Star Trek's vision becomes reality

March 4, 2016, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena
Juniorprof. Dr Alexander Szameit (r.) and Dr Marco Ornigotti from University of Jena (Germany)with models of the USS Enterprise. The physicists have now for the first demonstrated in an experiment that the concept of teleportation does not only persist in the world of quantum particles, but also in our classical world. Credit: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU

"Beam me up, Scotty" - even if Captain Kirk supposedly never said this exact phrase, it remains a popular catch-phrase to this day. Whenever the chief commander of the television series starship USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) wanted to go back to his control centre, this command was enough to take him back to the control centre instantly - travelling through the infinity of outer space without any loss of time.

But is all of this that was thought up in the 1960s? Not quite: Physicists are actually capable of beaming—or "teleporting" as it is called in technical language - if not actual solid particles at least their properties.

"Many of the ideas from Star Trek that back then appeared to be revolutionary have become reality," explains Prof. Dr Alexander Szameit from the University of Jena (Germany). "Doors that open automatically, video telephony or flip phones—all things we have first seen on the starship USS Enterprise," exemplifies the Juniorprofessor of Diamond-/Carbon-Based Optical Systems. So why not also teleporting? "Elementary particles such as electrons and exist per se in a spatially delocalized state," says Szameit. For these particles, it is with a certain probability thus possible to be in different places at the same time. "Within such a system spread across multiple locations, it is possible to transmit information from one location to another without any loss of time." This process is called and has been known for several years.

The team of scientists led by science fiction fan Szameit has now for the first demonstrated in an experiment that the concept of teleportation does not only persist in the world of , but also in our classical world. Szameit and his colleagues report about these achievements in the scientific journal "Laser & Photonics Reviews" (DOI: 10.1002/lpor.201500252).

They used a special form of laser beams in the experiment. "As can be done with the physical states of elementary particles, the properties of light beams can also be entangled," explains Dr Marco Ornigotti, a member of Prof. Szameit's team. For physicists, "entanglement" means a sort of codification. "You link the information you would like to transmit to a particular property of the light," clarifies Ornigotti who led the experiments for the study that was now presented.

In their particular case, the physicists have encoded some information in a particular polarisation direction of the laser light and have transmitted this information to the shape of the laser beam using teleportation. "With this form of teleportation, we can, however, not bridge any given distance," admits Szameit. "On the contrary, classic teleportation only works locally." But just like it did at the starship USS Enterprise or in quantum teleportation, the information is transmitted fully and instantly, without any loss of time. And this makes this kind of information transmission a highly interesting option in telecommunication for instance, underlines Szameit.

Explore further: Physicists simulate for the first time charged Majorana particles

More information: Diego Guzman-Silva et al. Demonstration of local teleportation using classical entanglement, Laser & Photonics Reviews (2016). DOI: 10.1002/lpor.201500252

Related Stories

Scientists produce status check on quantum teleportation

September 30, 2015

Mention the word 'teleportation' and for many people it conjures up "Beam me up, Scottie" images of Captain James T Kirk. But in the last two decades quantum teleportation – transferring the quantum structure of an object ...

New theory suggests way to teleport energy long distances

January 28, 2014

( —A trio of researchers at Tohoku University in Japan, led by Masahiro Hotta, has proposed a new way to teleport energy that allows for doing so over long distances. In their paper published in Physical Review ...

Recommended for you

X-rays reveal chirality in swirling electric vortices

January 16, 2018

Scientists used spiraling X-rays at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) to observe, for the first time, a property that gives handedness to swirling electric patterns – dubbed ...

Slow 'hot electrons' could improve solar cell efficiency

January 16, 2018

Photons with energy higher than the band gap of the semiconductor absorbing them give rise to what are known as hot electrons. The extra energy in respect to the band gap is lost very fast, as it is converted into heat and ...

Quan­tum physics turned into tan­gi­ble re­al­ity

January 16, 2018

ETH physicists have developed a silicon wafer that behaves like a topological insulator when stimulated using ultrasound. They have thereby succeeded in turning an abstract theoretical concept into a macroscopic product.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4.5 / 5 (11) Mar 04, 2016
Note, like all "journalism" articles on the topic, they are *not* teleporting actual matter. It's a *lot* more like sending a message without reading it along the way.

Imagine you could take an object apart atom by atom and record the precise position and momentum of each atom. This would give you an instruction set, transmitted at the speed of light or slower, to "build" the object somewhere else.

But, quantum mechanics says we can't know the precise position and momentum of each atom. Therefore, it *seems* like that instruction set can't be generated.

Quantum messaging, called teleportation, allows us to relay the information without actually "measuring" it. And so long as we don't measure it, we obey the laws of quantum mechanics about not knowing precisely either the position or momentum of the atoms.

There are some neat rules and caveats here, namely that you cannot "clone" the quantum information. But ultimately that's the only thing under discussion. Messaging.
3.3 / 5 (3) Mar 04, 2016
maybe we will be able to send the information of our minds somewhere with this in the distant future. Stretching just my imagination if this works out the properties of something can be teleported not the thing itself? Then you could download urself to the new quantum computers ey jah singularity have fun with it maybe kids? just rambling on the imagination tho i know not the real details of this branch of science.
5 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2016
That is a point, if you can create a device that allows instantaneous transfer of your thoughts to anywhere in the a huge range of space (however far away you can make quantum teleportation work) you could effectively teleport yourself to a host android or cyborg/cloned body. They try this concept out, now that I'm thinking about, in the new SyFy channel program Dark Matter.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2016
Space Jews
1 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2016
You probably don't need quantum teleportation to "send your mind" somewhere. All of the messaging happens at light speed or slower, so presumably, if we had the technology to read your mind really well, and insert stimulus into it really well, regular "classical" communication would suffice. Quantum messaging may help if you want to securely encrypt the communication, but isn't necessary.
not rated yet Mar 04, 2016
If it included digitized memories I think I'd want quantum encryption. Some things should stay uncertain.
3 / 5 (2) Mar 04, 2016
"With this form of teleportation, we can, however, not bridge any given distance," admits Szameit.
Was the word NOT supposed to be in there????

I still wonder if you entangle some "stuff" stick one half in a box and load it on a space probe. Then once the probe is deep into space, use your box of entangle "stuff" to transmit information back to Earth. Hey I don't care if it is still light speed or slower, but if it is able to transmit, then we have an awesome way of getting data back from the fringes of the solar system
not rated yet Mar 05, 2016
What part of 'non-locality' do GR worshippers rufuse to understand.
not rated yet Mar 05, 2016
"The team of scientists lead by science fiction fan Szameit..." [lead -> led]
not rated yet Mar 05, 2016
All well and good - all you need is to make that antimatter-fueled reactor to power the transporter. very simple!
not rated yet Mar 05, 2016
I want to point out that sliding doors did not originate in Star Trek. Star Wars at least had them first (the cultural phenomenon that spurred the creation of Star Trek), probably some other "future" TV show had them prior to Star Trek, too.

I doubt Dr. Alexander Szameit will read this comment, but... he was mistaken.
not rated yet Mar 05, 2016
I believe Lost in Space had sliding doors. And Johnny Qwest?

not rated yet Mar 06, 2016
Fucking dumbass on a scientific Form not even talk aboat the molecular structure of matter, memories, recalls cognition interested turn etc,
5 / 5 (3) Mar 06, 2016

Star Trek - 1966
Star Wars - 1977

You just flunked Nerd 101
5 / 5 (1) Mar 07, 2016
What's truly interesting about quantum teleportation is that it invalidates Einstein's conjecture that synchronicity cannot exist in the universe, owing to the limitation of the speed of light. We don't know if quantum invalidation of no synchronicity extends to cosmological scales. If it does, then Lorentz may have the last word on a very important conjecture.

Lorentz, relying on the same exact equations as Einstein used in SR, concluded that a single frame of reference for the entire universe was possible. Such a frame requires synchronicity, which Einstein rejected. In a nutshell, using Lorentz's conjecture, time dilation between two moving clocks is not reciprocal, as Einstein would have it. And that means a do-over for *all* of our calculations of distances and velocities derived from red shift.

The quantum scale is weird. I have no idea if we should draw conclusions from it affecting cosmology. But I think it's a fascinating question.
5 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2016

Star Trek - 1966
Star Wars - 1977

...though the first automatic sliding door was built in 1954. Not everything in Star Trek was originated by Roddenberry.
1 / 5 (1) Mar 07, 2016
What's truly interesting about quantum teleportation is that it invalidates Einstein's conjecture that synchronicity cannot exist in the universe, owing to the limitation of the speed of light.

Classical information is limited by speed of light. Quantum information is not . Although they both contain the word 'information' these are fundamentally different things.

You cannot use quantum information to transmit any classical information (like a *measured* state of mind or even a *measured* state of a single atom) at faster than light speed. So FTL messaging (or FTL beaming, or FTL drives) aren't going to happen barring some huge breakthrough in physics.

You can use quantum information to make sure what you meausure *after* receiving a particle (e.g. a photon) is the same as you measure for an entangled entity elsewhere. This is why it's perfectly fine to use this for encryption (since encryption doesn't add classical information to a signal)
5 / 5 (1) Mar 07, 2016
Auntie, your point is conceded - to a point. Experiments haven't shown that quantum systems can transmit classical information instantaneously. Theorists argue the question both ways, though. Right now they seem to lean towards ruling it out, but there are many unanswered questions.

And yet we can't miss the fact that there *is* a form of simultaneity in the universe. It's a weird kind of simultaneity, and caution about jumping to conclusions for classical/cosmological scales is wise. But still. It's suggestive that a single frame of reference can exist.

I'm not satisfied (not that my satisfaction carries any weight, mind you) that reciprocity in SR's time dilation has been verified experimentally. I think the door remains open to Lorentz's conjecture, at least until we have better evidence one way or the other.
3 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2016
Experiments haven't shown that quantum systems can transmit classical information instantaneously.

Link please? That would be awesome (and instant Nobel Prize worthy) news.


3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2016
Anti-Thinking has a reading and comprehension failure. Nothing unusual for the senile.

Have a cracker fool.

* Experiments HAVEN'T shown that quantum systems can transmit classical information instantaneously. *
5 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2016
My bad. I misread.
5 / 5 (1) Mar 07, 2016
We all have brain farts from time to time. Mine are usually more spectacular.
not rated yet Mar 07, 2016
And yet we can't miss the fact that there *is* a form of simultaneity in the universe.

An interesting article recently posited how one could build a time machine

While not exactly practical, if the calculations are valid then that would argue against simultaneity (since you could have different points of time at the same point of space)
not rated yet Mar 07, 2016
Auntie, those parameters rely very heavily on Einstein's conjecture, a universe without simultaneity. How time dilation is treated, the apparent stretching and mass changes for approaching the speed of light, and these time travel scenarios all work under Einstein's conjecture.

In Lorentz's universe, relying on the exact same equations but using his conjecture, it all comes out very differently.

The need for dark energy goes away under Lorentz's conjecture, too. The consequences of relying on Einstein's conjecture are immense, which is why I desperately want to see it nailed down experimentally.

Proof of time dilation's reciprocity under SR would help us prefer Einstein's conjecture. GPS doesn't show it, though. Adjusting the satellite clock for SR (and GR too, of course) is all that's required for accurate geopositions, no Earth clock adjustments needed, so it *seems* SR's time dilation is directional. If there are other two-clock experiments, I don't know about them.
not rated yet Mar 07, 2016
I sure would like to see JPL look at Voyager data for evidence of reciprocity. Voyager spacecraft both have on-board clocks. They may not be very precise clocks, but the Voyagers are moving faster than any other spacecraft relative to Earth. Inaccurate on-board clocks would just mean we'd have to look at more data over a longer period to tease out reciprocity or directionality, I think. But we already have decades of data, and we have pretty darned good calculations of their velocities, good enough to notice that waste heat produces very small changes in their vectors.
5 / 5 (1) Mar 07, 2016
What's truly interesting about quantum teleportation is that it invalidates Einstein's conjecture that synchronicity cannot exist in the universe, owing to the limitation of the speed of light.
say again..? ..owing to the speed of light? Since when? Explain how relative time in two separate locations is influenced by the speed of light.

It wasn't "synchronicity" that Einstein was referring to, it was about the simultaneity of events in different points in space owing to the effect on time of the motions of bodies in different locations in space. Physics is basically the study of motion.

Oh, and it wasn't conjecture. It's a proven fact. His "spooky action at a distance" also violates his own theories, but he acknowledged it. It was a reference to the behavior of gravity, because, at the time they weren't doing quantum teleportation.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.