot see how this is possible.
The average adult brain contains 1E+11 neurons, so each Neuron would need to be able to store 2.6E+31 bits of information.
Strikes me that the maths are wrong.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2013
The person who appeared would be a clone - not the original person.

That's sort of an interesting philosophical question. Because if you could make a perfect* copy then that 'copy' would certainly think it is the original - as it has all the memories. Who is to say that it's wrong in that assumption?

Now when you reconstitute that person multiple times from the sent information (or don't destroy the 'original') things get really interesting.

Which leads to the deeper question: Are we simply defined by our memories? And how abstract is that definition? I.e. does it include the matter we are made of or simply the pattern.
One could argue that memorie are all that matter, as people who have a pathology where they can't form long term memories after some event (usually heavy drug abuse) experience severe personality dissociation upon looking in the mirror in the morning from the much younger self which is all they remember.

* where 'perfect' is a measure yet to be defined.
johanfprins
1.9 / 5 (10) Jul 31, 2013
I think that in order to teleport a person or, for that matter, any object, you cannot do this by breaking the object down atom-by-atom and reassembling the atoms on the other side: Most probably you must first get all the atoms to entangle in order to form a single wave without sub-parts and then teleport the whole wave. The wave then disentangles on the other side to become the teleported object.
marraco
1 / 5 (4) Jul 31, 2013
actually teleporting is currently better than a wormhole, we can teleport things, very small things i admit, but we don't know anything about wormholes or if they can or do exist they're purely theoretical whereas teleporting is a real thing and is becoming more common

As I understand, we can only transport random information. Just noise.
Urgelt
3.8 / 5 (4) Jul 31, 2013
Um, no. The DNA information in all of the cells of a human body is nowhere near sufficient to capture identity.

For one thing, memory is not stored as DNA. So all of a person's memories would be gone.

For another, molecular positional information would be lost.

For another, the whole scheme completely ignores mitochondrial DNA. You cannot reconstruct a human, even theoretically, without it.

And then there's the 10 trillion hitchhikers in our bodies, including gut flora, which interact with, signal, and in some cases control human cells through novel hormones. A reconstructed human without his microflora would be a different person.

Need I go on? Okay, I'll add one more. Does anyone seriously believe that quantum states of atoms in a human being are irrelevant? This scheme ignores that, too.

A human is the product of much more than his DNA, and so this thought experiment understates the cost of teleportation by many orders of magnitude.
Veneficus
2 / 5 (4) Jul 31, 2013
Pointless. Teleporting a person inevitably results in their death. The person who appeared would be a clone - not the original person.


Correct. However, then the philosophical question of "what makes us who we are" is raised. As nicely shown in the movie "The Prestige", there would not be any distinction possible between the original and the clone. The original is discarded and the clone will have all memories and other properties of the original, so he or she will have experienced teleportation.

This experiment would be the ultimate test for the religiously inclined, to check whether anything like a soul exists, which would be the only difference between original and clone...

---edit--- :

In fact, both clone and original would die. The original would be killed to prevent duplicates (see "The Prestige") and the clone would die of asphyxiation, since he/she is teleported into space... ;-)
slash
1 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2013
@MIBO: Actually most of our memory is stored in the 'connectome' or map of neuron connections (see http://en.wikiped...nnectome ). However, that raises the total number of 'information units' only to roughly 10 to the power of 15. If the state of each synapse could be fully encoded in a data structure of, say, 1 million bits, that would result in a total of 10 to the power of 21 bits of information. So your statement is still valid in principle: the transfer would be a matter of minutes rather than universe-lifetimes.

Maybe what they did is not transfer the current state, but rather the stream of information received over a lifetime that eventually led to the current state of the brain. Rather inefficient if you ask me, but also a lot more error tolerant.

That said, the question remains whether a reassembled 'copy' of our body and memories is still the same being. Also, is it ethically sound to kill off the original in the process?
Moebius
1.8 / 5 (10) Jul 31, 2013
To be technically correct it isn't teleportation. First you need to build a disintegrater, a mighty weapon by itself, and disintegrate something or someone. Then you need to make it encode the 100% precise data that represents anything it disintegrates. Then you need to be able to take that data into a 3D printer and have it replicate the original exactly. Any volunteers for that first step?
triplehelix
1 / 5 (9) Jul 31, 2013
It took 4 MPhys students to figure out that if you want to teleport something quickly more energy is needed?

I could've told you that for free with just a bog standard degree and a lot more common sense.

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jul 31, 2013
It took 4 MPhys students to figure out that if you want to teleport something quickly more energy is needed?

I could've told you that for free with just a bog standard degree and a lot more common sense.

Common (read: uneducated) sense would say that it takes X amount of energy to send one bit. So if the total number of bits (Y) are known then it shouldn't matter whether you send them all at once or one at a time. The sumtotal of energy should just by Y*X

However these guys figured in that this is not so as energy is dependent on frequency. So that if you send sequentially you can use the lowest frequency (which equals to low energy photons where each photon can presumably carry one unit of information), while if you send in parallel you need to incorporate higher frequencies (more energetic photons)...which is a good insight coming from students how haven't yet earned a degree.

That said I wish people would be more strict about distinguishing energy from power.
NeutronicallyRepulsive
1 / 5 (2) Jul 31, 2013
It would be easier to transfer human mind to a computer once, and then just move it, and have artificial bodies ready at destination.
triplehelix
1 / 5 (6) Aug 01, 2013
Common (read: uneducated) sense would say that it takes X amount of energy to send one bit. So if the total number of bits (Y) are known then it shouldn't matter whether you send them all at once or one at a time. The sumtotal of energy should just by Y*X


No, completely wrong.

A car can travel 5 miles distance, depending on its RPM and gearing, it will burn differing amounts of fuel.

The quicker you travel those 5 miles, the more fuel you will need.

Most chemical reactions, to speed them up, you put them under reflux or input more energy.

In pretty much EVERY facet of science, if you want to speed a process up, it obviously takes more energy.

It's very VERY basic science one learns as a 10 year old.

Why it was assumed to be static energy consumption without any experimental evidence is beyond me.
triplehelix
1 / 5 (7) Aug 01, 2013
Also thank you for the ad hominem argument by insulting me and suggesting I am uneducated.

Generally the first tactic used when losing an argument.

Again I re-iterate, in almost every facet of science, to speed a process up, always requires an increase in energy, and not necessarily linear either.

indio007
1 / 5 (8) Aug 02, 2013
Silly rabbits never heard of resonant tunneling.

antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2013
In pretty much EVERY facet of science, if you want to speed a process up, it obviously takes more energy.

We're not talking about speding a process up via coercing it to go faster (you can't speed up a photon). We're talking about speeding up via parallelization/increasing bandwith (sending many photons at once)

Which in your analogy would be
1) having one car drive the same distance 50 times to deliver 1 packet each
as opposed to
2) having 50 cars deliver one packet each

Which WOULD consume the same amount of fuel (ignoring return trips which aren't a sensible part of this analogy)

Why it was assumed to be static energy consumption without any experimental evidence is beyond me.

Obviously.
Also thank you for the ad hominem argument by insulting me and suggesting I am uneducated.

Q.E.D.
GSwift7
3.3 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2013
You guys might like this trillogy:

http://en.wikiped...d_Carbon

Altered Carbon, by Richard K Morgan. In this version of Earth's future, they can copy a person's thoughts and memories into simulators and/or store them for indefinite amounts of time. You can be erased from your own brain, copied into multiple bodies, transmitted to a distant location and implanted into another body, etc. Imagine being literally tortured to death, then down-load into a fresh body and begin again. Or how about being loaded into a high frame rate simulation for 10 years, which might feel like 1000 years to you, in a bare white space, with no sound or physical stimulea at all.

I think this series has the most interesting take on the subject I've ever seen. They call it DHF (digital human frieght) or needle-casting. They all have an implant in the spinal cord that constantly records your current state, so that it can be recovered like the black box of an airplane in the event of your death.
wwqq
not rated yet Aug 03, 2013
In a way we are all slowly teleporting. Few atoms in your body will be the same as atoms as they were a decade ago and those atoms that remain will be dead things(tooth enamel, the mineralized parts of bones).

Most cell types are replaced, but even cells that are not replaced are constantly using up proteins and building new ones, replacing their water and mineral content, repairing DNA. Even cells that aren't replaced very often quite quickly replace their constituent atoms.

An organism is more like a "wave" in matter than they are the matter itself.
MikeBowler
1 / 5 (2) Aug 03, 2013
actually teleporting is currently better than a wormhole
Actually by latest theories both methods http://quantumfro...mholes/.

i was talking about in practice, teleporting generates a copy and destroys the original and a wormhole is a shortcut through space (and time?), so the end result is just about the same, but like i mentioned earlier we don't know anything about wormholes they're just theoretical, teleporting has been done, we know stuff about it and are gaining traction all the time, i'm not saying wormholes should be ignored but for now i can't see how we could compare the 2 ideas, it might be that they can/do exist but takes such a vast amount of energy and resources that by the time we're capable of using them effectively that teleporting would have become a mature technology, perhaps everyday, or maybe it will be the opposite, who knows?
Gmr
1 / 5 (4) Aug 03, 2013
Urgelt: Wow, quite a few more things popped into my head - you'd have to accelerate growth by quite a factor, or everybody would be waiting roughly eighteen years for teleportation while their "new" body was kept completely inert to avoid - ethical - questions, plus the reset in your immune system as it would come out completely unchallenged and unprepared for even the basic organisms the mother faced originally...

Teleportation in any sense, I have to say, sounds like a suck deal.
Humpty
1 / 5 (7) Aug 04, 2013
I think the physical act of teleportation to be fascinating....

To be an atomically correct scan, in one instant, reappearing in another time and place.

But personality? Life? Memories? Thoughts? Ideas?

I wonder if these are "atomic storage" or "life force"?
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 05, 2013
@humpty
True teleportation would involve your body being physically shifted from one point to another, perhaps by being 'disassembled or, probably via an interdimensional short-cut. Either method would eliminate the need to generate new copies. Personally I prefer the second option, as there would be no disassembling required and it also eliminates any issues of memory transfer (etc). While your buddies would see you apparently disappearing into thin air, you would be seeing the room around you dissolve and being replaced by the surroundings at your destination. I would say that this option is, at this point unlikely though, it may become more realistic when we begin to have a more in-depth understanding of what dimensions/nature of space really are. At the moment, it's all still too basic.
http://en.wikiped...ortation (only the definition is useful here. The rest is pretty crappy) Best Regards, DH66
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 05, 2013
Teleportation in any sense, I have to say, sounds like a suck deal.

Unless we're really just reducing consciousness to a pattern. And then transmit that pattern into an artificial body. Of course, an artificial body will not react in the same way as your biological one (i.e. from the point on when you wake up in that artificial body you will start to learn differently - i.e. your development will diverge from that which would happen in a biological body)
Whether that's a problem or not is more of a personal issue than an ethical one, I feel.

Using artificially grown biological body is ethically questionable (as you're basically killing a fully formed human so that another consciousness can step in.)

To be an atomically correct scan, in one instant, reappearing in another time and place.

But personality? Life? Memories? Thoughts? Ideas?

Since all of these are reperesented in the matter that makes us up they would come along. Why wouldnt they?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 05, 2013
you would be seeing the room around you dissolve

I hope it would be too quick to be noticed for you (like being knocked unconscious: snap off - snap on). Anything else would be INCREDIBLY painful and traumatizing.
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 05, 2013
you would be seeing the room around you dissolve

I hope it would be too quick to be noticed for you (like being knocked unconscious: snap off - snap on). Anything else would be INCREDIBLY painful and traumatizing.

I was describing a visual perception of what one might experience during an interdimensional trip, a bit in the way that one might change the channel on a TV, but in real life. But I suspect that you are describing a physical 'elastic band effect' on the body. Now that WOULD hurt. However, since there is no actual movement within a single physical plane, I'm not quite sure why it would be a painful effect. I'm assuming that moving THRU a pair of dimensions (out one side and back in on the other, entry and exit each being local to respectively start and finish point) has slightly different physical properties than for displacement by, say walking. That's why I was also talking about needing better understanding about dimensions, etc.
Cheers, DH66
Ober
not rated yet Aug 06, 2013
I bet it wouldn't take that many bits to teleport Paris Hilton!!
You could even remove the Herpes genetics while you're at it.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2013
But I suspect that you are describing a physical 'elastic band effect' on the body.

I was referring to the diassembly of the body atom by atom.That seems like a pretty gruesome procedure if you're awake for it (and one that seems unlikly to be done in a tenth of a second - which would be the maximum time allowable for somethig like this to happen before your brain would register the pain. Always provided your brain is still in an 'undisolluted' state. Of course you could start with the brain and to that quickly and then take your time with the rest.)

As for an interdimensional trip: I'm pretty sure you'd see nothing, as those kinds of trips certainly aren't compatible with being alive (subtracting or adding a spatial/temporal or other dimensions isn't good for your health).
You'd have to be sent in a 'survivable' format (i.e. as atoms to be rebuilt at the destination or as a signal pattern representing the information used for your reconstruction)
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 06, 2013
As for an interdimensional trip: I'm pretty sure you'd see nothing, as those kinds of trips certainly aren't compatible with being alive (subtracting or adding a spatial/temporal or other dimensions isn't good for your health).

I agree that you wouldn't see anything BETWEEN the point of departure & arrival (1 image effectively replacing another because the transition would be so fast), but there would still be a finite (if mnuscule) time period elapsing before a transfer would be complete. Such travel cannot be truly instantaneous. Hence the temporal dimension does not disappear. I also sincerely doubt that any spacial dimensions would disappear. An interdimensional trip would involve travelling THRU the very fabric of our universe, perhaps by virtue of joining the 'outside' (or what would pass for that) with the outside of where you wish to go. I know that this implies non-locality of our universe, but remember that this possibility cannot actually be ruled out...cont
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 06, 2013
cont...just as its apposite (locality) has not actually been proven either. It is the current dominating hypothesis. I would also posit that dimensions permeate this 'fabric', hence you would be using them; not adding or subtracting. There are many diverse theories out there that there are more than 3 spatial dimensions (a current speculation: are they furled up?) & it is not inconceivable to me that 1 or more of those might actually be what would allow this kind of travel (by going transverse thru space). We can't negate that alternate possibility. Another argument that I have is that this fabric is probably no more solid than anything else. eg On a macro level our bodies look fully solid. However, go down low enough to a micro level, those same bodies become atoms with their electrons, protons & neutrons. I presume that I am telling you nothing new when I say that at this level, not only are we looking at a configuration of a bunch of separate little entities,...cont
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 06, 2013
cont...but that there is more empty space around them volumewise, than there is matter. This is the same space that we move thru on the everyday! We know that there is energy in a vacuum (space empty of matter). Since we already appear to be able to at least extract photons from it in some way, I would extrapolate that space is not as impervious to anything travelling thru its very fabric as one might at first assume. I would call that a kind of porosity. Back to the particle arrangement that is the body. My concept of interdimensional travel would simply entail the 'inside' of the fabric(space) temporarily displacing the 'normal' space permeating our 'particle crowd' that is our body. They would keep their relationships with each other. That seems like a pretty 'survivable' format to me. I would say that the biggest likelihood is that the laws of physic (including dimensions) not only don't disappear, they are an integral part of making space itself possible, let alone anything..cont
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 06, 2013
cont...in it. By extension, they would be just as present when travelling transversely thru space/dimensions. (transverse travel: my way of describing the process of going from one 'side' of space, to the other, interdimensionally) Perhap a basic (flawed) analogy might be to go thru a hole in a brick wall, rather than walking around it. All of this is just speculation of course. I did say in my earliest post that we know just too little to say for sure. I have a strong visual image in my head & I've been trying to describe it, but alas I'm not even sure if I'm making any real sense to you. Anyway, food for thought. I'm curious/interested as to how you might interpret this. Best Regards, DH66 :)
DarkHorse66
not rated yet Aug 06, 2013
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2013
Such travel cannot be truly instantaneous.

I agree that the travel would not be instantaneous - bu it will be instantaneous from your perception (I don't see how you can be in a biological whole state - much less awake - during that transfer.

I once was knocked unconscious (fell off my bike) and I imagine that a transport would be like that: consciousness off - consciousness on...without any perception of the intervening time like dreams or any other kind of memory forming experience. (in effect it's probably like dieing - only that that is missing the 'consciousness on' part)

What an 'interdimensional' travel even is (or whether that's even a sensible concept) is currenty too much of an unknown to speculate on specifics, so I'll bow out on that note.