Ever since the wheel was invented more than 5,000 years ago, people have been inventing new ways to travel faster from one point to another. The chariot, bicycle, automobile, airplane and rocket have all been invented to decrease the amount of time we spend getting to our desired destinations. Yet each of these forms of transportation share the same flaw: They require us to cross a physical distance, which can take anywhere from minutes to many hours depending on the starting and ending points.
But what if there were a way to get you from your home to the supermarket without having to use your car, or from your backyard to the International Space Station without having to board a spacecraft? There are scientists working right now on such a method of travel, combining properties of telecommunications and transportation to achieve a system called teleportation. In this article, you will learn about experiments that have actually achieved teleportation with photons, and how we might be able to use teleportation to travel anywhere, at anytime.
Teleportation involves dematerializing an object at one point, and sending the details of that object's precise atomic configuration to another location, where it will be reconstructed. What this means is that time and space could be eliminated from travel -- we could be transported to any location instantly, without actually crossing a physical distance.
Many of us were introduced to the idea of teleportation, and other futuristic technologies, by the short-lived Star Trek television series (1966-69) based on tales written by Gene Roddenberry. Viewers watched in amazement as Captain Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy and others beamed down to the planets they encountered on their journeys through the universe.
In 1993, the idea of teleportation moved out of the realm of science fiction and into the world of theoretical possibility. It was then that physicist Charles Bennett and a team of researchers at IBM confirmed that quantum teleportation was possible, but only if the original object being teleported was destroyed. This revelation, first announced by Bennett at an annual meeting of the American Physical Society in March 1993, was followed by a report on his findings in the March 29, 1993 issue of Physical Review Letters. Since that time, experiments using photons have proven that quantum teleportation is in fact possible.