The Three Types of Matter Teleportation
1. There is an technology device, circle of stones, or magic spell that allows for a hole in the fabric of space/time that can transport Schrödinger's Cat from Point A to Point B in a complete whole state.
2. There is nearly-magical machine that breaks down Schrödinger's Cat molecular at Point A and then is reassembled bit-by-bit at Point B.
3. In the 3rd type of matter teleportation, Schrödinger's Cat is broken down and the pattern of the kitty is sent to Point B and reassembled there using raw materials on the other side...like a biological 3D printer or fax machine.
The Most Common Names of Matter Transmitters
As we have discussed many times on FWS, creators often throw around various terms for machinery that accomplishes similar purposes, and that can be applied to sci-fi matter transmitters. Here is a list of the most common terms used for matter transmission and their differences.
The Portal Projector/Portal Gun
Transmitter and Receiver vs. the All-In-One-System
When it comes to the standard concepts of teleporter technology, there is often two pieces: the matter transmitter and the matter receiver; much like a radio. These two pieces allow for limitations of this powerful technology that blocks a wielder of the teleporter to rule over the Earth like a god or Rick Sanchez. If the item needing to be teleported has to be placed through a transmitter to a receiver to cover the distance, you have to possess the two pieces and keep them secure…hence the plot of way too many Stargate episodes and the 1994 movie. If you are to have a teleportation system that does not rely on either the transmitter or the receiver; then you have a powerful weaponized system that can overwhelm the society that constructed it as the article on Atomic Rockets points out. Let us consider the following on these systems. With just a teleporter receiver, this system could be used, with powerful enough scanners or the correct intelligence, to bamf! away any object or person that is in range. No more organs, gold, key general, or the super-secret war machine. It just goes away to be taken by your enemy. You are dickish god able to steal all of the candy away from the babies…or nuclear weapons. With just the transmitter, you become a mad bomber, able to beam in countless bombs, hordes of locust, Borg drones, or red shirt security officers. The very familiar Star Trek transporter is such an example of an all-in-out-teleporter-system that can and does operations like this. However, for the sake of the integrity of the story and the very universe, there are limits placed on the Transporter, like shields, range, computer crashes, and supernatural phenomena.
The Harsh Reality of the Transporter
The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and Schrödinger's Cat
Is It an Transporter, Cloner, or Suicide Machine?
Many articles on the subject of the real science and harsh reality related to sci-fi devices like the Star Trek transporter often bring up an uncomfortable point-of-view on these magical plot-device instant travel machines: are the transporters actual a suicide machine? We know that for the transporter to function as seen on screen, it must breakdown the molecular structure of an object, then transmit it, then reassemble the object at its desired location. Some articles and videos online claim that the “original” person being transported from the Enterprise down to the planet surface is actually killed and a copy emerges on the planet surface. To some, this means that every time Captain Picard steps into the transporter, he is committing suicide over and over again...willingly. Some have argued that what if the person's mind is the element that is wiped out in the break-down and reconstruction process. If the body gets broken down to its a molecular pattern and teleported, does the mind, memories, and emotions follow? Would the person be mentally the same when they rematerialized? Are they clone of the original? These questions are still more in the hands of philosophy and science fiction than in the realm of science, because we simply do not know.
FTL Portal Space Travel and Jumpgates
The Importance of Setting Limits (as seen in Star Trek)
The Military Application of Teleportation Technology
94% fuel and 6% payload”. Teleportation could eliminate the need for heavy launch facilities and the rockets. Instead, you would just beam up the rations, coffee, foot powder, and laser gun batteries in the blink of an eye from surface to orbit then back again once you reach the target planet. While the energy saving may not work out over rocket space transportation, the time would.
In addition, depending on the type of matter transmitter, you may not even need the orbital platform. Your army, its hardware, and supplies could instantly deploy from their home base of operations and portal over to the enemy frontlines…instantly. But, that is simplistic application of the technology…we all know that and have seen that in other sci-fi works. Imagine if you had the intelligence information and scanning technology to lock on and teleport the organs out of the supreme commander of your enemies’ military? How about transporting a bioweapon into the water supply of the capital city? Removing the processors of the key computers that run critical systems of your enemies’ society or their defense grid? All could be done with a teleporter technology and few keystrokes. Even just popping over nuclear devices with 2 seconds on the detonator clock onto the command centers of their warships is an easy way to end a space battle.
This was seen when the Daedalus battled the Wraith hive fleet in Season 1 finale of SG:A. However, these scenarios are depending on Star Trek like transporters or portal gates.What if we were to alter the technological specifications of the matter transmission equipment to where the hardware of transmission and reassembly has to be constructed prior to use? No more orbital mothership beaming down shocktroopers and mecha to your occupy your neighbor Starbuck’s or pulling the heart of out of the senior military leadership. Instead, to teleport an invasion force onto their homeworld, you to physically assemble an exit portal gate on their home dirt...and therein lay a major strategic problem In order to teleport the army on mass to the planet surface, a convention planetary insertion would have to be mounted with the specialized unit of gate/port builders to form a “teleport beachhead” on the enemies’ homeworld. More on that concept below.
The Strategic Impact of Teleportation Technology: "Demons of Air and Darkness"
Imagine that the Dalek Empire could simply teleport millions of those angry, tin-plated murder-happy pepperpots that have intergalactic genocide on their mad little minds onto the streets of every major city on Terra? For the most part, the invasion is over and the occupation has already began giving credence to the concept of the “7 hour War” from the Half Life universe. What would the strategic impact of having a military armed with matter transmitter technology be? If we are framing this with Star Trek style transporters, we can see that immediately that the basic concepts of warfare are altered. Hardened strategically important locations on the planet surface are accessible in ways that relegate walls, minefields, gates, and other physical barriers meaningless.
Take for example that your enemy’s super-secret C3 center is located in a mountain range that is imposing geographically and any conventional attack would come at a high cost? Beam a few Daisy Cutters into the primary structure and problem solved. Given this, the question becomes does this mean that you cannot run or hide from the finger of god like power that the teleport bestows on your enemy? Maybe. I think it comes down to the enemy’s reconnaissance capability, intelligence gathering, and surveillance technology. Just using Google Earth to examine a foreign major city and see if you can pick out the likely targets for either ordnance delivery or inserting Special Operations units.
One Possibility: The Gate Construction Operation Teams (GATECON)
The Love/Hate Relationship that Star Trek has with their Transporters
Science Fiction and the Matter Transmitter
From the Fox Mulder Corner: Real-World Teleporters?
Given my life-long love for all manner of conspiracy theories and paranormal subject matter, it was a natural fit to discuss the popular tales of real-world teleportation and secret government experiments associated with teleportation.
The Montauk Project
The 1943 Philadelphia Experiment
1593 Transported Soldier
The Stargate of Amaru Meru
The Portals of Skinwalker Ranch in Utah
Examples from Sci-Fi:
The Transporter from Star Trek
One of the bedrock concepts that set the original Star Trek TV show apart from other science fiction at the time, the transporter, was original (and oddly) developed as a cost-saving plot device by the production to prevent from having a shuttle sequence. While teleportation was a concern familiar to every sci-fi back in the 1960’s, it was the transporter of the USS Enterprise that set the concept of teleportation ablaze in the minds of the general public. After all, could it be Star Trek without a transporter? While the in-universe explanation of the original of the transporter was fuzzy until ST:ENT, the real-world explanation was well established by the Great Bird of the Galaxy himself.
Rick Sandez’s Portal Gun from the Rick and Morty Universe
The Stargates from the Stargate Universe
The Iconian Gateway System from the Star Trek Universe
Galactic Federation FTL Portal System from the Rick and Morty Universe
The Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device from the HL/Portal Universe
Beaming Nukes from the Stargate Atlantis episode "The Siege Pt. 3"
The Transfer Discs from Xenophobe
One of my favorite arcade games of the all-time is 1987’s Xenophobe by Bally/Midway that was three-player side-scroller shooter that fully capitalized on the popularity of ALIENS. Ported to every major system including the NES and ATARI 7800, Xenophobe featured an intrepid band of humanoids battling to clear the various forms of aggressive Xeno infestation from shuttles, starships, stations, and moonbases. These interstellar bug stompers are transported from site to site via a cool-looking ship that is equipped with a unique form of matter transmitter: the transfer disc. These small saucer shaped short-range craft de-materialize the player’s character, and transverse the distance between the ship and the infestation site. The player’s character is reassembled when the transfer disc enters into the infestation site. How the transfer disc enters into these structures is unknown and never shown…which means I am likely overthinking this.
The Liberator Teleporter from Blake’ 7
One of my personal favorite teleport devices in space-centered sci-fi was the Liberator teleporter from the classic British sci-fi show, Blake's 7. It was handled well within the show and had the use of these special bracelets to allow for the teleporter to work. Without the bracelets, the process could not work...which allowed for an excellent plot device element. When the teleporter is first discussed in the show, 1x03 "Cygnus Alpha", it seems that Avon and Blake worked on a matter transmission project that used a special alloy. The special effect used for the Teleporter were viewed as cheap, but they have a certain charm like the SFX on the classic Dr. Who and they were unique that set this teleporter away from Trek.
The ENCOM SHV 20905 Digitizing Laser from TRON and TRON: Legacy \
The Sky Vault Space Station Transporter Beam from The Centurions
The Vidiian Organ Harvesting Transporter-Weapon from ST:Voyager
Teleporter Technology from They Live (1988)
In one of the finest sci-fi movies of the 1980’s is 1988’s They Live and it has developed into full-blown cult classic. In the film, the aliens are able to use wrist device that look like watches that open teleportation portals. At another point in the film, our two heroes encounter a human collaborator that assumed that our heroes are part of the conspiracy and brings them down into an underground alien spaceport hub. Using some sort of gravitation lens, the aliens and human collaborators are able to move from world to world without starships.
The Mirror Universe Tantalus field from ST:TOS "Mirror, Mirror"
In the Original Series iconic episode "Mirror, Mirror", one of the more horrific devices used by the Terran Empire to instill fear and obedience was the Tantalus Field. Mounted in the Captain's quarters, the Tantalus Field was designed to kill and leaving no trace, causes fear in the survivors. Little was mentioned on how the device worked, it was based on Transporter technology that allowed the captain of the ISS Enterprise to eliminate anyone they wanted. While the Tantalus Field was not seen again in any of the other Mirror Universe TV episodes, it was recycled in some of the books and comics. In the original DC Star Trek Comic, The Empire invades our universe and the Tantalus Field is used to disable the Imperial captured USS Excelsior by the ISS Enterprise and even to power the saucer section of the ISS Enterprise. This story that spanned 8 issues from 1984-1985 were some of the best in the entire classic ST DC Comics run. I actually bought these during their original printing and it was my favorites among the original DC series.
The Folding of Space by the Guild Navigators from the DUNE Universe
The Monster Door Portals of Monster Inc.
The Bodyslider Teleporter from the X-Men Universe
Bodysliding is the instantaneous transportation of living tissue from any location to a set of pre-programmed coordinates”. I first came across this concept in X-Force#1 and it stayed with me as an interesting example of a transporter that is not always tied to Mutant ability. However, since this the Marvel comic universe, the concept of “Bodysliding” is mentioned being a Mutant ability of Cable’s or even Deadpool’s? However, in the comic I read that involved the Bodyslider, Cable would say “Bodyslide by six” and they would teleport in a fashion similar to the ST Transporter, but with a cooler name.
The Space Bridge from the Transformers Universe
The Cylon Resurrection Technology from tBSG
The UAC Teleporter Device from the DOOM Universe
The Breach from Pacific Rim
We always thought alien life would come from the stars, but it came from deep beneath the sea; a portal between dimensions in the Pacific Ocean". In the film, various Kaiju emerge from the icy depths of the Challenger Deep, near Guam due to a interdenominational portal-rift that connects Earth to the "Anteverse". This was an cool take on where the monsters come from and I thought it was on of the more unique portal examples in military sci-fi.
The Sikarians’ “Spatial Trajector” from the episode “Prime Factors” from ST: VOY
The JLA Teleporter from Justice League of America Comics
During my 1980’s random comic book buying, I owned a few JLA comics and I noticed the usage by the JLA of a teleporter tube in the comics that seemed mostly based on their space station: the Justice League Satellite 1. This was used to teleport the JLA members around the surface of Earth nearly instantly, but the technology was not always reliable. At times, the destination was not the same as intended...like the TARDIS. The JLA teleporter was believed to have been based on Thanagar or Martian technology.
The Hellmouth from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Universe
The Hanen Interstellar Transportation Device from Think Like a Dinosaur
There can be no discussion of sci-fi teleportation without the inclusion of the famous Mutant Nightcrawler ability to BAMF! While limited in range, Nightcraweler’s teleportation abilities are formable due to this intelligence, hand-to-hand skills, and experience that also level beyond a smell of brimstone due to the dimension that he pops in and out of during the teleportation process. Within the realm of geek/nerd culture, the BAMF! sound effect is an iconic one that is used often in conjunction with disappearing or teleportation. The sound effect was a result of the air being alternated due to Nightcrawler’s teleportation. During my days in the D&D world, we used to say “BAMF!” when someone or something was teleportated…and we all understood the reference. Good times.
Next Time on FWS...