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A thought on teleportation.

If teleportation is ever invented and perfected, it could revolutionize space travel. Why even have any kind of craft that regularly launches from the surface? Sure, you might need to launch a few things now and then, if they're too big to teleport, or to easily teleport. But for the most part, most people and supplies could just be teleported into orbit. Like, launch a space station with a teleportation receiver the normal way, then teleport people and supplies up to the station. They could come and go as easily as driving to and from work. Put a specialized teleportation receiver outside of the main station (attached to the station) and you can teleport up (or over, from inside the ship) robots and other stuff to build things in space. Maybe even build other station modules up there. Or build craft meant to travel to the moon and Mars.

Another possibility, depending on the distance limit of the teleportation devices, one could use the first space station to make other stations in orbit, then tow them with a craft built in space to the next distance limit, and so on, building a series of stations to act as a bridge. You teleport from the surface of the planet to the station, and from one station to another until you could teleport to the moon or Mars or farther.

If the teleportation distance limit was greater, one could even teleport directly to the moon or Mars from Earth's surface, or from the first space station, once receivers are in place. If the limit was great enough, send a craft out into the void, and to the nearest extra-solar star. Then once it's in place, teleport a science team out there. If the signal goes out at light-speed, it would take them years to get there, but without the need for cryogenics or elaborate long term life support (such as artificial ecosystems and the like), also it would be without boredom, and they wouldn't age in that time either. Five years would pass for Earth, but only a second would pass for them. (Okay, so 10 years while Earth waits for the first signal to get back.)

On the other hand, since it's quantum science that's giving us our first possibility for teleportation to be real, maybe teleportation is instantaneous. In which case, we could be light-years away in seconds once the teleportation receiver is in place. That, and normal radio communications would be unnecessary and slow. Even if you couldn't teleport a data signal or 2-way communication in the typical sense, you could always put reports on a thumb drive or the like and teleport the thumb drive back home.

Then of course, once an extra-solar facility is in place, information from the science team could be used to determine whether or not, and how much, humans can/should build in that system. It would also be used to build another long-distance craft to go to another system.

One thing they would be wise to build at these extra-solar sites would be space telescopes, for viewing stars and so on from another perspective. The findings would be digitally recorded, copied to external drives, and teleported back to Earth.

With a system like that, how long would it take for humans to colonize our own solar system, and others? In a century, where would we be? And what advances could we make with the kind of information we'd gather from these explorations? If, instead of teleporting physical drives, we could have some kind of teleportation-based radio communication, maybe there could be an interstellar Internet. And wouldn't it be awesome to teleport to another star system for vacation? If we find a planet with life, or figure out terraforming, we could grow food offworld and teleport it home.

If communication signals could be teleported, it would also revolutionize telecommunications. No more wires, no more radio or TV or other airwave signals! Every possible use for communication could be done through teleported signals. The Internet even just on Earth would connect computers to one another via teleported signals. Hell, even computers themselves could operate that way, with micro-teleporters. They might even be quantum computers, making our current best computers look like difference engines by comparison.

Mining asteroids would be easy as fuck, too. Send a craft to an asteroid, have robots do all the work, teleport the mined materials back to Earth on a regular schedule. Humans would only be needed for maintenance.

There are implications for world travel too, obviously. Economic changes as people can travel around the world even more easily than before. Increases in tourism, but airlines would either go out of business or be forced to adapt. Many other means of transportation would be in economic dire straights. Jobs would be different, too, since you could teleport anywhere in the world to work. It would greatly affect the economy, because you'd have to compete for jobs from people all over the world. But trade would go up. And space travel would make a new place for the economy to expand into. Once the infrastructure is in place, resources from space would come in. Research stations of many kinds would pop up in space, flooding us with new information and technology. And we could ease the burden of overpopulation as more and more people go out into space. All these benefits would only increase as we went interstellar.

So in short, if we perfect long-distance teleportation, the only use for spaceships would be automated craft for exploration and to create stepping stones for human travelers, and everything would change. It will be just as big a leap ahead as fabber technology will.

Crossposted from http://fayanora.dreamwidth.org


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 9th, 2011 11:18 am (UTC)
some day I need to dig out some of Niven's stories on teleportation, and his essay "The Theory and Practice of Teleportation".
Apr. 10th, 2011 08:29 am (UTC)
You should really read the Hyperion novels, and what they show being done with farcasters. The entire civilization is linked by portals that are always open, connecting worlds seamlessly like doors connect rooms. I had a similar idea. Teleportals link worlds together in a similar way, and are used for terraforming. You were mentioning teleporting to Mars. Imagine how much faster terraforming would be if teleportation could be used to transport materials and solar energy. An array of portals could be placed around the Sun, teleporting solar radiation to Mars, making conditions comparable to those of earth - like proximity to the Sun. Water is teleported, perhaps from Europa or Enceladus. Greenhouse gases are teleported from Venus (biomembrane or nanotech filters can scrub out the sulfates) and plants/algae are teleported from Earth.

Buildings could be linked, so that they could function as if one single structure with rooms on different worlds! Energy can be teleported as well, so solar collectors could be placed around a star and the energy can be teleported to any world where it is being used. Probes can be remotely controlled from Earth (or another world) because FTL communication is possible if signals can be teleported.

Teleportation could even be used for transport of materials such as water, so that instead of plumbing, there is a teleporter at the end of each faucet and the water is teleported from somewhere else.

An interesting idea with some scary possible implications;

If micro - teleporters exist, perhaps they could be placed inside nanite machines. As a self - replicating swarm expands, all parts of the swarm can communicate with all others, regardless of distance. Each acts as one neuron in a giant brain. Imagine the intelligence it develops after consuming a few solar systems worth of matter. If teleporters operate like the ones on the starships in Star Trek (only one end of the teleport pathway needs to have a device - from there something can be teleported anywhere within a range), each nanite could teleport another anywhere. The swarm could spread without end.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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