“Beam me aboard, Scotty.”

I have a particular interest in edges. In a moral argument, I always ask, “Where is the extreme edge of this position?” This can often prove difficult. It quickly exposes those ideas which are simply fashion based or prejudiced.

So I considered the transporter concept in Star Trek. For those not familiar with the concept (cue jokes about which planet have you been living on) a beam locates an individual and does something to their molecules which allows them to be transported over great distances to another location where they are reassembled. If this were a reality, the problem in the technology would be in defining the edge of the object being transported.

For example, the person standing on the floor of the transporter would have to be differentiated from the floor. How could this be done?

The quantum laws are at odds with the Newtonian laws of physics. They simply can’t be reconciled. So with the transporter concept, this cusp between the two has to be dealt with. In the programme, there is a casual reference to the problem with the mention of a ‘Heisenberg compensator’, which is supposed to address this issue, but it doesn’t really do justice to the enormous complexity of the problem. With the interconnectedness of things, separating the floor from the soles of the boots of the person being transported is mind bogglingly complex. One can easily envisage a crew member having to replace a pair of boots regularly as each time they transport, they lose several molecular layers off their boots.

Also, a vacuum would be created at the instant of transportation and a mini sonic boom should be heard (but we don’t in the programme). Equally, where is the existing matter displaced when the objects are reassembled on the surface of the planet? How are they ‘moved aside’, rather than incorporated into the object?

Somebody has to ask these questions, otherwise, there will never be ‘progress’. If there is anything I have missed, please let me know.

One Response to ““Beam me aboard, Scotty.””

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