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I have a character who can teleport to essentially anywhere he can think of, assuming he either has been there before, or is given exact coordinates.

The problem is, I can only think of two ways to complete this:

  1. He disassembles his molecules at the same time as he is rearranging them at the target location to copy him. (Yes, he does have complete control over molecules; he basically has matter manipulation powers on an extremely powerful scale- he can rearrange them, fuse them, give them energy, etc, even down to the scale of single molecules. This is done semi-subconsciously, but he can control it when need be.)

  2. He transports his molecules at the speed of light to wherever he needs to be.

I have problems with both of these. For (1), doesn't disassembling his molecules and making a perfect copy of them elsewhere mean he's cloning himself and then killing one of himself? That's not nice, and I don't want to use that, unless we can find a way around that. (A way around that is not constituted by changing physics so that he isn't killed.)

For (2), that means he can only travel at the speed of light. He is going to travel extreme distances (several light-years at most), so that should mean he takes several years to get there, including through deep space where he doesn't have any molecules to give him air or something. Faster-than-light travel is not possible for him (though such technology exists) because he has limitations. Also, this isn't really teleportation. It's just superspeed.

How do I create a plausible way to teleport (based on either 1 or 2)? I can't just say "Yeah, he knows how to do this despite being one of only six beings in the known universe who have these powers and therefore never has received training in this."

Also, my character needs to learn to master this technique. What is the best way to do this without killing himself? It's not plausible that he gets it on his first try. (Seriously, you try rearranging your own molecules and surviving.)

Edit: I should have made this clear based on the responses: the only power he has is molecular manipulation. He can use this to various effects: for example, he can emulate thermal powers by giving or taking energy from molecules, he can emulate electric powers by moving electrons, he can even emulate biological powers- that is, he can change the biology of an organism so that they have changed strength, speed, metabolism, reaction time, etc. (I know this last one probably shouldn't really work in real life. But then again, molecular manipulation probably shouldn't really work in real life, either.) But I still like the wormhole/spacetime manipulation solution, and I also like the quantum entanglement solution. Thanks, everyone!

Edit #2: I just realized that my light-speed transportation system doesn't pose any problems for him (courtesy of everyone who reminded me that my use of Lorentz relativity is wrong, oops.) But the problem still stands for everyone else who's gonna be waiting forever for him to come back.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – James Jul 20 '18 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ I don't have much to offer to solve your larger question, but as far as him "testing" this ability, you could use situations such as him attempting to teleport into the next room, only to find he's miscalculated and his arm is now punched through a door after having displaced it's molecules with is own, or something to that effect. The thought of "practicing" teleportation sounds like it could open up opportunities for humor, or on the other side dangerous/embarrassing situations such as accidentally teleporting into the neighbor's house. $\endgroup$ – phatskat Jul 20 '18 at 15:01

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Wormholes! or more accurately, an Einstein-Rosen Bridge. Basically the teleportation mechanism is to connect two points in space-time. One end is your current location, and the other is the desired location. The endpoint sizes are set to the exact size of the character to eliminate potential hitch-hikers.

Mastering the technique would involve determining the size and placement of the wormholes, and how to correctly match their inertial reference frames with the source and target locations. It would be unfortunate to "exit" the wormhole with a high relative velocity. Another danger would be having your source wormhole size incorrect, and pulling in extra matter, such as a section of the floor you are standing on, or your pile of dirty socks from the bedroom floor.

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    $\begingroup$ @IanNg It avoids molecular manipulation and all the associated problems. This is a better method. Molecular disassembly and reassembly is a very unsafe way to teleport. Also, highly impractical too. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jul 18 '18 at 3:15
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    $\begingroup$ Warning: wormholes might allow time travel. $\endgroup$ – user76284 Jul 18 '18 at 4:28
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    $\begingroup$ @IanNg to be fair, in your question, you don't stipulate that it has to be molecular manipulation, just that your 2 options so far were MM. on a practical sense it is far easier to use wormholes. then you don't need to explain yourself around the whole Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, the closer you are to knowing where an atom is the harder it is to tell where its going (dumbed down yes i know). it also gets around the time delay issue. Also take into account that having that data on every atom in a human body is magnitudes more data than the entire internet $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith Jul 18 '18 at 6:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Ian Ng you could perhaps marry both options. To form an einstein-rosenveld bridge he manipulates molecules and then sends his own through. This avoids the probpem of having to know the relative position, rotation, velocity and vibration of every single molecule and reforming yourself at the other end. It's extremely unlikely that a first attempt would form a living body, or a body still capable of manipulating molecules. Hell, just getting the molecules together at the target location would mean ripping apart the earth, air, flora and small fauna in the vicinity of your teleport. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jul 18 '18 at 9:46
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    $\begingroup$ +1. If you're not happy to make do with a copy of the subject, you need to basically move them - and if you're going to move them instantaneously you need to take a shortcut. Wormholes!! $\endgroup$ – Grimm The Opiner Jul 18 '18 at 15:29
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What if consciousness is something apart from this bodily realm? It's an entity that cannot be dismantled and reassembled at will, nor does it have any matter or occupies any space?

There would be no fear of disassembling his entire body so long he knows that, in essence, he is not this meaty mess of chemical reactions that we call body.

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    $\begingroup$ This hits problems if your fiction is not highly mystical though. In "our reality", dualism is not disproved, because it's never entirely possible to prove a negative, but it's gone far enough that no known physical process (down past the basic forces on sub-atomic particles) could be involved. Even teleportation isn't that improbable. :) Not that this couldn't be an answer, but it doesn't really put solid bounds on the situation. Or more accurately, it creates a harder problem of defining consciousness, which is an even deeper can of worms. $\endgroup$ – Graham Jul 18 '18 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ This is a great point. $\endgroup$ – Fattie Jul 18 '18 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ This is definitely a solution to his concerns with the first method, but I feel like it needs an explanation or mechanism to why consciousness is apart from the bodily realm. It seems like OPs underlying assumption is that it is not. $\endgroup$ – Cain Jul 18 '18 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ There's two ways to see the problem. Either you are, in essence, your body, or you are something else. Soul, consciousness, spirit, etc. If you're body, to what level it defines you? The original arrangement of matter; cells containing your DNA; the chemical of the brain that work in a certain way due to its structure; the atoms that forms you body today. This list can be extended a lot more, each possibility being more macro or more micro. If the teleportation method involves disassembly and then reassemble somewhere else anything on the micro spectrum will be viewed as cloning or dying. $\endgroup$ – Faed Jul 19 '18 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Graham Sure, but since consciousness is an emergent phenomenon caused by the interaction of our neurons, "ourselves" comes from the arrangement of neurons in our brain, not the atoms that make up those neurons. Any functionally identical copy of us is still us. $\endgroup$ – forest Jul 20 '18 at 4:59
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Direct Parameter manipulation.

Consider that every elementary particle (proton, neutron, electron, etc) can be accurately defined by a set of parameters that determine it's location, and velocity. Each particle has an x, y, z, dx, dy, dz, etc. Your character has the ability to select all of the particles that make up his body, and directly change any of these 6 parameters. If he changes the z parameter of every molecule in his body by +6 inches, then he has teleported 6 inches upwards.

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    $\begingroup$ This is just saying "he has the ability to teleport" $\endgroup$ – Jack M Jul 18 '18 at 14:09
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    $\begingroup$ The definition of teleportation is to go from A to C without travelling through B. This is real teleporting, none of this "bend the laws of space and time" stuff, no need to break anything or distort what we know...breaking down into tachyons and hurtling through portals in space-time is still travelling through point B. I approve of this answer. Edit the universe so that you are no longer at Point A and are now at Point C. $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan Jul 18 '18 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ There is a book Moving Mars, by Greg Bear where he works with this idea. I won't spoil it, but there is a little more framework around the idea. $\endgroup$ – Nate White Jul 18 '18 at 14:36
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    $\begingroup$ @JackM But a perfectly valid answer if the universe is in fact a simulation in which the parameters can be altered. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Jul 18 '18 at 16:17
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I've thought about this very question and for years I was adamant that deconstructing yourself and then reconstructing elsewhere meant you were killing yourself and then creating a clone.

Recently, I realised that this DOESN'T MATTER.

Our definition of 'death' is insufficient to describe the universe where this power is possible. You are disassembling yourself and then reanimating your constituent particles. The point at which 'death' occurs isn't strictly relevant, even if this doesn't happen instantaneously (which I assume it does). There will be a gradual change from animated and thoughtful, some momentary confusion and then you'll 'come to' somewhere else.

If you've ever had a dreamless sleep in a moving vehicle, this is the same thing as far as you're concerned. You don't have memories of the travel and you're basically the same person as when you started (but crucially not the same - we change at every level, every second of every day).

It's hard to divest ourselves of the idea that we won't be the same, but we forget just how often we undergo consciousness dissolution via sleeping, drugs, anaesthetics etc. Imagine someone in a coma for 5 years. No brain activity, no physical movement. They've travelled millions of miles around the sun, the galactic core etc. Their entire body (give or take a few bits) has been replaced and yet they are still the same person when they awake. They might feel a bit odd, but they are still 'them' and they'll accept it eventually.

Death, actual death, is the slow atrophy of brain function resulting in irretrievable destruction of the mind and no way to bring it back. Even if we could (with some Star Trek tech, rebuild the broken neural connections etc.) then that would be largely the same as teleportation. i.e. molecular reconstruction, specifically the re-building of the individual from the 'buffers' (cached physical image).

I imagine people teleporting in the future will feel nervous in the same way as people about to undergo general anaesthetic. They fear that 'they' won't map to the new state, but they'll do it anyway and the person who's left at the end will accept their situation just like patients do today.

We're basically the cognitive inertia represented by our memories, and while (as one comment suggested) it's possible to hijack our pattern in transit and reproduce it at will, there is only one set of particles making the trip and the others are simulacrums. They won't know that, though... So be nice.

Update: (thanks to Rozenn and Forest's comments). Some parts of our bodies do NOT undergo change over time, and could in fact be traced to before our birth, right until we die of old age. However, the broader point still applies, it's just not true to say that 100% of our bodies undergo complete replacement/renewal. It's likely around 99.9%, but that doesn't seem to relate to anything that could be called 'individual', as the molecules that have persisted aren't protected in any way, they just got lucky and could go at any moment.

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    $\begingroup$ Here is a scenario: Someone hijacks the data being used to recreate yourself at a distant location for example by hacking. They replay this request over and over, like the cookie replay hack in programming (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Session_hijacking). Now there are 100 yous at the target location. They are all version's of you, but none of them are you. Just like to one of these 100, all the other clones are versions of themselves but none are them. If we are going to transport to a distant location this way, it makes more sense to make a copy, and let the original go back to normal life. $\endgroup$ – Tyler S. Loeper Jul 18 '18 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ @TylerS.Loeper Another way of looking at it is that all of them are "you" but then they begin to diverge into different people. They're not the same person, but they were all once the "you" that existed in the past, and wouldn't now exist anyway had the teleportation not occurred. $\endgroup$ – wizzwizz4 Jul 18 '18 at 18:40
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    $\begingroup$ @TylerS.Loeper I recommend The House of Suns. The main character is (effectively) the end result of what you describe. Also, the no cloning rule $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Jul 18 '18 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ An alternate scenario, pretend the info sent to create your clone failed to arrive. In this case, you would definitely consider it dying when your own body was deconstructed. Now consider if it took a year for your clone to be reconstructed. During that year, before you know if the reconstruction is complete, are you dead? Definitely some nuance there to consider. $\endgroup$ – Cain Jul 18 '18 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ I agree entirely with the concept that disassembling someone and reassembling them identically has no reason to be "death", or rather, if it were possible to do this our notions of what identity is and how it can be destroyed ("death") would be revisited. However, "practically all of your cells/molecules get turned over in X period of time" isn't as true as you'd think. It so happens that this depends on the cells/molecules, and crucially neurons don't turn over (to speak of; there are exceptions). Not only that, because they don't reproduce, the DNA molecules in them don't turn over either. $\endgroup$ – Oosaka Jul 20 '18 at 9:16
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Quantum Tunnelling

With the quantum tunnelling effect, you could tunnel through a barrier that it classically cannot surmount. This effect could be explained using the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Here I will do a basic explanation: enter image description here We have a green ball, two valleys (one below the another) and a mountain.
We push a little the green ball, it moves and falls in the first valley turning some of its potential energy into kinetic energy (light green line), then, the ball tries to climb the mountain using all its kinetic energy (yellow line), but sadly there isn't enough to climb the "barrier", and finally it falls in the metastable valley (red line and ball), a zone with some energy (not rest state) but not enough to climb the wall.
But if we think about energy, the ball can be in any place below the brown line because it doesn't need more kinetic energy to archive it, even more, reaching that states can turn potential energy into kinetic energy. So, if we close the eyes, the uncertain principle said that this ball can be anywhere below the line, even inside the mountain! Using this principle and not looking elsewhere, the ball can do some tricky physics and move through the quantum tunnel in order to archive the real stable valley, where it doesn't have more potential energy.

Your character can use this quantum tunnel in order to move instantly into zones below its brown line, which would be something like its chemical energy (stamina?) or maybe potential energy (can't teleport outside gravity wells), I don't know, that is your problem, not mine ;).

Other ways could be:

Warp Drive (Alcubierre drive)

There is a way to move faster than light without becoming pure energy, disintegrate or move through quantum and weird tunnels.

In soft sci-fi it's called warp drive, but in hard science it's usually referred to it as Alcubierre drive.

enter image description here

It collapses (make smaller) space towards it and expanses (make larger) space behind it in order to move less distance to archive further destinations.

And extremely collapse and expansion of space towards and behind the teleporter respectively in a fast way could be experienced as a "teleportation".

The most realistic way to archive this could be manipulating gravity wells but it doesn't matter much.

Wormholes

A wormhole connects two points in space-time themselves making something that could be described as a "bridge" between the points. By this way, you could travel almost instantly shortening the distance between you and your destiny. Also, you don't need to disassemble into molecules.

Lightspeed

If you become energy and travel at speed light, then become matter and reassemble philosophically speaking is a bit difficult to tell you if you are still alive, but at least it would be instantly for you. A particle travelling to lightspeed will not experience the pass of time.

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  • $\begingroup$ Based on some research I heard about recently, quantum tunneling for macroscopic objects might actually be possible. Mind, "macro" in this context means "viruses" and the distance would be four orders of magnitude smaller. But technically possible. $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Jul 18 '18 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Draco18s I know, but if the character is already able to teleport why care about a simple tecnicalism? :) $\endgroup$ – Ender Look Jul 18 '18 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ What I mean is, this is a good answer, because it uses a system that already exists and just powers it up to 11. $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Jul 18 '18 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ More like over 5000 ;) but I Apap think rota is the Brady solution $\endgroup$ – Garret Gang Jul 19 '18 at 3:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Draco18s, I know you like feasible or technically possible ways so I've just added a new one: the Alcubierre drive also know has warp drive! $\endgroup$ – Ender Look Jul 19 '18 at 3:38
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Quantum Entanglement

This is method 1, but with a twist that should make it a lot easier to believe that he is not creating a clone and killing himself.

You assemble the exact copy of yourself somewhere else, except that for each particle you quantum entangle it with it's corresponding particle in your body and give it the opposite spin. Thus, when the clone is complete, it's certainly not you yet because everything is spinning backwards!

Now all you have to do is suddenly reverse the spin of all of the original body's particles. The entanglement will immediately reverse the clone so that it becomes "you", while the original is not instantly not you.

The reason that this adds a layer of ethical security is that it's not possible for the two versions of person to actually exist at the same time. It's less creating a clone and killing the original, and more just transferring consciousness.

Just practice by teleporting other things.

Possible tweaks

If you're not convinced that a body with every particle spin reversed isn't you, choose another characteristic. Charge, velocity, etc.

If you're uncomfortable with two bodies even existing at all, choose a type of entanglement that will result in different molecules at the other side. With careful coordination and selection maybe you can make the new body be just a gas cloud until you flip the switch.

Disclaimer: This is not really how quantum entaglement works in practice, but given your character has the ability to manipulate fine matter at a distance, I don't think it's too egregious a stretch.

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  • $\begingroup$ There's absolutely nothing saying that all this can occur at Planck time (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_time) $\endgroup$ – Richard Parnaby-King Jul 20 '18 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ @RichardParnaby-King Which part of it? Really all that matter is that the spins can be flipped in under Planck time, and the character's ability to manipulate molecules at will I don't think this is a stretch. $\endgroup$ – Cain Jul 20 '18 at 18:17
  • $\begingroup$ Re-reading what I wrote, I meant "cannot" - There's absolutely nothing saying that all this cannot occur at Planck time #PulledATrump. What I mean, is that once the character has decided to teleport, all of this can occur instantly, at Planck time. $\endgroup$ – Richard Parnaby-King Jul 23 '18 at 8:24
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Another try on space manipulation: Instead of creating a wormhole as suggested by this answer by Nate White, your hero could encapsulate himself into an area of space-time that's moving with superluminar speed to the desired location. We know that space-time can move at those speeds, and you would not kill your hero, so this would be a viable alternative.

Furthermore, his molecule-manipulation can be explained by manipulating space-time itself, so this could be a nice little workaround.

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    $\begingroup$ Just to note: Star Trek's warp drive and the Alcubierre drive it inspired use this method. It should have the same issues as those as well, namely travel over light years takes time from the traveler's perspective (vs just moving at traditional light speed which does not), so a livable environment will need to accompany them, which was brought up in the question. $\endgroup$ – jaxad0127 Jul 18 '18 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ It's also worth mentioning that moving a starship this way would take more energy than contained in the mass of the entire universe. (Reference: Professor Ian Stewart in "The Science of Discworld".) So whilst it is not impossible under the laws of physics, it does present an "engineering challenge"... $\endgroup$ – Graham Jul 18 '18 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Graham maybe my English failed me here, but my idea basicallly breaks down to cut the space around the hero out and move that piece. Afaik an Alcubierre drive folds spacetime. $\endgroup$ – DarthDonut Jul 19 '18 at 5:26
  • $\begingroup$ @DarthDonut Yes, and that needs a lot of energy. You don't get it for free. $\endgroup$ – Graham Jul 19 '18 at 6:45
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Travel at speed of light is instantaneous for the traveler, so he'll be "there" in an instant even when it's 10 light years, but when he travels back he'll find that 20 years have passed. (Note that this kind of travel is already enough to construct signal-your-own-past paradoxes - not for the traveler himself but for people who are moving at relativistic speeds in relation to him.)

Whether disassembling a person and reassembling it elsewhere is an instance of death or not, now that's a deep philosophical question. You can make your traveller unsure about it (which may be an interesting narrative sideline or not for your story), or you can answer it as "yes he dies every time and resents it but is forced to accept it", or you can answer it as "no, the generally accepted consensus is that the person is still the same in all relevant matters". Or you can simply ignore the question in the story, and leave it to your fans to ponder the question; you'd be in good company doing so, many great writers have.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding.SE! A little tip about markdown: to get a paragraph you need to hit Enter twice. Or you can have a soft linebreak by having two spaces at the end of a line before hitting Enter once, but most people prefer to just use paragraphs. If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jul 18 '18 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ Assuming that Special Relativity is an effective model of reality, it applies to objects traveling at a constant velocity relative to each other going out AND coming back is not a constant velocity. Moreover, the model says that each observer sees the time dilation in the other, not one of them experiencing dilation and the other not. $\endgroup$ – WGroleau Jul 18 '18 at 15:47
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The simplest answer I can think of from the perspective of this hero is that what they actually do is deconstruct and reconstruct the entire physical universe around themselves subconsciously.

They don’t die by any reasonable measure,it seems like they’ve moved instantaneously, everyone around them seems to be exactly the same (just in a different place).

I mean, they only half-killed everyone in the known universe, right?

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4th dimension.

Grab your kata and ana while I take you on a trippy dimensional trip.

Imagine you are a one dimensional creature: a point. Your world is a line. You can move back and forth along it. Your point dog is behind you.

Now imagine that your one dimensional line world can fold back in two dimensions. You are still a point moving along a line from your perspective. You cannot tell it bends, because what is "bends"? But in the second dimension, you are now immediately adjacent to the point containing your old dog point, who is one point behind you along your line.

But adjacent is not the right word. Consider the line, now in a two dimensional square. How many one dimensional lines can fit in a two dimensional square? Infinitely many. The point you occupy has no depth. Your point might be in the same two dimensional space as that of your dog, whose point also has no depth. Every point along the 1d line could be folded back so that every point overlaps every other point in 2d. The points take up no 2d space; they will fit.

Consider now that you are a 2d flatlander: a square. A cube can hold infinite squares. If the 2d square flatland world is folded through the third dimension, you could fold back to be right on top of your dog. In fact, since 2d space has no third dimension, you could overlap the space your dog is in. There is nothing between you. If you could move through 3d, you could reach into his space and give him a treat. Like the line, you can fold your 2d world up so everyplace is overlapping everyplace else.

Now consider a three dimensional universe cube from the standpoint of 4 dimensional tesseract (4d cube). Like lines in a square or squares in a cube, an infinite number of cubes can fit in a tesseract. The cube can be folded in 4d an infinite number of ways. This will not be apparent to 3d residents of the cube. In 4d, a three dimensional space might overlap with another 3 dimensional space. In 4d, every 3d space might overlap with every other three dimensional space, just as all the points in the lineworld might overlap in 2d space.

Here is the trippiest part of the trip: back to the lineworld. In one 2d space it is straight. In one 2d space it might be like a paperclip. In one 2d space it is folded back on itself so that every point is superimposed on every other. Which is it? Well, how many 2d spaces are there? How many are in your 3d cube? Infinite. The line world occupies them all. For any given configuration of your folded line world, there exists an infinite number of 2d spaces in which the world has your configuration.

So too with our third dimension. For any given folding pattern in 4d, there exists infinite 4d spaces in which our universe is folded that way. Because there are infinite 4d spaces in a 5d space, and infinite - well, turtles all the way down, you know.

Your characters mastery of molecules can understand their position relative to each other in the 3d world he inhabits, and also, to the degree his mind can encompass, their position in some of the infinite 4d spaces his 3d world is folded into. Really only the subset of 4d spaces where all cubes of his 3d space overlap is of any use (that I can think of), and of the infinite number of them maybe he wrangles only a couple.

The awareness of such spaces and the ability to manipulate them means he can move through 4d space to any other 3d space, and really not move at all. His dog is right next to him even though he is a continent away, and he can reach through 4d with a steak scrap.

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    $\begingroup$ This is like the space-bending method for interstellar transportation as seen in Dune. I was thinking of this as a great answer to the original post. "He who controls the spice controls the universe!!!" $\endgroup$ – Stevernator Jul 20 '18 at 4:58
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Teleport one chunk of the persons brain at a time instead of the entire brain at once

Have another body for the traveler set up at the destination and remove a small chunk of the travelers brain and put a copy of that chunk into the other body and have communication between that chunk and the part of the travelers brain back in the original location. Then repeat the process until every chunk of the travelers brain has been copied into the body at the destination. This way the travelers experience is continuous as at every point during the teleportation the travelers consciousness is composed of both parts in the original brain and parts in the new brain.

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Remember about no-cloning principle in quantum mechanics!

Consider the state of his psyche/qualia/consciousness/whatever as a quantum state too. His body is only a set of matter particles. Only proper configuration makes his body himself.

So he is not cloning and killing himself but also transfers his mind state to a new body. Because he is unable to really copy the state, he is unable to suffer the death neither (by his clone at least).

What remains in departure place after teleportation is only some set of particles in disorder.

The real problem here is the speed of light. Quantum teleportation requires some classical information channel. You even have to transfer the information about his body ingredients before transferring quantum state.

But it is all your universe, so you are free to invent some mysterious law of physics to overcome it: tachions, wormholes, magic, etc...

Edit

What is the problem about travelling with the speed faster than light by any object? Obviously we can find an inertial system where given object travels through time.

So this is my point now! Give you character an ability to travel through time!

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  • $\begingroup$ This is the point the "teleportation = cloning + death" comments always miss. You cannot simply copy a bunch of matter with its quantum states, and for what little we know, the mind is almost certainly using quantum effects in the brain to function. So with a Star Trek-like teleportation, even if you don't disintegrate the old Kirk body from the departure point, all you'll get, after (somehow) transferring Kirk's state to the new body, is a dead body with scrambled neurons. May be useful for organ replacement, though... $\endgroup$ – Eth Jul 19 '18 at 10:30
  • $\begingroup$ In fact, teleportation cloning accidents can happen in Star Trek because there is a thing called "Heisenberg compensator" thingie that allows to bypass that problem and arbitrarily copy quantum states. Fortunately for the character here, this is pure magic and has no basis in known science whatsoever. $\endgroup$ – Eth Jul 19 '18 at 10:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Eth "almost certainly" is a bit strong for a hypothesis with no empirical evidence in favor, and with strong evidence that it is unlikely (e.g. decoherence times). $\endgroup$ – Fax Jul 19 '18 at 14:54
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Most answers focus on the solution for teleportation, and I think the wormholes solution fits well for your requirements. This part is well covered by other answers so I will not go into it deeper.

My answer focuses on the training part. This was too long to fit in a comment, so I turned it into an answer.

Creating the wormhole entry and exit points could probably be done with molecules manipulation, the construct requires extreme energy input, which he could probably generate with his powers.

He could first learn to create a small construct in such a way that it covers a small distance like let's say enough to push a bug through and see it pop out 2 meters away. He could wreck his surroundings while doing so, being inexperienced.

With practice he would learn to generate entry and exit portals so that they match his body shape with molecular precision (so he gets to spend less energy), also he would control the side effects on the surroundings better.

You could even pop in some humor like him teleporting himself and getting on the other side naked, or him teleporting other people with the same effect. Then mastering the technique to include clothes.

Edit: you might want to read A.E. van Vogt's Non-A World (a three book series). It's about a guy who can teleport himself, or others (or the tail of a flying plane to destroy the said plane).

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I would say that approach #1 does not necessarily kill the man; only if it happens too quickly.

I remember a story about a ship that travelled the world. It would rot away, erode, become damaged... but the crew would repair it. Eventually the ship lost each original part, yet completed its voyage.

Your body is as this ship; new parts as the old degrade.

So if he really moves his molecules one at a time, instead of instantaneous transmission, I could argue he never dies.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Ship of Theseus is the story you're describing :) It's commonly used in teleportation analogies. $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan Jul 20 '18 at 11:46
  • $\begingroup$ That's the one. $\endgroup$ – DeepDeadpool Jul 20 '18 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ Theres a similar metaphor about grandfather's axe... $\endgroup$ – Efialtes Feb 3 at 19:35
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I recommend "A Fire Upon the Deep". Let's say a pack animal was able to communicate fast enough that it was able to act and think as one mind. If a "mind" is five animals what would happen if the mind was transport elsewhere one animal at a time? Would the mind die and a new mind form afterwards? I don't think so. In your case the character could break his mind into five parts and only one part is disassembled and transported at a time. As far as distance goes what if each part only goes 1 light second (186282 miles) at a time and the parts leap frog each other? The speed of travel will be the speed of light plus however long it takes to disassemble and reassemble a part. He will think slowly during this time and will only be 4/5th as smart as normal but I'm sure he's a bright guy right?

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Other answers have provided potential scientific techniques to move yourself instantaneously to simulate teleportation (whether or not it would still count as teleportation or merely faster-than-light travel, I don't know). I will argue that this is not philosophically necessary in the first place.

You've already been reconstructed

You may not realize it, but this process has already happened to you countless times. Every second of every day, molecular turnover is occurring in your cells. Molecules that make up the neurons in your brain that hold your dearest childhood memories are not the same molecules that you had when those memories were formed, and yet you didn't die as a child. Because of this fact, the effect of teleportation will be no different from natural turnover in your body. Unless you argue that a more rapid turnover somehow kills you but a gradual one does not, or that you are already dead from molecular turnover, you are stuck with only one conclusion: teleportation is survivable!

Death is not death if you survive

Death is defined as the irreversible cessation of all vital biological functions. If your teleportation is actually duplication and not merely near-instantaneous movement, you have not died. This is because our consciousness comes from the arrangement of neurons in our brain, not from the matter that makes up these neurons. As long as this arrangement is preserved (and you do not materialize as a homogeneous blob of organic matter), your consciousness and sense of self will be preserved. The simple fact is that our mind is an emergent product of a processing medium, in our case, our brain. As long as the medium is functionally the same, you will have the same individual.

The Ship of Theseus

This is a thought experiment involving a physical ship kept in a museum on display. Over time, one part breaks and is replaced, yet it is still the original. Over time though, every part will have been replaced. At what point is it no longer original? This thought experiment assumes that the replacements are identical. In the real world of course, replacements will be made of different materials and will have different properties, but in a thought experiment where the replacements are the same, you can never say, at any specific point, that the ship is no longer original. The same applies to your own body, whether this restoration occurs over years as the result of natural biological maintenance, or instantaneously as the result of teleportation.

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  • $\begingroup$ This form of teleportation would grant the character immortality assuming it assembles a genetically perfect copy of him. $\endgroup$ – Efialtes Feb 3 at 19:33
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I think you need to rethink your perception of speed of light and light years.

A 'light year' is a measurement of distance. 'Speed of light' is a perception of speed over distance and a constant in our universe.

But when an object travels at the speed of light, time effectively stops still from your reference point.

So assuming your character can travel at the speed of light why would he need to create an extravagant method of teleporting himself to save time travelling several light years, there would be no notion of time passing while travelling at the speed of light.

Accrual of time would only happen at sublight speeds, so there would be no need to teleport, if the reasoning is to save time.

This answer from physics exchange might help understand a bit more.

https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/29082/would-time-freeze-if-you-could-travel-at-the-speed-of-light

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. You may also find Worldbuilding Meta and The Sandbox (both of which require 5 rep to post on) useful. Here is a meta post on the culture and style of Worldbuilding.SE, just to help you understand our scope and methods. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – FoxElemental Jul 18 '18 at 23:53
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Quantum Teleportation via Entanglement

Teleportation without dying:

First: "Create" a bunch of particles, each entangled with the particles in the living body that needs to be moved.

Next: Move them somewhere else

Finally: Reassemble and "observe" them.

Quantum entanglement is an instantaneous non local effect. It doesn't matter how far apart the "clone" is, as the clone is observed in the new location the quantum states of each of the other particles will now be here - while the remote state becomes decoherent.

Each component of the living being simply changes which of the particles it is on, allowing for an instantaneous transfer of the entire creatures quantum state including consciousness to simply toggle. You need quite a bit of energy obviously as during the process you need 2x the mass of the body being transported, and a place to dump the energy afterwards as the now decoherent set of particles that were where the body was are now just free mess of gluons, up/down quarks and electrons.

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This is a fun problem to approach from a theoretical standpoint. And really to reach a satisfying conclusion we need to discuss what constitutes consciousness in general. Basically what approach this character would come up with for the famous ship of Theseus problem. To avoid rambling on for paragraphs upon paragraphs I would say that an acceptable philosophy to take is that consciousness and the 'self' exist only so long as there is a continuity of experiences. So the new ship is the ship of Theseus because the ship is defined not just by its parts but the continuous state of being the ship. In order to rectify the 'dying' situation, have the teleport happen more slowly. His body slowly dissolving and being rebuilt in real time at the other end. This way he is experiencing both places at the same time as his body slowly fades molecule by molecule to the new spot and his experience and consciousness is continuous.

Admittedly that's more of my personal philosophy on teleportation as defined by most scifis. But I hope it gives some helpful things to think on.

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It could be that his ability to manipulate matter also allows him to change properties outside of our 3+1 spacetime dimensions.

If he's able to shift himself outside of our normal space dimensions, and then shift back, he could shift back to another location far away from where he started.

You can avoid the time travel issue by saying that while space might not apply in other dimensions, time is always moving forward at one tick per tick, and so you can't travel away and back and end up before you left. Some amount of time will have passed, even if it's only fractions of a second (based on time dilation and all the other messy things.)

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protected by James Jul 20 '18 at 13:41

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