I have invented teleportation! I can instantly move a mass, to any point within thousands of light years - although I'll probably test it out somewhere local on Earth first. This is my blog so I can document my efforts to make this thing practical to use. I've got supplies ready - a backpack with food, water, GPS, world maps - because who knows where I will decide to go!
My assistant says: "Don't forget to take a diving helmet, in case you teleport under water!"
This got me thinking. Before using it, I have to work out some things. If I teleport myself into a body of water, what will happen? I don't mean... will I be able to swim, I mean, what will happen to the water?
Take a volume of water. It's made of molecules of
H2O (water) and
NaCl (salt). If I suddenly move myself into that body of water, where do the original water atoms go? They'll still be there. My own atoms will appear throughout the space occupied by the current ones. I will find my own body to be full of water. My cells will explode, my lungs will drown, my blood will double its pressure, and I'll die instantly. The same happens with air - if I arrive in an empty room, I will overlap with the air itself. Nitrogen and oxygen atoms will be interspersed throughout all my body; my cells will rupture - all the same disruptions as with water.
My problem is that teleportation isn't enough. I also need a matter displacer. This means, before teleporting to a place, I need a machine that will take precisely the correct volume of material, in the correct shape, and move it out of my way before I get there. Else I'll merge and die. This is a difficult problem. Matter isn't infinitely malleable. If I teleport into a body of water and I had a machine to push that water out of the way, then that's fine. Except that then I'll appear in a high-pressure bubble, and all that water will create a massive shock-bow-wave all around me. I'll need a pressure suit. A pressure suit that can deal with water.
But that's not the true problem. The true problem is that I haven't got a matter displacer. There's simply no physical way to exert a displacement force at some random point in space, without exerting that force locally. Does this mean that before teleporting to a location I need to go there and setup a displacement device precisely at the point I'm going to teleport?
Having to go visit the place beforehand takes away a lot of the fun out of having a personal teleporter! But at least it'll speed up freight and public transport, once we invent a Teleporter and a Displacer.
Another problem isn't just displacement, it's detection. Because pushing air out of the way is easier than water, but pushing rock is somewhat harder. If I don't quite teleport to the place I wanted and I end up teleporting into rock, then what? My Displacer needs to push that rock hard enough, in every direction, so that it moves out of my way. That means... crumbling, crushing and exerting enough force to physically and violently displace the rock; if that rock is held in place by more rock, then the force required will be absolutely huge. Even atomic bombs don't move much rock around. I need the power of earthquakes.
So, what I need to do is find out what I'm teleporting into. Air? I can deal. Water? Maybe I can deal, depending on me having the right suit, and the water isn't too deep for the pressure to be high for my theoretical Displacement machine. But rock? Lava? Metal girders and concrete? No point me trying to teleport to work each day, if everytime I arrive I'm apt to destroy part of the building with a shockwave.
And worse of all, what if I teleport and my new position overlaps with other living beings? With other humans? A Displacement device will shred them to pieces. If my Displacement devices takes a 2m-squared area and simply shoves it to one side, that might mean chopping someone in half. My machine will have no idea which molecules are part of something living and which are inorganic. It'll tear people to pieces.
I don't just need a Teleporter and a Displacer. I also need a Detector.
The Detector must know exactly where I'm going to teleport to, and must examine all of the atoms in that place, and tell me if it is atmosphere, or liquid, or solid mass, or organic. And it must work out the proportions of the chemicals and atoms, and work out what type of thing I'll be teleporting into. If it's all organic, then, it must prevent the teleportation. If it's atmospheric, it must warn me to have a flying machine. If it's water, I'll need a deep-sea suit. If it's rock, I probably ought not go else I cause earthquakes, or find myself stuck under kilometres of rock, suffocating.
Without a high-quality detector, I won' t know how my Displacement device needs to push stuff out of the way. And what about false readings? If I teleport to a body of water and the Detector says 'it's salt water', it might seem safe. But it could still be inside the belly of a whale. And Displacing the water outwards will likely kill the whale.
The simple exercise of Teleporting has become very problematic indeed.
But thankfully - I am a truly miraculous engineer, and I have now invented a Teleporter that can take a mass and move it to wherever I want. And I've invented a Displacer, that can exert any amount of force anywhere in the Universe and push stuff out the way - hopefully I don't cause too much damage, or make buildings collapse. And I've invented a Detector, that can somehow go and measure all the atoms in my target place and tell me what they are and if it's likely to be a safe space. I've given it a comprehensive database of all materials, objects, both animate and inanimate, so it can work these things out.
Armed with my Teleporter, Displacer and Detector, I am good to get Teleporting.
My assistant asks: "So where do you want to go?", and I get some maps from my bookshelves.
Maps are complicated things. Firstly, you have to measure accurately. Every time we go to measure something with some new and improved tool, we have to update our maps. Not only that, but continents move. The ground slowly rises or falls. Temperature and pressure changes the layout of the land. And even when I have an accurate map, with a great set of clever co-ordinates, it's not much use unless I can convince other people to use the same co-ordinates.
Because here's the thing: There is no co-ordinate system in space. Everything is relative to the observer. The galaxy has no idea where x,y,z co-ordinates of "128,1409,10" are. If I want to Teleport somewhere, I've got to be really specific with exactly where I want to go to. I don't want to appear 100m above the Earth. I couldn't even cope very well with appearing 10m too high. And the thought of appearing 1m too low is too horrible to bear. In fact... if I teleported somewhere, and got my co-ordinates wrong by just 2cm, I'm liable to find my feet trapped in the ground. Or my elbow could materialize inside a wall.
As there's no universal co-ordinate system in nature, then, what I need to do is very precisely specify the direction of teleportation, and the distance. But how accurate do I need to be? "Within one centimetre" doesn't seem good enough - I don't want 1cm of my skin and flesh to be left to chance. It's got to be better than a millimetre. But let's draw the line there.
Also, the direction, the angle in which I want to move, needs to be incredibly, amazingly accurate. If I'm teleporting around the Earth, for example, and we know that 1 radian of the Earth's radius is 111km, then it means that just a fraction of a mistake with my direction will result in me being hundreds of metres off-course. This is no good - I'll appear in the air, or underground somewhere.
Teleportation has got be accurate. Insanely accurate.
I don't just need a Teleporter, Displacer, and Detector, I now realize. I also need a Director for both direction and distance.
I have to measure where it is I'm going to, and its position relative to mine, with awesome granularity. It's hard enough measure how far it is from one town to another when planning some road building. Even our best and most accurate instruments get different results each time. Our best space lasers, measuring the distance from here to the moon, have the same issue.
But I'm going to tell you something impossibly amazing: I've invented a Director for both Distance and Direction, and I've also gotten the best and most amazing maps of the Earth, so I can now enter in a set of co-ordinates, and use my Detector and Displacer to make it safe for me to Teleport!
Job done. Still - I'd best test it. I imagined taking my wife to the top of the Eiffel Tower as a romantic surprise. That would be my test location, and I'd send a GPS device there so I can confirm that it arrived in the right spot.
I calculated the precise direction and distance. I took into account the curvature of the Earth, the tectonic movement of the crust since the time the maps were created, I used the best measuring tools to find the distance and direction, and put it into my Director. To be sure of any mistakes, I aimed a little too high: 4cm above the ground ought to cover me against any mistakes and it's not far to fall. Just a little bump.
I picked a time when I didn't think anyone else would be there. After setting my rather accurate angle and distance values, I used the Detector to ensure that I wasn't teleporting into anything solid, and used my Displacer to force that air out of the way before sending my dummy load. I hit the teleport button.
But it never got a signal back to me. I tried a few times, adjusting my co-ordinates to the left a little, to the right a little. Nothing.
Only later did I work out what I'd missed.
It was the duration. No force in nature is instant. After putting in the co-ordinates, the devices sends that to the Detector. But my Detector takes a few fragments of time to check the destination, and my Teleporter takes a few moments of time to scan the mass and get it moved. This could take one second to work itself out.
I don't just need to teleport to the top of where the Eiffel Tower is. I need to teleport to where the top of the Eiffel Tower will be, in one seconds' time. That means, I need to take into account the spin of the Earth and a few other things.
By standing completely still, at the equator of the Earth, at sea level, we are moving at 444 meters per second due to the spin of the Earth. But due to the Earth's orbit around the sun, we are actually moving at 29 805 meters per second. However our entire solar system orbits the center of the Milky Way at 220 000 meters per second, which means we are all moving between 190 194 and 249 806 meters per second depending on which month of the year it is and whether or not the Earth's orbit is going with, or against, the general direction of the movement of the sun. But let's ignore the sun's movement relative to the Galaxy's center, because the Galaxy itself is hurtling through the Universe at a tremendous speed, shuffling all of us along through space at a very serious 583 000 meters per second.
Because most of this is circular, it's not a question of having to correct my teleportation for the distance, but also for the direction. I'm rotating around in a complex manner, on a path carved at an intersection between several circling orbits.
No-one has worked out how many calculations are required to keep track of the absolute positions of planets - and at such speed! No supercomputer can do it, and neither can any brain, even if it is imbued with the power of teleportation. Without doing this calculation, even if my teleportation devices takes a tiny fraction of a second from the trigger to the event, then and if the error in the calculation is just a fraction of a degree of an angle off, or a fraction of that total distance too short or too far, I'll be dumped out into the middle of space or appear deep under the ground. If only everything would stand still!
My assistant asks: "But how do we walk or drive cars, without needing these calculations?"
Normally, the gravity of the sun corrects my movement for the Earth's orbit, and the black hole at the centre of the galaxy corrects my movement for the orbit of the sun around the galaxy. As with all the other elements of the calculations. Those corrections occur constantly, therefore, objects can move in apparent straight lines, heading towards their destinations. As long as you follow the laws of physics, you don't need to manually adjust for direction and absolute distance.
But my Teleportation Device doesn't follow the laws of physics. Else it would just be flying. To instantly get from A to B without having to build a giant engine and accelerate and decelerate, my machine ignores physics. It uses some other method - magic, or some kind of quantum woo, to do the job. Because it's bypassing local physics, then, it's not effected by gravity and spin. Because it's not effected by those things, then, I need to manually program in a precise direction and distance for where I want to teleport to.
My assistant asks: "Isn't your Teleporter instant? Therefore nothing will have moved and you don't need to calculate".
Even so, my brain is not instant, nor is the method for getting co-ordinates to my Teleportation device, nor my Displacer, nor my Detector. I need all that other stuff to work too. That means I need to do the horrendous calculations to adjust for movements due to spin, orbit, etc.
So, I have some bad news.
I'm never going to manage to teleport to the Eiffel Tower. I'd be incredibly lucky if, should I use my Teleportation Device, if I ever see the Earth again. My amazing creation is going to have to go unused.