Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Six Dimensions and Star Trek
Name: Unknown
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Around 1993


Question:
How do theories of six-dimensional geometry apply to time? Is there any validity to the transporters they created for "Star Trek: the Next Generation"?



Replies:
There are theories of the universe that involve dimensions higher than 3 or 4, but they usually do not have any effect on time. These higher dimensions just increase the spatial dimensions, and only in a very minor way. Science fiction, of course, does not have to rely on the silly restrictions of modern physics theories. In principle, one could build some kind of "transporter". However, the only kind I can think of would be more like "duplicators", which would produce a second copy of the object being transported, rather than actually do the transporting. This of course creates all sorts of philosophical problems which Star Trek has chosen not to worry about.

A. Smith


A recent discovery in quantum mechanics has shown that there may be a sense in which "transporting" is different from just copying, so I guess my previous answer needs to be changed. However, this does not have anything to do with the fourth dimension (or higher). The technique is to prepare a pair of coupled quantum systems, then one person takes one of those quantum systems somewhere far away. Next, it is then possible to make a measurement on the local system, transmit the result of that local measurement and reconstitute a new quantum system on the other side. So, if the quantum mechanical properties of a person are important for keeping them alive, then people really cannot be duplicated; but they can (by this means) in principle be transported by sending enough classical information to the other side. Of course, most biologists do not think quantum coherence is at all important for life, and therefore be possible to duplicate living things with enough classical information.

A Smith



Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory