Quantum Physics


Tangling with Teleportation

Will we ever realize the sci-fi dream of human teleportation? Physicists have already successfully teleported tiny objects. (See Beam Me Up, Schrödinger for more on the mechanics of quantum teleportation.) What will it take to extend the technique to a living, breathing human being?

Quantum teleportation is possible because of two quantum phenomena that are utterly foreign to our everyday experience: entanglement and superposition. Entanglement is the connection that links the quantum states of two particles, even when they are separated: The two particles can be described only by their joint properties.

Though there is no classical analogue for entanglement, in his book Dance of the Photons Zeilinger imagined how entanglement might work if it could be applied to a pair of ordinary dice instead of a pair of subatomic particles: “The science fiction Quantum Entanglement Generator produces pairs of entangled dice. These dice do not show any number before they are observed.” In other words, they are in a superposition of states where there is an equal chance of producing any number between one and six. “When one die is observed, it randomly chooses to show a number of dots. Then, the other distant die instantly shows the same number.”

This works no matter how far apart the dice are. They can be sitting beside each other or on opposite ends of the universe. In either case, when the particle over here is measured to be in one of many possible states, then we can infer the state of the particle over there, even though no energy, no mass, and no information travels between A and B when the first one is observed. The state of particle B simply is what it is. The difficult concept is that B’s state corresponds with the state of the measured particle A.

Entanglement is so confounding that in the early days of quantum theory, when entanglement was supported only by thought experiments and math on paper, Einstein famously derided it as “spooky action at a distance.” Today, though, entanglement has been thoroughly tested and verified. In fact, entangling particles isn’t even the hard part: For physicists, the most difficult task is maintaining the entanglement. An unexpected particle from the surrounding environment—something as insubstantial as a photon—can jostle one of the entangled particles, changing its quantum state. These interactions must be carefully controlled or else this fragile connection will be broken.

If entanglement is one gear in the quantum machinery of teleportation, the second critical gear is superposition. Remember the thought experiment about Schrödinger’s cat? A cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source are all placed in a sealed box. If the source decays and emits a particle, then the flask breaks and the cat dies. While the box is closed, we can’t know whether the cat is living or dead. Moreover, the cat can be considered both alive and dead until the box is opened: The cat will stay in a superposition of the two states until a “measurement is made—that is, until we look in the box and observe that the cat is either alive or dead.

Schrödinger never tried this on a real cat—in fact, he drew up the thought experiment just to demonstrate the apparently preposterous implications of quantum theory, and to force theorists to examine what constitutes a “measurement”—but today scientists have demonstrated that superposition is real using systems that are increasingly large (albeit still much smaller than a cat). In 2010, a group of researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara demonstrated superposition in a tiny mechanical resonator—like a tuning fork, it vibrates at a characteristic frequency, but just like the cat it doesn’t exist in a single position until measured. Last year, another group of researchers demonstrated quantum superposition in systems of as many as 430 atoms.

Before superposition and entanglement appear in a human-scale teleporter, if ever, they will be harnessed for multiple applications in computing. Quantum cryptography uses entanglement to encode messages and detect eavesdropping. Because observation perturbs entanglement, eavesdropping destroys information carried by entangled particles. And if two people each receive entangled particles, they can generate an entirely secure key. Quantum cryptography is an active area of research and some systems are already on the market.

Quantum mechanical superposition and entanglement could also be exploited to make faster and more powerful computers that store information in quantum states, known as “qubits,” instead of traditional electronic bits. Quantum computers could solve problems that are intractable for today’s computers. Whether it’s possible to make a working quantum computer is still in question, but roughly two dozen research groups around the world are avidly investigating methods and architectures.

So we know how to teleport one particle. But what if we want to make like Captain Kirk and teleport an entire human being?

Remember that we wouldn’t be moving Kirk’s molecules from one place to another. He would interact with a suite of previously-entangled particles, and when we read the quantum state we would destroy the complex quantum information that makes his molecules into him while instantly providing the information required to recreate his quantum state from other atoms in a distant location.

Quantum mechanics doesn’t forbid it. The rules of quantum mechanics still apply whether you’re talking about a system of two particles or human being made of 1027 atoms. “The size doesn’t matter in and of itself,” says Andrew Cleland, a physicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Macroscopic systems like superconductors and Bose-Einstein condensates show quantum effects while arbitrarily large.

From an engineering standpoint, though, teleporting larger objects becomes an increasingly tough problem. Cleland comments, “Taking any object and putting it in a quantum state is hard. Two is multiply hard.” Maintaining entanglement between particle requires isolating them from interactions that would break their entanglement. We don’t want Captain Kirk to end up like The Fly, so we need to keep the particles absolutely isolated.

What if we start with something simpler: Instead of teleporting a person, can we teleport a much smaller living thing—like a virus?

In 2009, Oriol Romero-Isart of the Max-Planck-Institut fur Quantenoptik in Germany and his colleagues proposed just such an experiment. Using current technology, it should be possible to demonstrate superposition in a virus, they argued. They didn’t try it, but laid out a procedure: First, store the virus in a vacuum to reduce interactions with the environment, and then cool it to its quantum ground state before pumping it with enough laser light to create a superposition of two different energy states.

This is possible in theory because some viruses can survive cold and vacuum. But humans are hot, and that thermal energy is a problem. “We have quadrillions of quantum states superimposed at the same time, dynamically changing,” says Cleland. Not only are we hot, but we interact strongly with our environment: We touch the ground, we breathe. Ironically, our need to interact with our environment, our sheer physicality, could come between us and the dream of human teleportation.

Tell us what you think on Twitter, Facebook, or email.

Yvonne Carts-Powell

    Yvonne Carts-Powell is a science writer and the author of The Science of Heroes (Berkeley Press, 2008). Her articles have appeared in such publications as New Scientist, ScienceNOW, and Editorial Humor. She has mostly uses her B.S. in physics to write about light. Visit her homepage at the National Association of Science Writers.

    • Mary

      Because it is elusive starting at the small and moving to the large, how about starting at the large. Experiments have shown, for example, that people’s EKGs synchronize when they sit across a room from each other for a while. Not sure if they have done it with EEGs. Surely there is subtle energy being exchanged and we have not yet detected it. For the particles, how do we know there is no energy exchange?

      • [citation needed]

        Please provide a source for this claim about EKG/heartbeat-synchronization.

        • Mary


          You can follow the references in this summary for more development but some are quite expensive. What I mentioned is under the topic resonance/entrainment.

          • //Evidence of the ability of human systems to synchronize is clear in the following study: In 1994 and 1996, Russek and Schwartz studied pairs of subjects sitting in the same room, sitting quietly with eyes closed, not touching each other. The EKG and EEG rhythms indicated that their heart and brain rhythms synchronized, and the synchronization could be enhanced if they were connected electrically by a wire held in the left hand of one person and the right hand of the other.//

            Ah yes, the experiments done by Gary E. Schwartz, who refused to let ANY outside, independent panel examine the evidence, even after public challenges by the James Randi Educational foundation, who has a standing offer of $1Million for credible evidence for supernatural claims, yet went on to write and sell numerous books making wild claims about the existence of consciousness outside the body, based on his own experiments, in spite of them never being peer-reviewed or even verified as reproduceable.

            • Mary

              So you believe quantum behavior exists only at the quantum level? I believe it exists at all levels.

            • I believe what has supporting evidence and sound reasoning behind it. What charlatans like Russek and Schwartz or Deepak Chopra are calling “quantum behavior” is a gross misrepresentation of Quantum Physics that has no actual basis in science, hence why people like Schwartz and Russek have thus far refused to let anyone actually examine their “evidence.”

              Quantum physics, by definition, only applies to subatomic bits of energy and matter. That’s what Quantum means. You can believe whatever you wish, but there’s no credible, scientific support for what you’re proposing.

            • SWHNN

              I for one, know that just because something is PRESENTLY not supported by scientic evidence does not mean that is charlatanism. The greatests scientific discoveries were made by scientists who were ridiculized, cussed, judged, persecuted and even jailed for commiting the greatest sin of all:bshaking up the prevailing scientific accepted sacred cows of the times Time proved them right when new tools of scientific measure were discovered. I opt to keep an open mind and will not call anyone a charlatan who dares to think out of the box and wants to connect the dots.

            • Anonymous

              “Time proved them right when new tools for scientific measure were discovered.”

              We don’t need time, we have the tools RIGHT NOW to prove or disprove the studies by Schwartz and Russek. The reason this hasn’t happened is because Schwartz and Russek have vehemently denied anyone to scrutinize their work closely.

            • James

              Perhaps you give more credit to technology than you should. Technology is constantly improving–perhaps in the future we will have resources from other planets to build material with. The possibilities are literally endless.

            • Aleeshah

              I am talking here of scientists in past centuries where scientific measure technologies were either non existent or were in its infancy. Then the prevalent tool was of “objective” observation by scientists , and different results were obtained of same subject by different observers… which bring us back to same today…It is a pity and a great loss that Schwartz and Russek rather want to protect their mind set that resulted in certain results than advancing and evolving in their subject research.

        • Found it. Fortunately, James Randi has already addressed the obvious issues with it and challenged Schwartz to produce his data for study by an independent, outside panel, which he has yet to do.

          • Dave

            Randi, you spoilsport. No wonder no one invites you to any parties.

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    • Pbarnes

      to make this more clear could you please explain exactly what quantum states are, what has to be done to entangle them and untangle them and what the physical effects of entangling and untangling would be. For example if you had two 1 oz lead weights, what physical effect would entangling and then untangling them have? What would be the effect on living creatures, say two identical mice?

    • GVel

      Haven’t you seen THE FLY? Don’t mess with teleportation, son.

      • YoonYoungJo

        LoL. I agree and disagree. Why does entanglement exist, if God doesnt want us to develop teleporation of some kind? Whether its teleporting humans or just communications?

        Scientists have discovered entanglement, yet still havent answered why the need for it even exists and what purpose it even has on our current existence.

    • Are the particles are actually in an amalgam of states, or is that simply how physicists conceive of them because the quantum states are unpredictable until an observation is made?

      If the latter, then is it possible that entangled particles are always in the same state, we just don’t know until an observation is made?

      • From everything I’ve ever read, the particles are in an “amalgam of states” or an undefined state. Their state exists as a probability function. The particles adopt a defined state after the probability wave is collapsed by observation.

        As far as the implications of this and the possible answer to your second question, you might want to read about the “Copenhagen Interpretation” on Wikipedia. 🙂 It’s still somewhat of a debate among quantum physicists. Technically entanglement and superposition are not separate quantum phenomena but actually two sides of the same coin.

    • Ginnie Oldham

      When flip cell phones like the Motorola Razor I once had (called it my ‘beam me up Scotty phone” I told my students that as surely as we use cell phones, computers, etc. (things we saw on Star Trek) that one day people would be teleported also. Love it soooo “Beam me up Scotty”!

    • Tee Mazar

      Does simply “knowing” a location and object allow for entanglement? I’m sure we’ll never get to Alpha Centauri with an “engine” tied to our butts. But it gives me great joy “knowing” any destination is reachable. Where are the Guild Navigators when you need them?

    • Anonymous

      iwhy is it when observed they change ?
      What is it about the observer that makes the difference?
      Does the observe,r by some currently unknown quantum qualit,y is able to change the states?
      It seems we are looking at this phenomena, qualifing as a curious one but not making the connection as a source…

      • Mary

        Sartre discussed it in “The Look”

      • Pbarnes

        The observer has nothing to do with it. In order to observe something it has to be “illuminated” with something – photons, particles or something else. At the scale of quantum mechanics these things are large enough to change the system being observed.

        • SWHNN

          I was refering to the collapse of the wave. Eugene Wigner reformulated the “Schrödinger’s cat” thought experiment as “Wigner’s friend” and proposed that the consciousness of an observer is the demarcation line which precipitates collapse of the wave function, independent of any realist interpretation? Commonly known as “consciousness causes collapse”, this interpretation of quantum mechanics states that observation by a conscious observer is what makes the wave function collapse.

          • Pbarnes

            All of these types of interpretations of the meaning of quantum mechanics are pure speculation. Robert H. McEachern gives a good explanation of the situation in his comments and responses to my questions under the post “Debating the Meaning of Quantum Mechanics”.

            • SWHNN

              At this point all of it, ALL OF IT, are just speculations, I prefer to keep my mind open till the time when newer measurement tools are discovered. It is a waste of time to take sides with any speculations including Mr, MEachem, his explanations are based on his particular assumptions. I read them and they are not different than any other speculations. Each speculation will appeal to whom has that particular bent of mind.

    • Lee

      I am amazed first at how entanglement sounds much like 1) a “gobo” element in a stage light fixture and that the isolation of the signature can be at least interfered with if a bat flies around between the component and the cast image, or a novice operates the fixture out of focus etc. or 2) echo, casting voice across a canyon, thus reflection is a sort. Second that our age of computer tech will likely teleport before humans ever will. 3) That the use of a virus already complicates the idea of even computers to befoul a healthy system and fourth; the thought that observation will perturb the clean function of entanglement ( much like smearing the hand on the aforementioned light lens to see better) All this commutes to me that understanding possibilities in the universe become more applied by the manipulation of everything other than human beings and probably enable the evolution of everything other than we ourselves. Of course creative wonder is limitless in the human mind and I’d like to know if ever the “hot” human can ever take in hand the limitless quantum dynamics and find use without external device or substitute.

    • Nogo87

      This is going to make my meditating on the present difficult.

    • Nowhere do I read that a person, molecules, atoms are -transported-, in fact, just the opposite… they are disintegrated, entangled, and reintegrated at the destination (from raw materials)… meaning you’re disintegrated (DIE) at the source, and a COPY is made at the destination. I’ll take the bus.
      From the article… “Remember that we wouldn’t be moving Kirk’s molecules from one place to another. He would interact with a suite of previously-entangled particles, and when we read the quantum state we would destroy the complex quantum information that makes his molecules into him while instantly providing the information required to recreate his quantum state from other atoms in a distant location.”
      Duplicating states with entanglement and superposition is not teleportation… not subjectively, and that’s what matters with living things. And you still have to have the raw materials at the destination, to reintegrate. What happens on the disintegration side… do objects become a pile of raw material? If they’re not destroyed/transported, then you’re just cloning at the destination.
      I don’t understand the fascination with making a copy as if that was transportation. Who wants to die for the sake of their copy at a remote location?

    • Minemeister13

      I figured if you just destroy something/someone, then, wherever you want/need it, make an _exactly_ identical copy. Therefore, idealisticly, It has moved to were you need it

    • Aleeshah

      In re reading all my posts, I can not help but to wonder that a human though is energy, and as such, able to change what is being observed.

    • Anonymous

      Human teleportation is indeed possible. It is being used on experimental subjects and is highly secretive, probably being used by a US governmental agency, but I don’t know which one. Most likely DARPA. I am an MK ULTRA mind control victim, and I know 100% that I have been, and still am, teleported while deeply asleep. To describe how I know this, or how it works, would take a long article at the very least. Basically, it is a very dangerous use of technology, it can be utilized for extremely nefarious purposes. We assume “new technology” is all fantastic. This is a very dangerous form of subatomic particle manipulation.

      • Aleeshah

        I just read your comment and having never heard of MK ULTRA or the kind of activities you described, I went looking for any and all info that I could my hands on. I have a few questions for you if you don’t mind:
        1. Were you part of the MK project or an outside chosen subject and became so without your knowledge.

        2. When did you became aware that you have been used by them?

        3. Do you have recollections through remembered dreams the nature of which seemed to be very lucid and much different from regular dreams?

        4. Does this mind control seeps into conscientiousness in sometimes unrelated thoughts and ideas that are not congruent with your intellectual and educational level?

        5. Do these dream recollections include places or people that you never visited or knew, but later visit or met?

        6. Does this plants memories of encounters with ET’s

        7. Are there any marks, or found small foreign implants anywhere in your body?

        I much appreciate your info.

        • Anonymous

          Also, quantum entanglement and teleportation and MK ULTRA have no connection to ET’s that I am aware of, when you include these topics it immediately includes the conspiracy theories that I abhor personally and do not subscribe to. ET’s and people being mind controlled or microchipped may have validity, but in my opinion, these forms of fiction are intertwined into the accounts of mind control in order to further discredit the victims who are being controlled by little scientists and agents who get paid to administer drugs into the target’s food inside their house while they break into the house while the victim is away. This is the reality of mind control, the victims are literally violated every single day and drugged every single day as agents (which are paid off landlords and neighbors or other agents living nearby) go into their homes and put mind control drugs into their food to control them and use them.

          You need to look up “Manchurian Candidate” accounts, this is also part of the MK ULTRA narrative. The element of teleportation will make murder and sex slavery almost impossible to prosecute, people being mind controlled are put into hypnotic states and ordered to perform functions such as murder or sex, and they are literally like zombies they can’t think clearly. They can be used as murder agents by teleporting them, instructing them to kill someone, and then they are teleported back into their bed and they assume it was a dream, or they were instructed while under hypnosis to forget what had happened. This is one of the capabilities of MK ULTRA “Manchurian Candidate” and teleportation that I believe will be utilized, along with various forms of sex slavery, rape and other unthinkable acts. All condoned by the government all sanctioned with huge amounts of money spent on this research by our government.

          • Aleeshah

            Thank you for you answer.. my questions were specifically aimed at some of the aspects of this issue that I found not very credible or logical. I see that you did not directly answer any my questions regarding your statement of being an unwilling participant of this government mind control project. Not that I do not believe you, but and however, if you are willing to announce in a public forum such as this that you were a victim of this project, I see no reason why not answer all my he questions …..

            • Anonymous

              I did attempt to answer your questions but the post I had written was deleted by the people monitoring my internet and hacking into my service. As an gov. experimental target of gang stalking, all telecommunications are under surveillance continuously.

              1. I am a “non-consensual” human experimental victim, purely. There has never been consent on my part. My parents may have “sold” me literally into this slavery, but I had no choice in the matter. Once in, I think they eliminate the experimental victim (murder them in various covert ways intended to look like natural causes or accidents—I have been almost murdered a few times already due to horrific poisoning and many deadly accidents). So, the point of the experiment is to test and subjugate the victim to unexpected stimuli in order to test their reactions, there is absolutely no consent.

              2. I became aware of being an MK ULTRA subject when I lived in Germany, because the Germans are very conformist so they follow stalking and MK ULTRA protocols without deviation from the scripts and instructions they are given. Up to that point, in the US I was lost in a sea of multiculturalism where people reacted in various ways to the stalking operations and MK ULTRA mind control so I just thought I was experiencing racism (due to coming from a non-religious Jewish background) and that is very much the case that racism plays a large role in the tareting of some victims. But having experienced gang stalking in the US in every city I moved to in desperation to get away from what I perceived as a single stalker who used people to stalk me by-proxy, or so I thought, I instead discovered that the stalking followed me from Miami to Gainesville to Portland to Germany to Asia in one smooth operation with the exact same protocol.

              3. The “dreams” you may be hinting at are the teleportation experiences I have. I am always teleported while asleep so it appears to be in a dreamlike state. I have conversations and I can perform the “commands” that the “handlers” demand, I can meekly try to resist but the mind control is far too strong. The types of situations I am put in are just like the “street theater” situations that gang stalking victims experience while out shopping and doing normal daily tasks. That is part of the pressure put on the victims to make them commit suicide or become committed as being “schizophrenic” because they are surrounded with people pushing shoving attacking abusing and insulting them ripping them off and for me, raping and exploiting endlessly. This is what unfortunate victims of state oppression have to look forward to if they don’t keep in line and do what people in power tell them to do, this is what the majority of the population participates in whether it’s overt stalking or passive apathy towards the victims. Your question did not include anything about how other people react, but I include this information because the impact of the torture would not be possible without the mass participation of literally almost all of society on one level or another. Thus, the “dreams” that are really an extenuation of being drugged and raped for an MK ULTRA victim or being gang stalked and tortured and harassed 24 hours a day, this is what teleportation is being used for in terms of the victims. For the “handlers” (in my case a few multi-millionaires who get million dollar businesses shortly after they begin the MK ULTRA contract on me) they get someone who they can have teleported to them in their home, while they order the MK ULTRA victim to perform sexual acts and give love and passion, while they give nothing and can easily just return the victim back to their original point of origin and it’s like quick and easy escort service for the wealthy and powerful. But having written this, I think most law enforcement personnel would be quick to pull out the DSM-IV-TR and say I am a variety of mental disorders put into one package. The truth is that the symptoms MK ULTRA victims experience are created to coincide with certain mental illnesses so it’s very easy to categorize them as such, if the victim gets as far in living as being able to try to prosecute or find any justice. Every police officer and law enforcement agency I have encountered on 3 continents participates in this.

              Since you wanted me to answer your questions, these are not simple questions and the answers are even more complex than you can imagine.

              As for incongruous thoughts, as I said, the victim is teleported while asleep into situations beyond their control and put into hypnosis so they encounter situations that are duplicitous and violent on one level or another, which if you are a peaceful and gentle person is extremely incongruous with your personal reality. The point is to change a person’s mentality and behavior to conform with their plans, or it’s called “behavior modification”.

              so I have answered some of your questions. If this gets printed or if you receive it.

            • Anonymous

              Also, people are very quick to disbelieve what a mind control victim has to say. Always, every time I attempt to express this situation I am returned with disbelief and that I must somehow explain or prove what I am saying, since people are so unwilling to look at how many Manchurian Candidates there are in history who have been instructed to murder and then have no later recollection of it, the examples are many, it just takes a bit of research. As a victim I should not have to “prove” my point or explain to people the credibility of my statements it’s up to you to do the research because this is not a new subject or a conspiracy theory, there are Congressional hearings on mind control, there are known research subjects and if you think that these programs have just stopped because a few whistleblowers in the 70’s ordered the open research of MK ULTRA at top universities in the US only means it has gone underground and is being heavily funded and backed up. Their main weapon is denial and in discrediting the victims. The mind control drugs, the hacking into the internet, the surveillance, the way victims get blacklisted and kept from employment, it all adds up to a seemingly incomprehensible target who appears to be unemployed and inconsequential while they are being used in a multi-million dollar research project that has far-reaching political implications.

              When you write that I should answer your questions as if I were in a court of law and indebted to explain to you how mind control research operates in America in order to prove my credibility, it only makes me wonder how much a part of the system of mind control research you are incorporated into.

            • Anonymous

              ALSO, in quantum entanglement teleportation the body is not split into two separate bodies but one interconnected but spacially disconnected entity. Consciousness can shift from one “body” to the other instantaneously. This is from my personal experience. I have had many murder attempts so what I write to you is not supposed to have been expressed publicly at all. I know this because I have been teleported a few hundred times to “handlers”, and my body reacts in both locations while I am undergoing whatever they do to me, I won’t cite specific lurid details.

              I write this because I have not had the chance or opportunity to share my experiences with anyone outside the spectrum of my mind control experiment, the “handlers” who have exploited me understand this, but they are enjoying the extremely lucrative contracts, new businesses and deals they got f or participating in this, they feel like real macho powerful men and they really are sociopaths, as are the government agencies carrying out this Nazi type of mind control research (look up info on Project Paperclip and MK ULTRA and mind control, this was being researched at the concentration camps).

              The tragedy is that this research is funded and executed by politicians and leading people in our society who want to be able to control, use, rape, and have Manchurian Candidates murdering others for them, the possibilities for exploitation are endless. The sociopathic element of this are likewise endless, it’s not going to be Spock delineating the fine line between rational and irrational responses but pure greed and power, this technology will be used to truly destroy people’s lives so the powerful can use them like robots and puppets.

              If anyone cares to think about this and do the research and not immediately dismiss what I say. The potential for sociopathy and mass murder and greed are endless, the technologies will not be used to enhance humanity but to enhance power for certain individuals and groups.

    • Meran

      Sounds to me like someone wants science-fiction to exist a little too hard. The absence of a thing may not always be proof of it’s non-existence, but I haven’t held out much hope for Unicorns either. I’ve always loved hearing things about string-theory and dark matter, but there doesn’t seem to be – and pardon me for saying so – much light on the situation to be able to distinguish what these people are even looking at. “Something is there. We can’t see it, and it sometimes but not often has an effect on other things, so we’re going to see if it exists in a realm we don’t know exists at all either.” It’s all a little too “dark” for me.

    • Sharon Lane

      The further “in” we go, the more complicated it gets because of our limits. This is very exciting.

    • Well Maby

      ….. not to get out of science but when we telaport where will our will go? we will be zombies