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DISCLAIMER
The methods described in pages are a theoretical discussion ONLY. Methods are discussed in only the broadest terms and I hold no qualifications in the fields discussed.
Because a method is listed here does not indicate that I approve or recommend it. In some cases, I definitely don't!

Mass-energy conversion is magic through science. Of all the techniques I've postulated, this one is probably the least likely to ever see the light of day. But it's fun to speculate, and there's nothing like saying, "It can't be done!" in science to prompt someone to have an inspiration and bring things to realisation.

Mass-energy conversion is the Star Trek-like technology where an object is converted into an energy pattern and then reformed into a different pattern. Horror movie The Fly is a good example. If we had a transporter pad to hand, I suspect the rest would be "easy".

Well, perhaps that isn't a bad place to start. In order to teleport someone, you would have to convert them into energy, transmit them, and the reform them. This raises a significant problem. Leaving aside that we don't currently have the means to accurately and instantaneously (and painlessly!!!) disassemble an object and perfectly record every molecule and binding, we are essentially destroying -ie, killing- our original subject. Then, assuming we could reconstruct a physical body from the data (and maintaining such vast data fields without any loss would be a miracle in itself), how do we know the reconstructed body is the same object?

It's not a trivial question. In order to be the same person, there needs to be some continuity of existence; the soul, if you like. Where is the soul in a mass-energy teleportation? We've recorded mere matter, and if the soul is made of anything, it isn't molecules. And consider this: if we can turn that data into one new body, what stops us making more copies? And how could you tell them apart? Each would be a perfect copy of the original body, with all memories and sense of self. In other words, until and unless the soul of a living being can be quantified and preserved through this process in a way that ensures that one soul travels uninterrupted into the newly reconstructed body, then this method of matter transmission will remain the province of science fiction.

Let's conveniently side-step this trivial hiccup though. We have a matter-transmitter (Mr Scott has conveniently fallen through a worm-hole to the present day, conveniently bringing with him the technology and saving everyone the problem of actually inventing it). Well, if you can break a human body into data, you can do the same thing to a horse: let's teleport a horse from one side of the lab to the other, and keep a record of the physical data. An organic life-form, especially a horse and a human, is a very complicated mechanism. How would you convert a human to a horse? You would have to manipulate the data. Wow, that would be some number-cruncher! Merely reconstructing matter in the original pattern would be no more complicated (in essence) than recording a sound and playing it back: no processing of the sound is actually necessary. We can, today, process sound information and alter it in pretty much any way we choose. An order of magnitude up, and we are very good already at processing video information, but consider how much processing power it takes to generate or manipulate a digital image for a cinema production: every frame is the product of massive "rendering farms". Compare the complexity at this level to the complexity of manipulating an organic life-form and we're talking about a bigger leap in processing power than exists between Charles Babbage's 19th century Difference Engine and an office block full of networked Intel i7s.

You can, I hope, see the difficulties that beset this sort of technology at every level: philosophical, physical, computationalů The well-known (and beloved of TF-fans) SF author Jack Chalker invented a super-computer named Obie for his Well-World series. Obie was able to read and process the mathematical equations that define the Well-World universe, essentially granting it god-like powers within a localised area. Even using technology several hundred years in advance of our own, this computer had to be housed in a sizeable asteroid owing to its tremendous size.

So, we're stuck. We can't disintegrate matter, or record it's precise structure. We can't process or even store that much data yet. We can't reconstruct matter from a data record - even a simple structure like a crystal. And perhaps most importantly at all, we can't preserve the essential continuity of existence through such a process, which, for most of us, would be an essential element. Otherwise, to be frank about it, we might as well request that, upon our earthly demise, our mortal remains were reprocessed into a food supplement for pregnant mares. Then, in a very real sense, your body would be converted into energy, and then into a new horse.



Links
Wikipedia Entry on Teleportation.
Obie A link to the bibliography page: Jack Chalker's best-selling Well-World series.
AboveTopSecret A bulletin-board discussion of some of the problems involved in M-E conversion.








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