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An essay on Teleportation

This essay, written in 2010, is based on the serendipitously devised way to teleport, published in 1993 by Bennett, Brassard, Crepeau, Jozsa, Peres and Wootters, Teleporting an unknown quantum state via dual classical and Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen channels (select Einstein).
In the essay it is argued that if computing power will keep evolving according to Moore's Law of Computing, teleportation of humans can be achieved in about 130 years from now.

Although computing power is indeed still approximately increasing according to Moore's law due to ever increasing techniques, other ways to make computing faster are necessary if the law is to uphold for another 130 years. But there are good signs such as the 'making' of the quasi (non-fundamental) Majorana particle, First hint of Majorana fermions spotted in nanowires, Signatures of Majorana fermions in hybrid superconductor-semiconductor nanowire devices, because of its theorized role in the development of quantum computing, Majorana particles for the quantum computer, giving again good grounds to the belief that Moore's law will uphold for, in any case, a long time if this enables new ways of building computers. But although computing power thus presumably being no problem while also the described teleporting scheme is theoretically in order, the careful reader will notice that there are some non-discussed energy problems.

Space-travel can, theoretically, be done, achieving large enough velocities will prevent the ship's inhabitants from ageing too much during the journey, and a trip of around 20 years while accelerating and next decelerating exactly enough to feel Earth's gravity within the spaceship is enough to reach most of the stars in our Milky Way galaxy as Kip Thorne wrote in his great 1994 book 'Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy'. But the amount of energy needed for this kind of space-travel will be considerable, a problem not yet solved. Also, handling the energy flows needed and being released, preferably in a recycling system, when assembling electrons and nucleons into the right atoms when teleporting to uninhabited planets is a problem to be solved.

But perhaps mankind will learn, after solving the space-travel-energy-problem to extract energy from black holes, also a concept from Thorne's book. Surely if we succeed in doing that, the energy of the black hole on our Galaxy's center

is enough for now, although mankind seems to be able to run out even the most seemingly infinite energy sources. And our chances for success are not entirely nil, with the first lightbulbs being invented around 1880, 130 years later we were able to see the nightly light pollution from space, and there is no apparent reason, or rather no apparent scientific reason, why we could not solve these problems also.

And if we, unexpectedly, do not solve them, we are most probably also not really travelling in space, and Alice and Bob will not be on those planets anyhow.

Bandwidth threshold
In November 2012, in the University of Leicester’s Journal of Physics Special Topics, four students of the University of Leicester calculated that teleporting a human being would take 4.85 x 10^15 years: Travelling by Teleportation.

The total amount of bits they suggest differs from the amount in my essay, the students suggest 2.6 x 10^42 bits (gladly they account for deadly errors), while, following Braunstein in 'A fun talk on teleportation', I use 10^32 bits; all information, of either DNA or of the brain, should, after teleportation, be able to be reproduced when 'the full three-dimensional details to a resolution of one-atomic length' is given, and the teleported human is reassembled according to that information. But this difference in bits is, of course, only minor with regards to the enormous length of time the students calculated.

The main problem they see is the bandwidth necessary for the teleportation process, using 29.5-30 GHz. Using this bandwidth, the length of time the students calculate is longer than the age of the universe, but they do not reckon with the rapidly evolving technologies. Like computing power, also bandwidth is growing extremely fast, not in the least due to the growing Internet, Bandwidth explosion: As Internet use soars, can bottlenecks be averted?.

And indeed, this forecast is similar to the forecasts of computing power and storage capacity. The positive probability to achieve Star Trek-like teleportation in 2139, as I found in the essay, is not due to some way to quicken the duration of a teleportation process, but to the years it will take computing power and storage capacity to evolve, and the same thus holds for the bandwidths.

Therefore, looking at today's progress, if we will not achieve significantly larger computing powers in a few decades, and likewise for bandwidths, something else is clearly wrong. But hoping that no extremely large disasters will happen, we will indeed be able to teleport at the time the writers of Star Trek hypothesized it to happen, with the first operable transporter being developed before 2139.

Update 2014:
Already four years later it can be seen that although the speed of the developments does not slow down, there are changes. According to Intel the number of transistors still increase, but for instance the clockrate is slowing down. But it will all be obviated by new developments as cloud computing or the internet of things: the letter you just typed is kept in the refrigerator, while the beautiful photograph is in the washing machine.

Although it will be practically impossible to know whether url's have changed since I made the bibliography, I can add changes here if I notice any changes, or mistakes I made. The first noticed is the url of the very last picture, 'Island in the Dark' by The Light Works, my favourite space-image, which has as its url or directly, Island in the Dark.

Particle physics, the Higgs boson

This Dutch essay was written in 2012 for the physics course 'Deeltjesfysica', or 'Particle physics', at Utrecht University, and in it the need for the Higgs boson in the Standard Model of particle physics is described. Choosing this subject was, to be honest, not motivated by the Higgs boson itself, but by the fact that I participate in Test4Theory, ''the first of what is expected to be a series of physics applications running on the LHC@home platform [...] to demonstrate the use of the CERN-developed CernVM and BOINCVM systems to harness volunteer cloud computing power for full-fledged LHC event physics simulation on volunteer computers'', as can be read on their website. To my great delight, the Higgs boson was found while I was writing this essay, Observation of a new particle in the search for the Standard Model Higgs boson with the ATLAS detector at the LHC and Observation of a new boson at a mass of 125 GeV with the CMS experiment at the LHC. The people at the Large Hadron Collider could not have planned it better :0

The motivation of Prof. Kooijman requiring us to write the essay in Dutch was that most information on the web is in English, and he considered it a good exercise to write the essay in Dutch in order to learn exactly what is written, as opposed to learning the English physics terms and sentences as a sort of 'new words', thereby not entirely grasping their meaning. At first, I did not totally agree, but while writing it I saw that, indeed, translating into well running Dutch sentences was harder than I thought. How strange that in a few years, writing about physics in Dutch seems to be harder than writing in English, while earlier students had to be 'forced' to learn to work in English. The internet also had a profound influence in areas where it was not directly expected.

With this in mind, I would like to take advantage of the opportunity, this writing being on the web, to make a plea to stop dubbing in children's television programs if spoken in another language. This has lately become a habit in the Netherlands, but when my children were young, there was no dubbing, the original language was what they heard, all foreign programs were subtitled as the programs for grown-ups still are. This had (and still has for grown-ups) three advantages.
First, since most television programs were in English, their feel for the English language was already very good at a very young age.
Second, also other languages were heard, and this helps them to understand that the world is larger than what they can see directly, not only Dutch and English are spoken around the world.
Third, their reading skills were almost playfully achieved by reading the subtitles, surely they wanted to know what Asterix said to Obelix, or why Inspector Gadget was acting so strangely.

Of course, there is concern about children who do not have Dutch as their mother tongue and do not speak Dutch well enough, but for them good Dutch television programs can be made. And there are already great children's programs in Dutch, Sesamstraat being a good example. Although this is not originally Dutch it is made for Dutch children using Dutch actors, and only puppets are dubbed. Bert en Ernie speak Dutch fluently :) :)

To be, almost, bilingual is a great and not to be underestimated advantage.


From CERN on 27 November 2013: ATLAS sees Higgs boson decay to fermions

And from T4T in September 2013: Crowd-sourced computing platform reaches one trillion events

On 8 Jul 2014 news from Test4Theory, the project will get a new name: "vLHC@home"

"Following 3 years of running Theory simulations under CernVM and BOINC, we plan to gradually expand the project and add more applications on CernVM with simulations from the LHC experiments. Thus the new name: Virtual LHC@home. [...]
We would like to express our warmest thanks to all of you for your contributions to Test4Theory, and hope that you will continue to stay with us in the future!
The team.

Toen ik in Utrecht kwam studeren reed ik regelmatig met lijn 12 langs deze muurschildering van 'contra'. Na een paar jaar bedacht ik dat het eigenlijk in een museum thuishoorde, in een overzicht van markante Utrechtse graffiti.

 En toen werd het vernield. Er was al omheen geklodderd wat blijkbaar  nog weg te werken was geweest, tot, op een onzalige nacht, iemand  er  doelgericht zwarte verf overheen spoot, over de tekst en over het gezicht. Maar in plaats van het te restaureren werd het wit overgeschilderd, en niets daar herinnert er nu nog aan.

Gelukkig vond ik een thumbnail van "Excuse me! I have a system to destroy!" op een site van iemand die het blijkbaar net zo mooi vond als ik, en zij, Michelle Teran / Ubermatic (, heeft het toen in iets groter formaat naar me opgestuurd, ik was blij het weer te kunnen zien. Ik plaats het nu maar hier, dan bestaat het toch nog ergens.

Painting by Michel Gaudet, around 1951, bought by my parents in France, on their honeymoon. It is clearly damaged, and strangely restored, but still beautiful.


Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: Enterprise are all registered trademarks of CBS Corporation.
Astérix and Obélix - copyright Les Editions Albert René
Inspector Gadget - copyright DiC Entertainment

Images displayed in these essays remain the property of their original creators, and are only included on this website / pdf files for purposes of illustration under fair use guidelines.

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