The Problems With Transporters

 Image courtesy of manic-expression.com

Image courtesy of manic-expression.com

As a lifelong Star Trek fan, I have always wondered how the problems with transporter technology were handled. Since transporters do not exist, the problems I have with them are more philosophical than scientific; although the engineering problems connected to them would be the first challenges with their construction. For example, how do we build one? Is it possible to do so? Are they even theoretically possible? 

I have always wondered how the brain is broken down and reconstructed upon transport. I have always thought that if the brain were “pulled apart” into subatomic particles, would the person not be considered dead? How would the brain be reconstructed? Wouldn’t a small amount of misplaced neurons result in a possible alteration of the person’s personality, brain functioning, etc?

Would there have to be some kind of artificially maintained communication between the cells of the body as they were “injected” through the subspace stream? How would this occur? What would the person experience upon being transported? Would they “go dark”, as if falling asleep? Would their vision fall apart as the transporter beam disassembled their entire being?

Once the brain was pulled apart, would not everything that makes the person human also be pulled apart? If the neural network were to be disassembled, even for an instant, would not all memories, learning, everything, be lost forever?

My theory on these odd questions would have to be the following: somehow, when the brain is deconstructed, there would have to be some information transfer between the atoms, molecules, and neurons of the brain in order to keep the person alive while retaining their personality, memories, and other mental qualities. Either that, or the transporter would have to keep a snapshot of the entire personality and experience profile of the person at molecular deconstruction, “re-injecting” this profile into the fully reassembled brain.

And where does the transporter keep a record of the human’s appearance? How would it reconstruct trillions of atoms, cells, and molecules? Would it rebuild them in the same way in which they came apart? I have often wondered how Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle related to transporter technology (even though, if I remember correctly, there was a mechanism present within the transporter to “compensate” for the problem of not knowing a particle’s position and velocity simultaneously, known as Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle).


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Christopher N

Christopher Nehme is a second year Professional Writing student at Algonquin College who specializes in fantasy and science fiction. He sings and plays guitar in his spare time.