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The need for telepathy in Sci-Fi?

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  • #46

    Ooookay, havent seen season 4 yet, so I may have to stay away from this thread, too hot to handle..


    • #47
      While it hasn't really been brought up yet, it looks like scientists may have actually licked teleportation! (Sort of)

      From the New York Times

      Scientists Teleport Not Kirk, but an Atom

      Published: June 17, 2004

      And the beryllium atom said to the Starship Enterprise, beam me up!

      Two teams of scientists report today that for the first time they have teleported individual atoms, taking characteristics of one atom and imprinting them on a second.

      In physics, teleportation means creating a replica of an object, or at least some aspect of it, at some distance from the original. The act of teleporting always destroys the original - not entirely unlike the transporters of the "Star Trek" television shows and movies - so it is impossible produce multiple copies.

      The prospect of using teleportation to move large objects or people remains far beyond the current realm of possibility. But it could prove an important component of so-called quantum computers. Scientists hope that one day such computers will tap quantum mechanics to solve complex problems quickly by calculating many different possible answers at once; computers today must calculate each possibility separately.

      The two teams, one at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo., and one at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, worked independently, but the experiments were similar, using a process proposed by Dr. Charles H. Bennett, a scientist at I.B.M., and others in 1993.

      "This will be an important part of attempts to build quantum computers," said Dr. H. Jeff Kimble, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology. He co-wrote a commentary accompanying the two research papers on the experiments, which appear today in the journal Nature.

      "This is a complicated thing that begins to work," Dr. Kimble said. "We've reached this point on our journey and it's really quite significant."

      Several scientific groups, including one led by Dr. Kimble, previously teleported photons, and scientists at the University of Aarhus in Denmark reported in 2001 that they had teleported the magnetic field produced by clouds of atoms.

      In the new experiments, both teams of scientists worked with triplets of charged atoms trapped in magnetic fields. The Colorado team used beryllium; the Innsbruck researchers used calcium.

      The feat of teleportation is transferring information from atom A to atom C without the two meeting. The third atom, B, is an intermediary.

      The three atoms can be thought of as boxes that can contain a 1 or a zero, a bit of information like that used by a conventional computer chip. The promise of quantum computers is that both a zero and a 1 can exist at once, just like the perplexing premise described by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schr├Ědinger in which a cat in a box can be simultaneously alive and dead until someone looks inside.

      First, atoms B and C were brought together, making them "entangled" and creating an invisible link between the two atoms no matter how far apart they were. Atom C was moved away. Next, A and B were similarly entangled.

      Then the scientists measured the energy states of A and B, essentially opening the boxes to see whether each contained a 1 or a zero. Because B had been entangled with C, opening A and B created an instant change in atom C, what Albert Einstein called "spooky action at a distance," and this, in essence, set a combination lock on atom C, with the data in A and B serving as the combination.

      For the final step, the combination was sent and a pulse of laser light was applied to atom C, almost magically turning it into a replica of the original A. Atom A was teleported to atom C.

      "It's a way of transferring the information," Dr. Rainer Blatt, leader of the Innsbruck team, said.

      A quantum computer could use teleportation to move the results of calculations from one part of the computer to another. "Teleportation in principle could be done pretty quick," said Dr. David J. Wineland, head of the Colorado team, noting that directly moving atoms containing intermediate results would almost certainly be too slow.

      In the current experiments, the teleportation distances were a fraction of a millimeter, but in principle, the atoms could be teleported over much longer distances. The teleportation was also not perfect, succeeding about three-quarters of the time.

      "We're not doing very well yet," Dr. Wineland said. "All of these operations have to be improved."

      Teleporting a much larger object, like a person, appears unlikely, if not entirely impossible, because too much information would have to be captured and transmitted.

      "It's certainly not useful for any beaming in the 'Star Trek' sense," Dr. Blatt of the University of Innsbruck said. "Consider even some molecules or something small like a virus. I cannot imagine it. As far as I can see, it's not going to happen."
      Got movies?


      • #48
        Re: The need for telepathy in Sci-Fi?

        Originally posted by Vorpal
        The holy trinity of modern science fiction seems to be: Faster than Light (FTL) travel, humaniod aliens and telepathic powers. There are few series which pull it off well.
        Correction: Modern *VISUAL* science fiction (or as I prefer: futuristic fantasy)*. If you read science fiction books, the aliens are definitely NOT human and telepathy is rarely employed.

        As for FTL, this is based on the reality that pausing a story for 100 years while the heroes travel between stars is not really practical. Although I HAVE read science fiction which did not have warp speed or gates, and they handled the issue very, very well.

        Examples: The Mote In God's Eye, The Forever War.

        * Futuristic fantasy = A show like Trek or Star Wars that violates basic science. They are basically fantasy, but instead of wizards you have Spock, instead of swords you have rayguns, and instead of magic you have techno-babble.

        Example: Andromeda = Hercules in the future.

        Originally posted by Vorpal
        There is only one sci-fi genre that I know of that does not use aliens - that is the Battletech universe. Very interesting.
        Asimov's Earth/Robot/Foundation novels did not have aliens. Humanity conquered the entire galaxy, and not one alien was discovered. He focused on exploring ideas *within* the human community.

        Originally posted by Z'ha'dumDweller
        I noticed that later in his carrer, Heinlen turned into something of a dirty old man. Look at the premises of some of his later books.
        Heinlein was also a dirty *young* man... it's just that 50s-era morals censored his work. Once the 60's liberation happened, Heinlein was free to expose his true self.
        Last edited by RCmodeler; 06-17-2004, 12:39 PM.


        • #49
          I'd like to remark that the article specifies that this teleportation means replicating an object by transmiting information, not actual "beaming" of matter.

          I remember reading an article about Quantum Teleportation at Scientific American (published in April 2000, not available online for free), one of the problems with "teleporting" larger objects is that the quantum entanglement required is very unstable and easily perturbed by interactions with matter.
          Many years down the road that may change.

          Note that physicists call this teleportation (even if it's information, not matter that is transmited) because from their point of view if a particle has the exact same quantum state that another they are indistinguishable. In the example from the article atom C becomes indistingusihable from atom A after the experiment (same quantum state). But are they the same?
          If this were applied to larger object (let's say it's a Ball on New York) you would have to have some collection of atoms in the receiving end (let's say Los Ageles) that would reassemble into the Ball. The original ball would however become a random collection of atoms in the process. Is the ball now assembled in LA the same thing as the ball that existed in NY?

          Now that I think about it, an ansible ("instantaneous" FTL comunication) could be possible by quantum "teleportation" without postulating tachyons...

          Heinlein was indeed a dirty man, which wasn't that bad really... and to tie him in to B5 here's this:
          What if the Babylon 5 arc was written by Heinlein?

          -- Talia and Ivanova would be sleeping together from the beginning...
          -- this would surprise no one, for everyone else would be sleeping together as well...
          -- did I mention they'd all be related?
          -- Mars rebels would be throwing large chunks of rock at Earth...
          -- every female on the show would possess multiple doctorates...
          -- every female on the show would be pregnant...
          -- Franklin would spend most of his time gene-splicing (see above)...
          -- Garibaldi would spend most of his time arguing with his (sentient) computer...
          -- Sheridan and Sinclair would *both* have discovered that they were long-lost by-blows of Lazarus Long...
          -- What other races? Humanity would have exterminated them long ago!
          I took that from the B5 humor page at
          I had read it long ago, (while the series was still running!) I took the liberty of updating the first line, I think it could be fun to update/extend that now that the series finished...

          Asimov is another author on that list of "B5 by other authors."

          Asimov wrote a book called "The Sensuous Dirty Old Man" and published some collections of lecherous limericks... Heinlein wasn't the only dirty old man among the classic golden age SF authors.

          I once read that Asimov made his Foundation universe free of aliens because John W. Campbell had very specific requirements for aliens with which Asimov didn't want to accept (specifically Campbell was a bit of a racist that insisted that all aliens had to be shown as inferior to humans). This does not diminish in any way how he ended using that to explore humanity alone, but is an interesting piece of trivia.
          I mentioned before that the Second Foundation Trilogy by Benford, Bear and Brin has an explanation for the all-human galaxy and also tightens the conections between the Positronic Robots and Foundation universes.
          Such... is the respect paid to science that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recalls some well-known scientific phrase
          James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79)


          • #50
            <<Asimov wrote a book called "The Sensuous Dirty Old Man" and published some collections of lecherous limericks... Heinlein wasn't the only dirty old man among the classic golden age SF authors.>>

            And I plan to be one of those dirty old men of the modern era.

            Funny stuff.
            Recently, there was a reckoning. It occurred on November 4, 2014 across the United States. Voters, recognizing the failures of the current leadership and fearing their unchecked abuses of power, elected another party as the new majority. This is a first step toward preventing more damage and undoing some of the damage already done. Hopefully, this is as much as will be required.


            • #51
              Asimov is another author on that list of "B5 by other authors."

              Asimov wrote a book called "The Sensuous Dirty Old Man" and published some collections of lecherous limericks... Heinlein wasn't the only dirty old man among the classic golden age SF authors.

              List? What list? Can you post it?

              As a matter of fact, I have recently borrowed the Foundation books from the local library, and I'm just getting into #2 now. For a series written over half a century ago, it aint bad!

              A few differences you see from other areas in sci fi; it relies more on probabilities and subtle politics to solve epic crisis than warfare and heroics, scoffs all religion and the main characters die regularly only to be replaced by new ones! For a writer who mainly deals in short stories, its premise is a convenient one.

              Further, when heroics are used, the main characters end up looking desperately amateurish, only to be overrun by events far beyond their realm of influence. Plenty of suspence, solid writing and pacing, so far, I like what I see.

              Last edited by CRONAN; 06-18-2004, 09:47 AM.


              • #52
                And I plan to be one of those dirty old men of the modern era.
                I'm already there, bro
                "The cat is not evil for killing the rat, nor is the rat evil for stealing the grain. Each acts according to its nature." Master Po - Kung Fu:TOS


                • #53
                  List? What list? Can you post it?
                  Sorry I was not clear enough. That list of "what if B5 was written by other authors" is at the link I gave above. It's kind of long, and very off topic. I'd rather not post it.
                  The website is at:

                  Click on "B5... Humor" in the left frame. You'd get a list of humor pages, you must click on the smallish rhombus next to a title (bad webpage design IMO) to read it.
                  Of course you can always go directly to the page in question:

                  Here's another piece of B5 humor:

                  Maybe we should start a Babylon 5 Humor thread....

                  Asimov's Foundation series is still a good read (it was when I last read it about 12 years ago)... and it has something of psionics somewhere around book 2, it would spoil that and book 3 if I said more.
                  But I had to mention that Asimov is a classic hard SF writer that used psionics/telepathy in his stories. Within the positronic robot series of short stories there's one with a telepathic robot (that's no spoiler, it comes up front to set the story), I think it's title "Liar!" it was another good exploration of his 3 Laws of Robotics.
                  All of that was in the simpler times before R. Daneel Olivaw of course...
                  Such... is the respect paid to science that the most absurd opinions may become current, provided they are expressed in language, the sound of which recalls some well-known scientific phrase
                  James Clerk Maxwell (1831-79)