So, I've got an idea for galactic travel involving some fancy particle physics and the Higgs-field, but I've just discovered I don't know how teleporting really works. Or any of that kind of stuff, for that matter. Let's say you had a teleport that didn't use a portal or home base and it could just travel anywhere, how would you target it to where it wants to go?

If you want any clarification, feel free to ask, I don't think I worded this well at all or really got it across, answers are still appreciated though.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ "I don't know how teleporting really works:" If you mean how it works in the real world, then it is easy: is does not work. If you mean how it works in your story, then it is also easy: it works the way you want it to work -- in your story you are supreme God, Creator and Demiurge. I am not sure that I understand why you think that somebody else can tell you how magic works in your story. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jul 11 at 21:59
  • $\begingroup$ Teleportation is a well established idea that you don't have to explain to people. If you don't know enough to write about it, don't. Even if you get the perfect answer, chances are you will not understand it fully and make embarrassing mistakes when constructing your world. Just say it works and move on $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Jul 11 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP I'll rephrase then. What are common or effective ways that sci-fi authors have solved this issue that you have heard of? Is there any real world premise that could set a foundation for it? $\endgroup$ – Janie Cox Jul 11 at 22:10
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ How does teleportation work WITH a pad or something? $\endgroup$ – puppetsock reinstate Monica Jul 11 at 22:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And I am telling you that it is your choice. Maybe it works only to teleport people in places that they have visited personally, and targetting is done by thinking of such a place. Maybe targetting works by deep meditation, involving intricate mental repetitions of preset mantras. Maybe it works by reading aloud a 64 hexadecimal digit code obtained from the Department of Teleportation. Maybe it works by computing the galactic co-ordinates of the target with very high precision. Maybe in works "naturally", without any conscious thought. How could I possibly know how it works in your story? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jul 11 at 22:20

Use a coordinate system.

If I want to tell you to go to a place, I need to be able to describe the place to you. I can tell you "that place we hid the weed" and you will know. But if we are strangers, or are talking about a place neither of us have ever been, we need some objective way of describing that place.

You need a coordinate system. There are many. If you go on google maps you can put in 39°30'33.6"N 98°26'01.3"W and see what is there. It is a latitude and longitude coordinate. You could add elevation above or below sea level to get a third dimension. You could make a 3d coordinate system based on the sun of your system, or the center of your galaxy. You could add a 4th time coordinate. Maybe your system has other coordinates that are optional or that people don't generally use.

Once you know the coordinates of where you want to go, you address your teleport system there and BAMF!

A universe wide coordinate system would be tricky I think because everything is moving relative to everything else. But you could dream one up for your fiction.


So you want a coordinate system for the universe...

Let's assume that your teleportation system relies on a centralized information source which has some existing knowledge such as the constantly updated coordinates of the absolute center of mass of every inhabited planet that your species knows about.

Now getting to anywhere in the inhabited universe starts by providing the name (or id number) of the destination planet.

Let's assume that on the planet, there is another repository of knowledge which records and maintains the distance from its' absolute center to surface level along every possible 3 dimensional vector out from that center. Now all you need to get to any point on the destination planet's surface, is the two radial angles which specifically identify a given vector. Let's simplify this slightly by using the angles as they were during a particular universally agreed upon moment in time. The planet side repository can then do the grunt work of translating those time-locked reference angles to the actual angles required to reach the same location at the moment of teleportation. This eliminates the need for requiring the traveler to account for planetary rotation and pitch changes. They refer to a particular location on a planet using the angles which pointed to it at the millisecond that the planet joined the empire, and local computers figure out which direction leads to that same location now.

From there all we need is a height adjustment to handle the positive or negative distance you want to arrive either above or below the surface. Including this would allow you to arrive on a second floor or in a subterranean tunnel or even in a particular point in orbit of the planet. In that last case, you might have a missing velocity challenge, but your plummet downward is your problem, not a failure of the coordinates system.

So a universal address would include...

1). A planet name 2). Two highly precise radian angles which describe a referential vector from that planet's center to a time-locked point on its surface 3). A height adjustment from the planet's surface at that specific de-referenced location.

With those three components, anywhere in the known universe is just a button press away.


How do you target regular transportation? Well, you move in a certain direction at a certain speed for a certain amount of time. With teleportation, you do the same thing, except the speed component is bigger, presumably you move through obstacles, and the time component is nearly zero.



Since teleportation doesn't happen in our universe (let's avoid semantic arguments about entangled photons), you can posit whatever you wish.

Remember that StarTrek:TOS used pads for their beaming, but they certainly weren't necessary. The back-story was that the reliability/safety was improved when pads were available.

By comparison, any number of SciFi writers have posited the requirement for a receiver (be it ainsible, constructed wormhole, or StarGate) to be in place. Some poor slob had to travel at V < c to place the receiver.


So, I've got an idea for galactic travel involving some fancy particle physics and the Higgs-field, but I've just discovered I don't know how teleporting really works.

It is your story, so it works how you want it.   However, this sounds like you are intending to supress the Higgs effect around a bubble of space surrounding the cargo (a "warp manifold"), to render this massless with respect to the rest of the universe (but now within itself, as you don't want a fancy disintegrator), so that the contents then travel faster than the speed of light, in a specified direction for a set period.   Preferably without interacting with intervening matter.

So you just need to orientate the warp and set the timer -- with incredible precision.

Er, well your system should also compensate for changes in relative velocity and angular momentum, et cetera and other issues, but that's usually handwaved away ("inertial dampeners").

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Also note that suppressing the Higgs field will not make baryonic matter massless--it'll just make all of your atoms fall apart, and then you explode. $\endgroup$ – Logan R. Kearsley Jul 12 at 2:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.