back to article Beam me up? Not in the life of this universe

If you ever doubted that the world needs vastly, incredibly, unbelievably more bandwidth, how about this: if you wanted to scan every detail of a human and teleport them via, say, a radio signal, it'll take a very, very, VERY long time. How long? Try a "universe-is-not-old-enough-by-a-long-shot" kind of long time. That's …


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  1. Steven Jones


    The calculation rather disregards the immense potential of compression. After all, the basic blueprint of a human being is written in the DNA which is rather less than one Gigabyte, Of course, this doesn't encode for all the experiences and environmental and random factors that lead to a particular human being at a particular point in time. However, it would seem that a vast amount of compression could be achieved by encoding, for instance, cell types and recording the approximately 10 trillion locations would achieve huge compression. Recording the state and configuration of the brain would require, for instance, about 10,000 trillion items on information, but still vastly less than the three-dimensional high res photocopy approach.

    Of course, this lossy compression "JPEGing" of a human means the result wouldn't be exactly the same as the original. However, it also shows that this isn't really teleporting a human being. It's faxing one to make a copy. Real teleportation would actually require some form of manipulation of space-time to "move" the original,

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Compression

      Loss-less compression would do well on the data set, as almost all the molecules are identical copies of a small number of individual types but in different positions.

      This work gives you some idea of the compression ratio you'd actually need to do it in a "reasonable" time. 1:10^15 would do the transfer in 4.85 years.


      1 : 1,000,000,000,000,000

      That's a rather high compression ratio. You can go first.

      1. Crisp

        Re: Compression

        You'd probably come out a bit pixelated at the other end. I don't want a face like a JPEG compression artifact!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Compression

          " I don't want a face like a JPEG compression artifact!"

          Although perhaps everyone else would prefer it if your face was pixelated?

        2. TheOtherHobbes

          Re: Compression

          "I don't want a face like a JPEG compression artifact!"

          Good for Minecraft though.

          Anyway, if we're making up hard SF, you don't teleport by scanning and sending - you do it by persuading all the information in one location to tunnel to another location, using a causal dynamical backchannel.

          Otherwise it's just faxing with body parts, which is possibly not a good plan.

        3. Simon Westerby 1

          Re: Compression

          You might not but some poor oggly moogs may well want to!

      2. Michael Habel

        Re: Compression

        So would that be..

        One in a Quadrillion (shortform)


        One in a Billiard (Longform) ??

      3. RISC OS

        Re: Compression

        4.85 years.... great improvement... and that is just to the moon

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon

          Re: Compression

          "4.85 years.... great improvement... and that is just to the moon"

          That's 4.85 years for the compression and transmission sequence, plus a few seconds delay in receiving because it's on the moon.

          It wouldn't take that much longer to send them to Jupiter for example.

          Since I've used the pedant symbol, I expect I'm wrong in a suitably spectacular fashion.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Compression

      Yup, lossy is all that's necessary. I wouldn't much care if the vibrational state of each serum H2O water molecule was faithfully replicated. A 'round about the right number at more or less the right average temp approximation would perfectly adequate. If every cell's DNA ended up being sequenced from a template then excellent, that'll be the end of cancer then. In fact, dump a precise rendition of my brain and reasonable approximation of my face onto a generic Connery bio-transport unit and I'd be perfectly satisfied. As would Mrs AC I imagine.

      Why radio at all though? How very 20th century. Can't see radio being a very useful medium. Wouldn't one have to beam down some sort of receiver station? I'd have thought some antiquated 21st century field-induced collimated subspace quantum process would be more appropriate. Call me old fashioned.

      1. monkeyfish

        Re: Compression

        How about not copying everything? How about just copying your brain into a younger, better looking model?

        1. monkeyfish

          Re: Compression

          Or some sort of surface drone, with a fully immersive matrix style mind control you would need to 'beam down' at all.

    3. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Compression / healing

      One possible side benefit of some of these compression methods is that you'd have only healthy cells in the final assembled product (assuming a healthy cell was picked as the template for each type).

      As mentioned teleportation of this sort is rather like a filesystem move operation - create a copy first then (presumably) destroy the original

      *** possible spoiler ***

      though one would hope this would be done more subtly and pleasantly than in The Prestige.

      1. Furbian

        Re: Compression / healing

        Oh, The Prestige, a warehouse full of....

        Reminds me of a European short film I saw as a child, where a similar solution was used to solve the problem of a man trapped in a phone booth... gave me nightmares.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Compression / healing

          I don't want to be compressed and come out with blotchy colours, jagged edges and pixelated!

          1. rciafardone

            Re: Compression / healing

            PNG would solve that...

        2. dave 76
          Thumb Up

          Re: Compression / healing

          "Reminds me of a European short film I saw as a child, where a similar solution was used to solve the problem of a man trapped in a phone booth... gave me nightmares."

          It's called La Cabina and was released in 1972 and still makes me nervous too - I always used to keep the door propped open with my foot after that, even though the bottom of the phone booth was open!

        3. Ed_UK

          Re: Compression / healing

          "Reminds me of a European short film I saw as a child, where a similar solution was used to solve the problem of a man trapped in a phone booth"

          This one?

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Compression / healing

        "As mentioned teleportation of this sort is rather like a filesystem move operation - create a copy first then (presumably) destroy the original"

        How quaint! A proper OS just moves the file pointer so the file "moves" to it's new location. No copying involved. Now that's teleportation!

        1. John Watts

          Re: Compression / healing

          I think we can consider a different planet to be analogous to a different partition (possibly on a different device).

        2. rciafardone

          Re: Compression / healing

          Dude, that only works on the same physical drive.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: Compression / healing

        The Prestige - yes, that film turned into something very interesting. As an alternative, try reading Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys - the original is destroyed by the scanning process, but then immediately re-constituted and held in sensory deprivation to share the experiences of the remote copy - until something nasty happens to the copy, anyway... and it does...

    4. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Re: Compression

      Agreed. On my home planet, we figured out long ago that the uniqueness of the atoms is immaterial. In other words, you only need to transport the location of each carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, etc, as every atom of a specific type & isotope is interchangable. In addition, no interstellar species would use puny microwave frequencies for teleportation, you use the highest frequency that will do the job, which usually means optical through gamma data links. So between the lack of uniqueness (and the resulting data compression) and the faster data links than you near-hunter gatherers can envision, its doable.

      Dealing with you hunter gatherers is a pain.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Compression

      "The calculation rather disregards the immense potential of compression..."

      No. That is not the point.

      As I pointed out in my reply (on page 2), the calculation rather disregards the immense potential of the TECHNOLOGY IN QUESTION. In other words - these fools missed being correct entirely.

      The Reg article states:

      "since the Star Trek-style teleport is between an orbiter and people on the surface of a planet, the students picked a 0.5 GHz channel in the 30 GHz band for their thought experiment... (emphasis mine)"

      but, as anyone is acquainted with Star Trek technology knows, the transporters don't operate at a low 30 gHz range.

      As the movie Star Trek:Generations proved, the shields themselves (which interfere with the transporters during operation) operate at a modulation frequency of 257.4 gHz - NOT the paltry 30gHz that the 'researchers' used in their thought experiments.

      And that is just the "modulation frequency".

      The theoretical "Federation" technology - again,, as anyone acquainted with the television series knows - operates in the terahertz range. The ACB - Annular Confinement Beam - which is part of the transporter system, allows full bandwidth within the confines of said beam upon transport lock. Read up on it at

      en.memory-alpha. org/wiki/Annular_confinement_beam

      Therefore, the researcher's mental exercise was not only complete and utter WASTE OF THEIR TIME, they also wasted OUR time by publishing their 'results' without proper due diligence of the source materials. The 'researchers' - and, apparently, I must use that term loosely - did not use the proper data rate transmission scale during their computations. They were WAY, WAY off. They base their claim of 'impossible Star Trek science' based upon a complete misunderstanding, and miscalculation, of the science in question and then write up a paper as 'definitive'.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Compression

      Only lossless data compression for me thanks. I am ugly enough without having my face turned into a Picasso style jumble of colored cubes.

      Star Trek frequently refers to "pattern buffers" and apparently the scanning in is destructive. You disappear when scanned, and are recreated from the pattern buffer at the other end. No space time worm holes involved.

      I know nearly nothing of neuroscience but as I understand it there are molecular/chemical states at synaptic junctions between brain cells that have a lot to do with memories and programming. Beyond that, again, I am not a physicist but I imagine eventually we'll learn that there are even quantum states involved in our brain.

      Transportation a la Star Trek is never going to happen. Getting every bit of me down to the spin of the last electron scanned and then rebuilt seems impossible. Uncertainty Principle and all that. Don't even need to calculate the data requirements.

      1. Steven Roper
        Thumb Up

        Re: Uncertainty Principle and all that

        Which is why the Star Trek transporter includes this little gadget called a "Heisenberg Compensator", of which, when asked how it worked, the Trek producers replied, "It works very well, thank you."

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Compression

        "Uncertainty Principle and all that."

        That's why in the STNG episode where they rescued Scotty from the pattern buffers he mentioned the use of Heisenberg Compensators :-)

    7. Mips

      Re: Compression

      And that is considering conventional compression. If the compression was to a power series the message could be quite short, certainly no longer than this comment, and it could also be transmitted by quantum entangled photons. So the message transmission is not the issue, it is the coding and decoding that would take the time, but it would never be as long as the student calculate.

    8. Thrud61

      Re: Compression

      Compression will be fine just so long as you don't get Xerox to help.

      "Well if it isn't my old friend Mr. McGregg—with a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg"

  2. Steve I

    You don't need that many bits - for a lot of the people I know all you'd need to send is a couple of medium-resolution photos and enough 'for rudimentary brain functions - just enough to say "What?" and "Where's the tea?".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Heh heh

      Yeah, I know people like that.

      On the other hand, uploading might happen before teleportation.

      The information stored in a human brain is holographic so even sending an overall description to a compatible (sent via conventional means) recipient brain in electronic form would probably work.

      Also relevant, if time isn't a factor then cloning is feasible ie on Mars, plus the clone could have DNA sequences built in that would never be allowed here on Earth such as radiation protection genes, adaptation to low gravity and other useful items.

      I did some research on mind uploading and the use of tuned MRI scanners that home in on the spin states in neurotransmitters such as glutamate is a promising first step as this could image the synapses in a way impossible to do with any other method as well as showing connection directions.

      The tricky part is maintaining spatial orientation as the connections jump around with pulse so using an SpO2 meter to take the snapshots on each T wave would be a good start.

      This method is already used on neuroscans to great effect, for the purposes of ensuring no image blurring.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Heh heh

        "I did some research on mind uploading and the use of tuned MRI scanners"

        That's an upload of my brain fsck'ed then. Got metal in my arm, so no MRIs for me:-(

        1. Jad

          Re: Heh heh

          TBH, if you're looking to "upload" yourself to a running autonomous copy, you can probably live without your arm ... hell If you're squeamish you can just make a copy of yourself locally with a new "fixed" arm.

        2. Martin Budden Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Heh heh

          That's an upload of my brain fsck'ed then. Got metal in my arm, so no MRIs for me:-(

          If we want to make a copy of you, we can chop that arm off first, then make the copy using a mirror image of the other arm :-)

      2. breakfast Silver badge

        Re: Heh heh

        So you're proposing that we use genetic engineering to populate Mars with minds immeasurably superior to ours?

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon

          Re: Heh heh

          "So you're proposing that we use genetic engineering to populate Mars with minds immeasurably superior to ours?"

          Yeah, and we all know how that ends, they invent time travel and invade Victorian England. Go for it, it's got to be better than the shit we have now.

          And unless you are sent immediately after the scan, you'll arrive and won't know why you're there!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Zip me up Scotty!

      How about dedupe?

  3. Robert E A Harvey


    I'd have thought that a successful teleport would require the position, energy, and velocity of every subatomic particle. Something the uncertainty principle says we can never know.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Heisenburg

      You can't know, but entanglement implies you can copy without actually knowing.

      1. wowfood

        Re: Heisenburg

        That's why you need a Heisenburg compensator.

        1. g e

          Re: Heisenburg

          And a buffer that takes a long time to degrade. Just in case.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            * Heisenberg


        2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Dave Oldham

      Re: Heisenburg

      When a technical advisor type boffin on the Star Trek team was asked, "How does the Heisenberg Compensator work?" Reputedly his reply was, "Very well, thank you."

    3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Heisenburg

      Yep, a typical 'Jeremy Kyle' guest could be saved on a floppy disk!

      1. Simon Westerby 1
        Thumb Up

        Re: Heisenburg

        SD, DD or HD?

        Preferably to be left in desk draw... without any loss to the world as we know it!

  4. <shakes head>

    just a thought

    the teleporter is not tranmiting information, if it did it would need equipment on the other end. it is a projection of matter? so in theroy this is not about information but matter projection, witht hte data processing being handeled localy with no need to transmit.

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: just a thought

      Yes, it's a matter transmitter not an information transmitter. In effect it's opening a sort of portal/wormhole/sciencey-fictiony-thingy between two points and moving the matter through.

      If it were scanning the original, transmitting the data and rebuilding at the other end, what happens to the original?

      1. Banksy

        Re: just a thought

        I don't think that's what Star Trek refers to. I think the technical manual refers to taking people apart atom by atom and I'm sure the neurotic character Reginald Barclay (and perhaps some other character) refer to not wanting to be taken apart.

        I agree though the alternative is some sort of wormhole/manipulation of space-time which doesn't rely on the data side of things.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: just a thought

          Yes. It comes up several times throughout all the various franchises that the teleporters in the Star Trek universe break people down atom by atom, store them in a pattern buffer and rebuild them, less any foreign illness at the destination point. In the horribly themed 'Enterprise' series the could only do inanimate objects for a while, the only experiments on living creatures up till that point had resulted in a few lost people (including the son of the guy who invented teleportation) and a dog.

          As an aside, it is also touched on that the teleportation tech is a big part of why nobody ever gets 'normal' diseases or infections. Unfriendly bits are not released from the pattern buffer and are destroyed after rebuilding the Human.

          I watched way, way too much Star Trek but I haven't read any manuals :)

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: just a thought

            Given that human cells are substantially outnumbered by bacterial cells in the gut, I'd hate to see what happens if one or t'other is subtracted from the output.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What if you ZIP it?

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Indeed, you better close your zip before. Not to risk your willy's kept out of the loop.

      1. Martin Budden Silver badge

        Why should you zip your fly when visiting Russia? Chernobyl fallout.

  6. Wing_Chun_Master

    I do like this..rational logical thinking.

    Gives me hope that it will one day be very possible by seeing something that the general boffin population of the day do not.

    People once thought that human flight would be impossible....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As far as I know human flight is still impossible. Machine flight however has come on leaps and bounds.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Human flight is fine; it's the landing that's problematic.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. TheDysk

          "Human flight is fine; it's the landing that's problematic."

          The art of flying is to launch yourself at the ground and miss.

          It usually helps if you get distracted at the last possible moment and therefore forget to hit the ground.

          1. Bod

            "The art of flying is to launch yourself at the ground and miss."

            Funny enough, that was how planetary orbit was explained to me by my science teacher. Well, to launch forward with enough speed that you always miss the ground.

  7. Milen
    IT Angle

    Conclusion - compression is beyond our means

    The authors conclude that "The requirements discussed in this paper illustrate that quick teleportation is beyond our means".

    After reading the paper, I conclude that the authors haven't heard of compression or caching. There is also an implicit assumption that the guys on Star Trek don't know what a brain is, so they need to recreate it at the quantum level every time they beam someone.

    IT angle: If you mention Star Trek in your Introduction, you better get your IT right.

  8. ben edwards

    Calling it a teleporter would be a misnomer. Since they're talking about copying/mapping, it would be a cloning system so there's bugger all impact on the original victim. Teleportation would require the literal deconstruction of the source.

    And isn't DNA in itself highly compressed like a zipfile?

    1. RISC OS

      And isn't DNA in itself highly compressed like a zipfile?

      Yeah the people who discovered DNA realised it's a "...highly compressed like a zipfile..." because an anoying popup appeared over the DNA they were looking at telling them that this is trialware DNA, and that if they want to upgrade to full DNA it will cost 19 USD.

  9. MegC

    Would it be quicker if:

    I see alot of talk about compression and that's gonna be needed don't get me wrong but wouldn't a quicker way to do this also be:

    Have a number of "default" human templates, match the subject to the nearest one then just transmit what is different to that template? Yeah there maybe alot different but even if you said that 30% of the subject was the same it'd say you about the universes age in time; a nice head-start for the compression people.

    For example if the machine was for transporting cars you would have 1 of every type of car loaded in then just transfer information like:

    -Subject is red, not black like the default.

    -Theres a dint on the drivers side door

    -The rear passenger side indicator light has a loose wire that in about 20 days will lose connection.

    Hell you could even say to the owner: "Give us £50 and I'll knock the dint out and fix your indicator you don't know is going to break yet enroute".

  10. Badvok

    Already Beaten That!

    Funny how we've been managing to transfer a lot more information than that into orbit in a matter of hours for quite some time now (over 50 years). All we need to do is speed it up by using some of that space/time warping capability.

  11. Just_this_guy

    "Rogue Moon". Algis Budrys. Nuff said.

  12. blofse

    To teleport, in theory..

    ..would you not need the ability to stop time?

    I mean a person can't exist twice in the universe otherwise you have created something from nothing and that can't happen.

    That is, if you believe the universe is finite, which I believe it is!

    (ps. please translate my layman terms, please educate my ignorance :-) )

    1. Just_this_guy

      Re: To teleport, in theory..

      Whether you can create something from a philosopher's nothing I could not say, and nor could he. But from a physicist's nothing you can create infinite numbers of infinite universes. Which is nice.

      1. blofse

        Re: To teleport, in theory..

        Well, that is if you believe infinity exists and by my statement that the fact that the universe is not infinite implies that infinity does not exist. So in my head, you cannot create infinite numbers or universes.

        1. Just_this_guy

          Re: To teleport, in theory..

          So, how many universes CAN we create? Is it more than fourteen?

          "O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a

          king of infinite space—were it not that I have bad dreams."

          - Yer man Hamlet

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: To teleport, in theory..

      You're point is cleverer than you intended.

      The receiver has a bunch of atoms which it rearranges to look like you, so it doesn;t create "something from nothing". The No Cloning Theorem means the original would be destroyed in the process, so there would never be two of you.

      But you're right, the transmitter would need to taken an instantaneous snapshot; if that's not possible (and it seems unlikely) then the image will be "smeared out over time" like a blurred photo. And because of No Cloning, unless the transmitter can accumulate and store that data very quickly, then the blood in your legs will be spraying everywhere because your upper body has disappeared.

      As to the other points: the universe is not spatially infinite (c.f. Olbers Paradox) but we don't know whether it has an end (i.e. it could be temporally infinite). And since every universe has its own space and time, it's not clear why there can't be an infinite number of other universes.

      1. Javapapa

        Re: To teleport, in theory..

        Quantum foam makes me roam.

      2. Steve K

        Re: To teleport, in theory..

        "then the blood in your legs will be spraying everywhere because your upper body has disappeared"

        Probably not, since the pumping mechanism will have disappeared with your upper body....

        Still going to be messy though.

      3. blofse

        Re: To teleport, in theory..

        Thanks for your comment. Thing is, all the points made in the original post are my own conclusions and I was not aware of the names of published/accepted theories, but I suspected there would be ones out there already :-)

        Now, if you don't believe time exists then that is where things get interesting and I agree with the term 'instantaneous snapshot'. I do believe time is not a time line in the common sense but it is a series of individual snapshots of the universe, and the time line as we know it (i.e. the sequence) is a series of bonded snapshots (not too far off a single negative image in a film, except n dimensional, like the human brain). I believe everything in the universe exists at the same time, and the bonded snapshots are chosen on atomic conditioning, but are loosely random (chaos).

        So, to stop time in my mind you would either have to travel faster than the speed of the universe, which in effect is faster than the smallest possible atomic movement (you would have to move so fast that no atom could move while transporting), or somehow pause everything else in the universe (i.e. stop the next atomic instance bonding). The former is most possible because the latter would possibly take an amount of energy greater than all of the energy in the universe, although in theory you could borrow that energy from the previous atomic instance.

        I still have not sorted it out in my head what happens when you suddenly get plonked somewhere else in the universe though, because in theory the atomic particle structure that was there has to go somewhere (assuming you can't make something from nothing and that everything exists at the same time). The only thing I can think is that you have to be constructed from the particles that are already there and that the original space you were occupied gets converted to the atomic structure to where you are going too (duplex transport).

        So maybe the amount of data in this report should double!

        So, I think unless a new line of thinking is formed or a new science is found, something which realises how to travel in time and transport at the same time, transporting looks off the cards.

        By the way, I was not assuming the transport would process you like a photocopier - 'blood in your legs will be spraying everywhere' - I was assuming it would be like terminator and you travel in a sphere. Except without the lightning. Possibly.....

  13. traceyfields

    obHHG2TG ref

    I teleported home last night

    with Rodney, Sid and Meg

    Ron stole Megan's heart away

    ... and I got Sydney's leg

    RIP Douglas Adams

    (no icon as sign of respect for one who was for me)

    1. Marco van Beek

      Re: obHHG2TG ref

      "It's unpleasantly like being drunk" "what's unpleasant about being drunk?" "Ask a glass of water". Damn, the man was good.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Transporter Malfunction

    I assume the David Starkey involved in the study isn't the result of some teleportation duplication error.

  15. John 110

    Trekker alert!!

    The ST:TNG episode where there was a malfunction and they ended up with two Rikers shows quite clearly that the Federation are lying about how the transporters work.

    The sending station sends basic info about you which allows the receiver to rebuild you using replicator technology (NOT mechanical bugs, that's Stargate) in the same way as Picard get a "tea, earl grey, hot" on demand. Then it kills you and hides the body (renders it down for rebuilding into the next guy to arrive, presumably)

    At the receiving end, a new you is replicated from the left over bits of the last guy to leave.

    So they store (as somebody up there suggested) a template then send that along with the mental state at the time of transport.

    This also explains why they can use transport technology to replace bits of you that have been gnawed off by aliens (we reconstituted him from the transport buffer, Captain)

    1. SirDigalot

      Re: Trekker alert!!

      That was a double confinement beam one reflected off the atmosphere and reconstituted Riker the other made it through so it is canon with the way transporters worked, they just did a double scan for error correction

    2. Bod

      Re: Trekker alert!!

      There was a short story or something based on this. Magic boxes people stepped into and were transported to the destination, until it was revealed the boxes made copies and the original person was killed.

      1. breakfast Silver badge

        Re: Trekker alert!!

        It is a classic philosophical question about personal identity, which I believe was reworked in to a sci fi story, perhaps several times.

        There is also a really good book/film where this is an element of the story but I don't want to say which one because if you watched the film it might count as a spoiler and I hate to spoiler people.

        1. Putters

          Re: Trekker alert!!

          Also explored in one of only two good cartoons (the other being The Cat Came Back" - )from the National Film Board of Canada

          "To Be" by John Weldon

      2. Eric Kimminau TREG
        Thumb Up

        Re: Trekker alert!!

        It was also a movie called "The Prestige".

    3. Eric Kimminau TREG

      Re: Trekker alert!!

      You have a failure in your logic. How does it work when you are transporting down to the first contact planetary surface and there is no "receiving station"?

  16. jb99


    Instead of sending a radio wave I'd set up an array of 25 billion lasers all in a grid. Make them tiny, out of LEDs. And then send the data in parallel. Keeping it in focus would be tricky but that's just engineering :)

    1. Just_this_guy
      Thumb Up

      Re: But...

      I was thinking 16 billion, but you obviously dream big.

  17. Joey


    Fact: there is no continuation of consciousness when you are teleported. The original is destroyed (duplication is not permitted by law). The clone IS an exact copy of the original with all the memories, warts and all but once you step into a transported, you die.

    How long would it take a 3D printer to recreate the clone?

    1. Just_this_guy

      Re: Fascinating...

      And thus the Kirk that steps out is not the one that steps in, but a complete stranger who's never been on a starship before. And they put him in charge!!

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Fascinating...

        The 'new' body can't be distinguished from the original and since the 'new' version also gets the memories they are considered not to have died. It is touched on that while the copies stored in the pattern buffer are not assembled into a conscious being, they remain alive, just compressed, as everyone suggests.

        1. Just_this_guy

          Re: Fascinating...

          ...implying that a "person" is ultimately information, not matter/energy. A dangerous route: the original human is destroyed, so there is no gold-standard 'backup'. If the error-checking fails in the brain-scanning process and I come through with one or two obscure false memories, even I wouldn't know. And then one day a Romulan aggressor pops up on screen, and I cry, "Aunt Ethel! You've come back!"

          Is this the future you want? Is it?

          1. Don Jefe

            Re: Fascinating...

            The 'gold-standard' is held in the pattern buffer until the transport is complete. There is real time error checking that allows the transport to be aborted and the individual reconstituted at the original location or held indefinitely in the buffer. That's how Mr. Scott saved himself in the TNG 'Dyson Sphere' episode. The original is not deleted from the buffer until the transport had been validated successful.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Fascinating...

          "It is touched on that while the copies stored in the pattern buffer are not assembled into a conscious being, they remain alive, just compressed, as everyone suggests."

          Wasn't there a Reg Barclay episode of STTNG where Reg claimed to have seen "creatures" while being transported. The final resolution being that the "creatures" were the survivors of an accident or something to do with why Enterprise was there and the heroes transported and "grabbed on" to the "creatures" and everybody was saved as they re-materialised? That implies some period of time while transporting during which the person is conscious in hyperspace or wherever.

          Also, in original Star Trek, wasn't the transporter originally called a "matter transporter" and later shortened to just "transporter"? That would also imply, as above, that the physical object or person is being moved in some way, not copied.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Fascinating...

      Fact: there is no continuation of consciousness when you are teleported.


      (I must say this story has produced some of the most mind-bogglingly bizarre and ill-conceived comments I've ever seen on the Reg. Where's David "snopes" Mikkelson when you need some good Trekker-trolling?)

  18. tony2heads

    500MHz bandwidth at 30GHz

    That is clearly not feasible. Try encoding a decent bandwidth (maybe 100THz) in the violet-ultraviolet region. That must be what all that lights that go with the beaming process is about.

    Add some lossy compression - and ...

    Still sounds impossible

  19. Graham Marsden


    Why use Radio when you have subspace?

  20. JimmyPage Silver badge

    "Spock must die !"

    Clearly no real trekkies here, or you would recall this novel (by James Blish, it was the first non-canonical story to be published, I believe).

    The plot centres around a Klingon operation to neutralise the Organians, by cloaking Organia in a tachyon field. They reason (correctly as it happens) that since Organians are beings of thought, they exist as tachyons. Therefore the tachyon field will constrain them, meaning the Organian Treaty can't be enforced.

    Meanwhile, far, far away, the Enterprise is safe from the war the Klingons are starting, and pondering why the Organians haven't interceded. They decide the only way would be to visit Organia. Unfortunately it's light years away, while the transporter only has range of 16,000 miles.

    Luckily Scotty has an idea about modifying the transporter to use tachyons. This results in a detailed description of how the transporter currently works, with a whole slab of philosophising thrown in for good measure, to loop the narrative back to the opening chapter where McCoy is grumbling that he's is reality "dead" because the transporter has dissembled him and ressembled him, and therefore he isn't the same person.

    Spock is chosen to be beamed to Organia. However when the transporter is energised, the tachyon cloak (which the Enterprise crew are as yet unaware of) reflects the beam, and a *duplicate* Spock is created. Unfortunately for the crew (but fortunately for the plot) Scotty had to shield the transporter pad with some protective material which just just happened to be opaque. So they couldn't tell who the original Spock was. It then transpires that the reflection process resulted in an "anti-Spock" whose mental functions were opposite to the real Spock, and whose motivations are to *aid* the Klingons, rather than the Federation. Of course much hilarity ensues.

    Hows that for a precis of a book I last read 25 years ago. Did I leave anything out

    1. Anonymous John

      Re: "Spock must die !"

      I could never understand why nobody immediately noticed that one Spock was wearing a mirror image badge.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: "Spock must die !"

        AIR it was because they were taken by surprise, given the anti-Spock a chance to swap ?

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: "Spock must die !"

        I could never understand why nobody immediately noticed that one Spock was wearing a mirror image badge.

        The novel is clearly ridiculous, as the anti-Spock lacks a goatee.

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: "Spock must die !"

      Poo on your novels. Canon is restricted to live action video, no animation either :)

  21. Anonymous John

    Back in the 1990s we were told that 56 kbps modems weren't possible. "The phone lines canna take it Captain!"

    1. Anonymous Coward

      V.90 was published in 1998. Very much in the 90s

      1. Anonymous John

        Whatever. That was from memory, but there were certainly claims that the maximum was far far less than today's ADSL speeds.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          there were certainly claims that the maximum was far far less than today's ADSL speeds

          And those claims were correct. They were simply based on assumptions that DSL technology discarded - in particular universal service and use of existing POTS loops and bandwidth. In other words, the claims were "you can't do that by modulating your POTS carrier", and they were right.

          DSL added a separate high-frequency carrier. It initially required a separate loop (until infrastructures were upgraded) - in fact it initially required a loop conditioned for ISDN BRI, so it was basically an asymmetric application of ISDN wiring - and it's still not available everywhere because the existing universal-service infrastructure can't support it.

          It had been known since the '50s that the copper twisted-pair wiring used for POTS local loops could be coaxed into carrying much higher frequencies, and thus much higher data rates. It's true that improvements in modulation, encoding, and signal processing necessary to make that bandwidth useful in the general case were developed later, and only really became available in the '80s; in that sense, earlier claims about the limitations of CTP wiring were superseded by technical improvements. But long before the ADSL patent, network engineers were well aware that CTP had unused bandwidth, even if they weren't sure how to make it usable outside the lab.

          But those were practical considerations. The paper discussed here goes almost to the theoretical limit for the frequency they picked - it's a completely different situation than with POTS and ADSL. Yes, you can quibble about the frequency; but then this is all a thought-experiment about a fantasy "technology", and complaining that the back-of-the-envelope calculations done by the students is unrealistic is like griping that someone's miscounted the number of unicorns in your herd.

          (And the ADSL patent was filed in 1988.)

  22. web_bod

    Teleportation could open up a can of legal worms :

  23. Banksy

    JimmyPage: Yes, that's the dilemma about the Star Trek transporters. Is it is the same person who comes out at the other end? Would you have continuity of consciousness? Could you rely on the report of the person who got out at the other end about whether they are the same person?

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      In the novel ...

      The first chapter is taken up with this very debate. McCoy worries if the "McCoy" post transporter has a soul or not. Spock finds such worries illogical, while Kirk has to go and meet the Umdorian ambassador in his quarters. Meanwhile Scotty points out that the soul is - by definition - indestructible, so McCoy should quite bitching like a girl, and get the next round in.

  24. David Pollard

    Quantum coherence

    Some might suggest that it's not just the relative location of the atoms that is needed but also, for a living creature, the state of their functional interconnectedness. A rough estimate of the data requirement might well be around one bit per cubic Planck length.

    This leads to an estimate of the order of 10^100 greater. Never mind the time it would take, there aren't nearly enough atoms in the visible universe to encode it.

    1. Just_this_guy

      Re: Quantum coherence

      Er, surely an elbow contains exactly enough atoms to encode all the information present in an elbow?

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge

        Re: Quantum coherence

        Except for MPs, where you might get the arse instead.

  25. SimonG


    How big is the buffer to store all that info?

    Or maybe you could have pattern legs, arms, etc at the destination and just transmit the delta!

    It is said that the whole of the human population has less genetic variation than a troupe of chimpanzees - giving great options for biological compression too

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Multiplexing

      Presumably the buffer is really, really big and I assume is also the limiting factor in the size of the transporter pads. The computer in TNG occupies 12 decks onboard the Enterprise so I'm guessing the hardware capacity is there...

    2. Javapapa

      Re: Multiplexing

      Is all this teleporting travel going to cost me an arm and a leg?

  26. John 48

    Not only compression

    but they seem to be ignoring coding gains in the transmission stage. They assume a symbol rate near the Nyquist limit, but then ignore the fact that multiple data bits can be encoded per symbol yielding data bit rates far higher than the actual baud rate. Even using today's 256QAM (as used in HD digital terrestrial broadcast), you would gain you another couple of orders of magnitude throughput.

  27. Bod


    It would probably be better to concentrate on some form of rapid cloning. You just need a simple DNA copy then and a machine that can grow a copy in minutes at the destination, and then transfer the memory into the copy.

    1. Just_this_guy

      Re: Cloning

      With like a USB3 port in the ear? It will probably copy out okay, but copying back will fail because the pathname is too long with \\CLONE\ at the start.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Teleporting to the Moon...?

    Seems like a heap of work when an 'Avatar' type idea would be much less costly or risky...

  29. Furbian

    R. Dawkins...

    ... might even decided that rather then just using a such a device to replace defective bits with healthy bits, he could also rid all those who he considers to be followers of an 'evil' ideology of their beliefs by changing bits of their in the process.

    It could be marketed as a 'Prevent' mark 2.

  30. darklordsid

    ... unless one does not get zipped ^___^

  31. Eric Kimminau TREG

    Rather than compression, de-dupe technology

    "We are all related" right? Since the vast majority of our bits are rather similar DNA, I would think after a couple thousand scans we start doing bit comparison and we come down to only transferring the difference bits rather than the entire model.

    Of course this will have the effect of modifying the gene pool, allowing us to identify the majority of cancers, infectious diseases and the like, eliminating those as well and eventually positive DNA and gene modification to improve physical appearance, mental acuity, sexual pheremones, etc so that we digitally transform our race into "super humans". Im also looking forward to having my body "de-aged" to my first scan every 20-30 years to extend my lifespan.

    Ill call this the science of transgenesis. Bring it on Scotty. Bring it on.

  32. Phil W


    I may be being stupid/naive here but....

    Could you not use a channel larger than 0.5Ghz? or multiple 0.5Ghz channels?

    surely a larger channels or more channels = more bandwidth

    more bandwidth = faster transmission.

    Feel free to point out to me why that doesn't make sense.....

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid is as stupid does?

    This is what you get by allowing "researchers" to make predictions WITHOUT ONE STITCH OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE SUBJECT.

    The researchers settled on a bandwidth for their estimation :

    "since the Star Trek-style teleport is between an orbiter and people on the surface of a planet, the students picked a 0.5 GHz channel in the 30 GHz band for their thought experiment"

    which, if you knew ONE SCRAP of Star Trek science, is completely WRONG. The transporters cannot be activated while the shields are up and, therefore, one must come to a reasonable conclusion that the shields and the transporters operate at conflicting frequencies.

    As anyone with a Star Trek background knows, the movie Star Trek:Generations displayed the shield modulation frequency: 257.4 gHz for the Enterprise D (at that moment). Choosing a 0.5 gHz channel in the 30gHz band is therefore IGNORANT of Star Trek science as almost all Trek tech operates in the terahertz range.

    Again, which you'd know if you actually watched the programs.

    So this entire article's premise is not only moot, but a joke. If you are trying to prove that the transporter, as shown in Star Trek, will 'never' work based upon bandwidth limitations then it would help if you used the actual bandwidth that would be available when the technology is implemented. Which they didn't, so they couldn't.

    1. Don Jefe
      Thumb Up

      Re: Stupid is as stupid does?

      Holy shit man! I can't tell if your passion is in jest or not, but hell yeah!

  34. Pen-y-gors

    and of course...

    you need to allow for the time and data storage for the obligatory NSA tap to take a copy of everyone/everything being transported....

  35. jubtastic1

    You're barking up the wrong simulated tree

    Transporting objects to any point in this universe can be accomplished by something somewhat more complex yet comparable to an SQL injection attack.

    Just make sure you start experimenting a way away from your home planet.

  36. Teleporter

    What if you drop connection? Half of your 'bits' floating in the ether due to someone knocking the transmitter!

  37. Smiles

    Missing the point

    I'm being lazy and not reading all the comments to see if anyone else got here first, if so my apologies:

    Let's assume technology HAS reached this point, and we can successfully scan at the relevant level of detail, plus recreate the tissues in exactly the same structure, can we actually rebuild the brain right down to the electrical impulses that control memory and be confident that the thought processes within will not change? Might I be transported an atheist and arrive thinking "Actually maybe this whole Intelligent Design thing sounds pretty convincing..."?

    Would we actually know a change like that had taken place?

    A lot of people are talking about compression, would you want your data compressed in such a way?

    Lastly, would anyone actually want to do this? Let's remember that you never actually "go" anywhere, this is the equivalent of a fax machine that shreds the original as part of the scanning process. A teleporter, by definition, kills you.

    Now, if it worked 100% perfectly that's not much of an issue, and while it's not ideal an accident where the message is lost/corrupted means you cease to be that's part of the risk too.

    But what happens if for some reason it fails to vapourise the original? Suddenly there are two of you, so do you put one to death? How do you pick one? Do you split their assets? What if you have a family, do you share the wife and kids?

    In my hypothetical space travelling future, I'll stick with the nice safe method of propelling myself through the heavens with a nuclear weapon.

    1. TWB

      Re: Missing the point

      There was a Radio 4 science fiction play about someone getting duplicated in error a few years ago - the woman was emigrating to Australia from UK to join her son and family there. Her 'original' self got stuck in the Uk but lost all her identity e.g. bank account, house, tax id etc etc. She travels to Australia and sees her duplicate who is blissfully unaware of the accident and an official eventually says words to the effect, 'get used to it, that [other duplicate] is you and everyone thinks it is'

      Quite interesting philosophically.

      My precis is a bit rough I know.....

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: Missing the point

      You can always tell who the copy is. Their combadge will be reversed.

      Failing that the 'You v2' will inevitably have rather dodgy looking facial hair and/or a shady glint in their eye...

  38. zapgadget

    Microsoft Teleport for Windows...

    "After You"

    Sorry, I've been saying this for years. I'll get my coat.

  39. Crinoid

    Well, it looks like they haven't computed the bandwidth when you send though "Sub Space" as the Trekkies do. When you send though a fictional medium, you get any bandwidth you need.

  40. dssf

    Copies likely will not be sent ahead of or instead of people...

    People want to enjoy this little thing called "direct, first-hand experience..."

  41. Tim Brown 1

    Bloody students

    Shouldn't they be doing something more productive with their time like getting drunk or watching Countdown?

  42. andrewj

    So when I get up off my arse and walk to the coffee machine (about 10 seconds), I'm achieving a transfer rate of 2.7 x 10^43 bits/minute. Cool.

  43. TWB

    I would not do it this way

    Based on the calculation I suspect teleportation this way will not work - I don't know how it might work but I remember being told digital TV would use too much bandwidth and widescreen would not work as the sets (CRTs) were too heavy.

  44. Jolyon Smith

    Everyone has missed the obvious solution...

    Just hash the data to be beamed then transmit the hash using it at the target site to do a look-up of the data required to re-materialise.

  45. Don Jefe

    Urination, Hangovers & Efficiency

    If you have to piss before you transport, do you still have to piss when you arrive at your destination? It seems like a rather inefficient use of bandwidth to transport waste matter.

    Same for a hangover. Would transporting instantly do away with your hangover?

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Urination, Hangovers & Efficiency

    Depends, yes I expect that the software if it detects any mass loss in transit it will compensate by harvesting water and salts from urine etc.

    This is why Ford said to drink 3 beers pre transport y'see,


    Also relevant, it might actually be more efficient to just transport the cells and not all the other stuff (ie gut contents, skin flora etc) and then re-colonise at the destination.

    The person at the receiving end would then not get holiday tummy etc because their gut flora would then already be adjusted for the conditions.


  47. Steve I

    Are they really...

    ...proposing matter transmission instead of transdimensional displacement of a remotely induced singularity? I despair...

  48. Steve I

    An ode...

    I teleported home one night

    with Ron and Sid and Meg.

    Ron stole Maggie's heart away,

    and I got Sydney's leg.

  49. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    There are ways to reduce that load.

    You don't need to send bowel and bladder content. And on one trip you could leave the appendix behind too...

  50. Imsimil Berati-Lahn

    Matter transporter

    I have a matter transporter in my shed.

    Most people call it a bicycle though.

  51. John Doe 6

    Yes we know...

    ...someone invented data compression for the same reason... 70% of the human body is water it could be compressed quite much. We would need lossless compression algorithm and some error correction but thats all folks. The Dream Lives on.

  52. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Very funny Scotty! Now beam down my pants!

  53. Justwatching

    just a thought

    As I am sure you know. All your ,and my , brain cells are all interconnected.The number of possible interconnections between one humans brain cells is calculated to exceed by a very large number the number of atoms in the known universe . So I think its safe to say that the researchers are out by the life's spans of many universes.

  54. Nibinaear


    Mehh... just use compression!

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do you think we use subspace comms bandwidth is almost unlimited. I know why you haven't discovered it yet, sorrey for the delay in repsonding it takes a while to reach us here

  56. dribblespit

    Why not use the Warp Field to go?

    This is assuming that Transportation is disassemble and reassemble atoms, instead of using a personal Warp Bubble to Teleport. Makes some sense since you already have the capability of Warp Field manipulation.

    Having said that I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

    But did spend some time in orbit.

  57. forcomment61


    Aren't we a little arrogant about what we think we know about the future? 200 years ago there had not been experimental evidence of the existence of atoms. Technology has come a long way since then. I'd be interested to know what new concepts have been discovered or new technology has been invented in the Star Trek era, 500 years from now.

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