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The Transporter in Star Trek vs. the Warlord Teleporter

  1. Mar 17, 2006 #1
    In Star Trek, the transporter is perhaps the most famous of all the technologies onboard the starship Enterprise. It's also the most absurd one of all because it involves separating crew members at the atomic level, converting them into energy, and the process is reversed at the appointed destination. In the excellent book entitled, "The Physics of Star Trek", author Lawrence Krauss explains why the transporter will never work in real life:


    "If you want to zap 10 to the 28 power of atoms, you have quite a challenge on your hands. Say, for example, that you simply want to turn all this material into pure energy. How much energy would result? Well, Einstein's formula E = MC2 tells us. If one suddenly transformed 50 kilograms (a light adult) of material into energy, one would release the energy equivalent of somewhere in excess of a thousand 1-megaton hydrogen bombs. It is hard to imagine how to do this in an environmentally friendly fashion. Finally, the binding energy that holds together the elementary particles, called quarks, which make up the protons and neutrons themselves is yet larger than that holding together the protons and neutrons in nuclei. In fact, it is currently believed, based on all calculations we can perform with the theory describing the interactions of quarks that it would take an infinite amount of energy to completely separate the quarks making up each proton and or neutron. Based on this argument, you might expect that breaking matter completely apart into quarks, its fundamental constituents, would be impossible and it is, at least at room temperature. However, the same theory that describes the interactions of quarks inside protons and neutrons tells us that if we were to heat up the nuclei to about 1,000 billion degrees (about a million times hotter than the temperature at the core of the Sun), then not only would the quarks inside lose their binding energies but at around this temperature matter will suddenly lose almost all of its mass. Matter will turn into radiation or, in the language of the transporter, matter will dematerialize."


    Krauss goes on about another problem with the transporter, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle which states that one can measure an atom's position and velocity at 100% accuracy, but never both at the same time. To observe one cancels out the other and vice-versa. Simply put, you can't observe something without interfering with it. Sort of like playing soccer or shooting pool.


    Here is another quote from him on transporters:


    "In order to transport a crew member back to the ship, the sensors aboard the Enterprise have to be able to spot the crew member on the planet below. More than that, they need to scan the individual prior to dematerialization and matter-stream transport. So the Enterprise must have a telecope powerful enough to resolve objects on and often under a planet's surface at atomic resolution. In fact, we are told that normal operating range for the transporter is approximately 40,000 kilometers, or about three times the Earth's diameter. This is the number we shall use for the following estimate. Everyone has seen photographs of the domes of the world's great telescopes, like the Keck telescope in Hawaii (the world's largest), or the Mt. Palomar telescope in California. Have you ever wondered why bigger and bigger telescopes are designed? Just as larger accelerators are needed if we wish to probe the structure of matter on ever smaller scales, larger telescopes if we want to resolve celestial objects that are fainter and farther away. The reasoning is simple: Because of the wave nature of light, anytime it passes through an opening it tends to diffract, or spread out a little bit. When the light from a distant point source goes through the telescopic lens, the image will be spread out somewhat, so that instead of seeing a point source, you will see a small, blurred disk of light. Now, if two point sources are closer together across the line of sight than the size of their respective disks, it will be impossible to resolve them as separate objects, since their disk will overlap in the observed image. Astronomers call such disks "seeing disks". The bigger the lens, the smaller the seeing disk. Thus, to resolve smaller and smaller objects, telecopes must have bigger and bigger lenses. We should therefore not be too disheartened by the apparent impossibility of the building a device to perform the necessary functions. Or, to put it less negatively, building a transporter would require us to heat up matter to a temperature a million times the temperature at the center of the Sun, expend more energy in a single machine than all of humanity presently uses, build telescopes larger than the size of the Earth, improve present computers by a factor of 1,000 billion billion, and avoid the laws of quantum mechanics. It's no wonder that Lt. Barclay was terrified of beaming! I think Gene Roddenberry, if faced with this challenge in real life, would probably choose instead to budget for a landable starship."


    Renowned science fiction writer Larry Niven expressed his views on the transporter:


    "I don't believe in bending space to order, and I wouldn't ride in a machine that annihilates me here, then beams away data that allows me to be exactly recreated somewhere else."


    Mr. Niven has wrote his theory on teleportation in one of his stories:


    "But I needed a theory that would allow instantaneous transportation and would still leave a passenger intact. What I came up with was a kind of super-neutrino. The displacement booth converts its cargo into an elementary particle of no rest mass, a relativistic mass equal to the weight of the cargo (for conservation of matter), an internal structure complex enough to carry the quantum states of every elementary particle in the cargo, and a neutrino's ability to pene_trate almost any barrier. I called it a transition particle."


    Unlike the transporter which converts people into energy, Niven's theory involves converting people into another state of matter. While this may initially sound good, it still would kill the person undergoing the process. But there may be another way to theoretically create a teleportation device: a multi-spatial transverse system.


    In 1998, the UPN network aired a tv movie entitled, "Warlord: Battle For The Galaxy", starring Rod Taylor (H.G. Wells's Time Machine from 1960). Anyway, Taylor played a soon-to-be-retired General in charge of a starship that was equipped with a teleportation device called the multi-spatial transverse system that worked by bending and folding space around the people traveling in it. It was mentioned that an older and primitive teleporter worked by scrambling peoples molecules, but there were too many accidents.


    This new form of teleportation was proven to be far more reliable and safer. There is a scene where his crew teleported from their bridge and the space around the crew began to get distorted. Anyone within the distortion field is safe because they are within an invisible force field. The distortion takes place outside of the force field. However, any attempt to step outside of the force field as the teleportation process in operation, the results would be most unpleasant. One minute they were on the bridge and the next, they were on the surface of a planet on a specific floor in a building.


    I must admit that I'm not very optimistic about teleportation, but I can safely say that it definitely will not be the Star Trek transporter way. Personally, I don't like the idea of having my atoms scattered about, being converted into energy and vice-versa because the process would kill me and create a clone at the destination. I'm more willing to bet that the Warlord teleporter is a far more realistic and plausble theory, considering that it is a variation of wormhole theory.


    What does everybody else thinks?


    Whitestar
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2006 #2

    disregardthat

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    i think star trek is boring
     
  4. May 21, 2006 #3
    :grumpy:
    "We are the trekies. Lower your remote and power up your Tv. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated and you will become a trekie."
    Doesn't the Star trek transporter requrire to break the laws of QM for it work and isn't alot of information required to store the infromation.
     
  5. May 21, 2006 #4

    Tide

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    Surely, you've heard of the Heisenberg Compensator haven't you?? :surprised
     
  6. May 21, 2006 #5

    Danger

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    Pretty words, my man. Now... tell me how it works. :tongue:
     
  7. May 21, 2006 #6

    Hurkyl

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    Very well, thank you for asking!
     
  8. May 22, 2006 #7

    rcgldr

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    Star Trek was full of plot holes. Why wasn't the transporter used as a weapon (tranport part of the hull of an enemy ship away)? In the episodes where bombs were transported, why re-assemble the bombs so they explode? There were a few times when objects were destroyed by transporting them with "widest dispersal", but this was rare.

    In one episode, (a piece of the action), the Enterprise stunned everyone in a several block area around the landing party. A lot of episodes would have lasted maybe 2 minutes if someone was bright enough to simply have an emergency stun every living thing near the landing party, then transport back the crew.

    Then there was the obvious, why no seat belts, especially during battles?

    Then again, there is a reason these shows are called science "fiction".
     
  9. May 22, 2006 #8

    Mk

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    Whoa... that would be like the nuke: one hit kill, expensive death machine.

    You could teleport ginourmous bombs directly into the path of a cosmovessel.

    This part sounds right to me.
     
  10. May 22, 2006 #9
    I've never liked the Star Trek transporter. It was just a way of saving production money by removing the need for expensive-to-stage shuttlecraft landings. Like Jeff Reid says, it creates all sorts of logic holes when you think about it. Who needs starships when you've got transporter technology? Or shuttle craft, or phasers for that matter. In addition it skirts around all the problems of copying. If I disassemble James T Kirk and reassemble him down on the surface of the planet, what happens if there's a glitch and another copy of him gets reassembled ten seconds later? What happens if the same happens again, and again, and again? And is this how food dispensers work? If so why don't the lifts work the same way. Or if somebody gets sick why not dissassemble them and apply a software patch to straighten things out, then re-assemble. Bah, there's all sorts of issues swept under the carpet in a most unsatisfying fashion.

    I would have been happy with the transporter if it worked by stretching space with somebody in a "bubble" that receded with perspective, then "popped" dropping them out at the destination. But not the way it is/was. Nope. Definitely not.
     
  11. May 22, 2006 #10

    Hurkyl

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    Sigh, you people have no imagination. :smile:

    It was used as a weapon -- for example, it has been used to beam tribbles onto a Klingon Vessel, and to transport rival faction leaders into empty space.

    In the Star Trek (ST) setting, is it even possible to transport a piece of an object?

    And besides, I imagine that starships are robust against having an 8 foot cube removed. :tongue:

    But anyways, "modern" starships are equipped with shielding that would block transporter beams.


    I don't remember these -- if I'm sending the bomb to you, you don't have any say in the matter. If you're beaming a bomb to yourself, you'd have to realize in time to stop the transport.

    That said, the ST:TNG transporters do have the capability to disable weapons in transport, and have done so on occasion.


    Sure, but it's easy enough to have the bomb find its own way there. I don't think your basic starship transporter can transport anything much larger than a photon torpedo!


    The people who want to go farther than their transporters will send them. I don't think the Federation could even transport people from Earth to Luna, let alone to other star systems!


    Different forms of transport have their own advantages and disadvantages. It's harmful to lock yourself into one mode of travel. :tongue:


    It happens. William T. Riker got copied, for example. But it's a generally difficult thing to do. Transporters simply aren't capable of copying people: they have to be operating on an original!


    I don't think so.


    Why would they? A turbolift is a perfectly reasonable form of transportation, and is much less likely to malfunction. And besides, some people simply don't like to be transported.


    The transporter buffers have been used to help cure people of various problems. But, as I said, the transporter has to be operating on an original -- all that can be done is some level of adjustment in the transport.
     
  12. May 23, 2006 #11

    rcgldr

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    Two whales and sufficient water to keep them alive (Star Trek Movie #4). That's quite a bit of mass.

    The Changeling - Kirk reveals to "Nomad" that he is not the creator, leading to Spock commenting to Kirk "your logic was impeccable, we are all in grave danger" as Nomad is about to self-destruct in order to sterilize itself. They transport Nomad outside and you see the big explosion.

    Also assuming that a missle or bomb was approaching, why not use the transporter to disentigrate it?

    This was done, the effects from an aging disease was reversed by using the transporter, twice, in the "Deadly Years" in the original Star Trek series, and "Unatural Selection" in Next Generation.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2006
  13. May 23, 2006 #12

    Hurkyl

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    Photon torpedos are pretty swift, aren't they? I thought transport at high relative velocities was a difficult thing. And are you going to get a lock on it before it strikes?

    And, of course, to even think about transporting it, you'd have to drop the shields... leading to disaster if you miss, or if your opponents were ready with their phasers. (Or if they wanted to abduct senior personnel with their transporter)


    I was thinking in terms of volume; an 8 foot cube was simply a rough estimate, and "cube" is simply easier to say than "rectangular prism". :smile: Sure, the aquarium was bigger than the torpedo, but I don't think it was orders of magnitude larger.
     
  14. May 23, 2006 #13
    Aw phooey, Hurkyl. I've read The Physics of Star Trek:

    http://rucus.ru.ac.za/~wolfman/Essays/Trek/trektalk.html

    "If using only the information, what do we do with the body? If just the information is sent, then the atoms of the body left behind must be disposed of, and a new set collected at the reception point. If you want to get rid of 10^28 atoms you have a problem. How about turning it into energy? Turning one 50kg person into energy would result in the energy in excess of a thousand 1-kiloton hydrogen bombs. Not exactly environmentally friendly...

    :smile:
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2006
  15. May 23, 2006 #14
    Actually, those quantum entanglements (which were observed in the laboratory) in regards to quantum teleportation could be considered to be Heisenberg Compensators! ;)

    Whitestar
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2006
  16. May 23, 2006 #15
    An excellent point, Jeff Reid! In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, there was an episode entitled, "Trails and Tribulations", where Captain Sisko and his crew travel back in time to meet Captain Kirk (the footage from the classic episode, "The Trouble With Tribbles"), where Sisko beams out a dead tribble attached with a bomb into space that was meant for Kirk. By converting both the tribble and the bomb into energy, he essentially created an explosion and reconverted the energy of the tribble and the bomb back into matter, only to do it again when they beamed out into space and exploded. Which basically means he created two explosions instead of just beaming out into space, thus, creating only one explosion.

    Sounds a bit redundant, not to mention ridiculous eh? :tongue:

    Whitestar
     
  17. May 23, 2006 #16
    Exactly! That's why I think the multi-spatial transverse system in the tv movie, "Warlord: Battle For The Galaxy" is the best and only way to go. Although the movie was so-so, the special effects (especially where the teleportation process was concern) was quite good. :cool:

    Whitestar
     
  18. May 24, 2006 #17

    rcgldr

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    Doesn't have to be a good lock, just enough to be able to scatter it with the transporter.

    Use tractor beams to guide / control transporter devices outside the shields. Note that these transporters only need to do one conversion and scatter the remains.

    How does the transporter work in the first place, what form of energy is it using to lock and then convert matter / energy?
     
  19. May 24, 2006 #18

    Tide

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    I was thinking more along the lines of squeezed states but entanglement works too! :)
     
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