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I'm currently outlining my science fiction novel which deals with humanity reaching Type 3 civilization status. My goal is to place an emphasis on hard science fiction while featuring fantastic technologies, a very delicate and complicated balance to be sure. Right now, I am debating as to whether or not I should incorporate teleportation in my story.

Recently, I consulted with a friend of mine who is a physicist and he suggested to use wormholes (something akin to the Taelon teleporters featured in Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict) because they are the ideal method for teleportation, that is, they can theoretically bypass barriers such as walls, floors, and ceilings, and more importantly, they don't involve disassembling people at the atomic level and converting them into radiation (unlike the transporter in Star Trek, so that's out).

The only two problems he sees with this are:

  • the energy requirements would be astronomically insane
  • characters using it would need to wear EVA/radiation suits to protect themselves from the deadly radiation of the wormhole.

Based on these two obstacles, I would imagine it would make more sense both technologically and energy-wise on an economic level for my characters to travel the old-fashion way.

So, are there other options to incorporate teleportation in my story in a realistic fashion that adheres to the laws of physics or should I forget about it and just stick to starships, shuttlecrafts, and spaceplanes instead? What does everybody else think?

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This question asks for hard science. All answers to this question should be backed up by equations, empirical evidence, scientific papers, other citations, etc. Answers that do not satisfy this requirement might be removed. See the tag description for more information.

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    $\begingroup$ The laws of physics of the modern world are different from those prevalent in Ancient Greece. It is extremely likely that the laws of physics known by a [Karsashev] Type III civilization will be quite different from those known by our primitive brains. If we knew enough physics in order to predict what technolgy would be available to a Type III civilization we wouldn't be spending time on this web site. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 29 '18 at 7:01
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    $\begingroup$ Do you want this question to be "science-based", or "hard-science"? $\endgroup$ – Jasper Sep 29 '18 at 7:13
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding, please take the tour and visit the help center. You picked 3 tags which, based on their descriptions, are mutually exclusive and shall not be used as only tag in a question. Second and most important, what is the actual problem you want our help to solve? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Sep 29 '18 at 7:22
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP, I think you mean the phsyics model used by the sapient beings in Ancient Greece were different from today. The Sun kept attracting Earth in the same way of today, regardless of what Aristotle thought. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Sep 29 '18 at 7:26
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch: The Sun and the Earth attract each other as they always did and they always will. On the other hand, neither the Sun nor the Earth know how they attract each other. The laws of physics are mutable human cultural constructs, as is everything thought or made by imperfect mortals. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Sep 29 '18 at 11:19
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Your worm-hole problems can be circumvented. Radiation damage could be solved by simple nano-machines fixing damaged biological machinery and the high energy requirements could either be solved by the entire galaxy worth of stars you're now harvesting for energy or by using more sophisticated mathematics when curving space time, possibly utilising higher-dimensional effects.

Other than that the only option i can see working for you is quantum teleportation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_teleportation but that's likely to be just as hard to pull off for human-size objects as star-treks teleporters (which I'm not sure why you're discounting?)

You could also use arrival style "download your brain into a body elsewhere" teleportation, but I'm not sure if that's what you have in mind.

You could also consider "nanite teleportation" explained here and see if it suits your needs: https://youtu.be/rtljRNDuQvY?t=17m5s

Bare in mind out of these methods only the wormhole one will allow for FTL teleportation under known science, if your considering using them to replace star-ships.

Honestly though teleporters, much like force-fields, giants robots and pew pew "laser" guns are so ubiquitous in sci-fi that you can probably get away with simply not bothering to justify them to your audience or saying that they work of laws of physics that we don't yet understand.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Star Trek transporters have probably been discounted because of the "Ship of Theseus" paradox - if you take a person apart at point A, and put them back together at point B, have you actually just murdered them and created a duplicate? $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Nov 23 '18 at 12:27
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In most classic science fiction novels the new tech is just background and authors were focused on something else (individual, person interaction, society, love, fairness etc). If your story doesn't rolling around teleportation then it's maybe OK to just postulate it.

One of possible dialogs which introduced teleportation without any explanation:
- I'm still afraid teleporting.
- Oh, Jane, some people afraid airplanes, some bugs but they're not dying when deal with it.
- But do you know how teleport is working?
- Jane, do you know how TV/hologram is working? How we could speak each other from different continents/planets/star systems? It's just working. About 80 years.
- I don't know...
- And I miss you. Just visit me. Please.

The better story in a whole (storyline, characters), the less questions to the details. Some examples which came to my mind first

  • StarTrek univere. It's not a hard-science story. There are many blunders which people mentioned (like why all top-officers are going to a mission?) but nobody cares how they travelled between stars.
  • I. Asimov in his I, Robot stories described the world where each robot have positronic brain. He didn't bothered how this brain made from. It's just working (sometimes with issues).
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    $\begingroup$ With a caveat of setting how it works in a way consistent enough to avoid ex-machinas. Nothing irks me more than a novel ending like "do you know that teletransportation technology we have been using for a century and that we take for granted? Now, if we just push this button and that lever, the teletransport machine becomes a duplicator that solves our problem. And in all those years nobody else had figured it out!". If the technology is a crucial part of the plot, then more detail is needed. $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 Sep 29 '18 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ @SJuan76 sure, it's what I note in first sentence: often new tech is just background. If it's not the case then my answer become invalid. $\endgroup$ – ADS Sep 30 '18 at 18:37
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Larry Niven came up with an interesting approach, teleportation booths, designed kinda like a nesting doll, the inner booth and all its contents are switched with another booth. The total energy of the system is conserved. (not counting the massive amount of energy needed to actually do the teleportation) so when one person teleports from a booth in a mountain sky resort to a sea level hospital they are nearly cooked alive from angular momentum converted to heat.

The key to incorporating highly advanced technology beyond what we have is to not explain how it works (if it were possibly with what we know now we would already have it, imagine trying to explain nuclear technology to people before hte discovery of or atoms or radiation) but to come up with rules about how they work and stick to them.

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You're writing Science FICTION.

It is very admirable and I support that you want to incorporate current scientific understanding into your story.

However, teleportation has become general lore in sci-fi but has no actual proof in science.
Your Tag for hard-science is misplaced.
It asks for empirical proof that can't be provided for credible working or theoretical technology.

There are only theories and experimental results on the quantum level that have been interpreted and extended into the macrocosmos:

  • Einstein-Rosen bridge -> Wormholes

  • Quantum entaglement -> indirect teleportation (through determainable correlated characteristics,i.e.data)

  • Quantum tunneling -> direct teleportation (particle "passing" through an unpassable barrier)

We don't possess the understanding or technology to take this step into the macrocosmos NOR the understanding to conclude that these phenomena actually constitute mechanics we assume in our interpretations.

That is the beauty of Science Fiction, it can.
As has been said, establish the rules of your technology and remain within those boundaries.
Explain only conceptually and vaguely enough not to trap yourself in logical fallacies or currently known scientific inaccuracies within your world.
Consult scientists like your friend for feedback and support.

The story you want to tell should be the main focus, future tech only setting the stage.

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If you want to use your method, use it for large-scale transport at insane distances.

If you build a wormhole and create scaffholding to keep it open it costs a tremendous amount of energy to create, but (possibly) not a tremendous amount to keep it open, especially if the scaffholding is like the main walls of a building: it only costs energy to build, then the material doesnt require energy except the occasional maintenance to keep open.

Once done, you could send people and cargo from one important planet to another one, possibly one on the other end of the UNIVERSE, rather than just the other end of the Galaxy. Although it might be prudent to build these things in space rather than on a planet. This cuts down heavily on cost and time to send people and cargo, and it also makes FTL communication with the people in the other end possible, allowing for larger empires to exist.

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Scan. 3d print a copy at destination. Delete original.

That would allow teleporting between distant places.

Caveats. Can only be done up to a certain place, where you already set your web of 3D printers.

Since the mind it is a biochemical construct operating in a physical brain. Add some interface to upload the mind and trasmit it to the freshly printed body.

Printing a ship at destination is far more simple than a body, with the option to have extra ships on destination.

Also, could be done in advance if you copy your body and send it before. The only real Teleport can be reduced to transmiting your mind feom Body Origin(BO) to Body Destination(BD).

BO can be on Earth and BD on Mars. Stream concious across the distance, 12.5 light minutes. Way faster tan a real trip.

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You write a story about a Type 3 civilization. Energy is not a problem. Your civ can harness the energy output of the whole galaxy.

Now about the suits you need, you can bypass this restriction if you limit the teleportation to specific stations. For example, one can teleport from another star system to a station in Saturn and from there get the local space-taxi to Earth. These stations will use sophisticated equipment/shielding to teleport not a single individual, but a whole bunch of people/cargo. Think of them as our airports. The plane protect its passengers/cargo from the environmental dangers of the higher atmosphere.

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