Posts Tagged future dave

Teleportation 2

Greg brought up an interesting conundrum when it comes to use of teleportation – is it possible to call the “you” that comes out the other side someone different?  For many methods of teleportation, this is debatable – it depends on what you consider to define identity.  For more on this topic, check out Identity.

Today, however, I wanted to talk about the one form of teleportation that I believe avoids the identity problem, and which also might have the most reasonable chance of being possible, although with quite a few “ifs”:

2. Wormholes (Gates)

All massive objects distort spacetime.  You can imagine the fabric of the universe as a rubber mat of some thickness suspended over, well, nothing (!), and that all objects with mass sit on top of it, sinking down into the fabric and distorting it into wells.  Supermassive objects will distort it enough to break it at the bottom – these are singularities.

So now you could imagine distorting spacetime by a bit in one location and by a bit in another faraway, creating two gravity wells – and then punching through the surface of spacetime to join the two wells.  This joining tube between two locations in the rubber sheet is called a wormhole.  (Alternately, if spacetime folds around by itself – as in, sometimes two apparently faraway locations are actually on top of one another – then you can naturally create a wormhole via one well.)  The kind of wormhole I described is very unstable – any mass that passes through it will destroy it, since all mass distorts spacetime, and the wormhole are MADE of spacetime.  To stabilize it, we need something called “exotic matter,” which is like negative matter – it pushes the walls out (gravitational repulsion) and stabilizes the wormhole.

Anyway, in theory that’s how it works.  So, if spacetime happens to fold itself, or if we can punch from one gravity well to another, and if exotic matter exists and we can find it, and when we have a process for directed spacetime distortion… then we can “teleport” via wormholes!

Once a wormhole is created, you should be able to drag around the “mouths” to change the distance it spans.  (By the way, if you can drag a “mouth” at near-light speed, you can create a time machine… assuming the exotic matter disperses radiation moving through it.  I’ll talk more about this in Time Travel.)  So I think you would have a transportation agency moving mouths around to major transit points, and a lab or few making them (given the constraints of exotic matter and the energies required to make a wormhole, I think there would not be very many Wormhole Creation Facilities.)

Wormhole travel is not instantaneous.  You still have to move at regular speeds through the tunnel.  This would require short range (miles rather than light-years) space vessels.  So probably the character of transportation is our current airline system, with bigger voyages (more like cruises?) and longer range.

Science fiction has many examples of wormhole travel – Star Trek, Stargates, the farcasters from Hyperion, and any space travel that does faster-than-light travel without a special spacetime-bending technology (FTL drive).

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In a lunch chat with some folks from work, we discussed the potential composition of a Magic card – could more space be devoted to aesthetic elements, like the art?  Could the presentation of information be better?  This led into an interesting side discussion of “hypercards” – a card-thin LCD+computer where you configure it from among your digital collection and then play with the stack of hypercards.

My high school friend Dave recently completed doctoral work with MIT Media Lab creating something called Siftables, which indicate the feasibility of this “hypercard” idea.  But at the point where we are using things like Siftables and hypercards, why not go completely digital?  What will be the draw of the analog game at that point?  A lot of the “advantages” of analog – feels physical, easy to use, no barrier to entry – might actually be replaced with stronger advantages in the digital space at some point.

I think we (including me) who exist now in a world of analog games – we grew up with them, many of our digital games are based in analog metaphor – have a hard time imagining a world without them.  However, it is clear that youth evolve over generations to expect different things: the replacement of the phone with texting, the physical CD with digital music, and the ubiquity of the internet are all pointing that way.

Is this just a gradual evolution, so that even as things change, roots (analog games) are retained?  Or is there a point at which the older version is dropped in favor of the new?  How can we figure out when that break might occur?

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Teleportation 1

How would access to instantaneous transport change the world?  In some ways, it’s a monumental task of imagination to think through all the implications.  To start, I figured I would think through the various ways in which we (the human race) might one day achieve teleportation.

1. Quantum Teleportation (QT)

We know that it is possible to transmit very tiny bits of information across large distances without transporting the underlying physical system.  Due to the nature of these quantum states, the information is the system.  QT is a destructive operation – when you measure the state-to-be-teleported sufficiently to be to able to define it, you destroy that system.  You then transmit the information (classically; meaning, at the speed of light) over to the receiver and the state-that-was-teleported is reconstructed from that information.  Matter is required at both ends – you are measurable a real physical system, and you project the information into another real physical system.  In some sense, the destination system is imprinted with the character of the teleported system, becoming it.

So how would this process be evolved to become a reusable, effective teleportation system?  Could it be that classical beings, seen as the combination of a huge number of quantum states, can be destructively measured and then reconstructed state-by-state?  I’m not sure anyone really understands the boundary between quantum (uncertainty, entanglement, wavelike) and classical (predictable, measurable) physical behavior.  Is there a boundary?  It is very hard for my classical brain to grasp the nature of quantum mechanics intuitively — as Richard Feynman said, “I think it is safe to say that no one understands Quantum Mechanics.”

But let’s imagine.  If it is possible to QT a person, and it became widespread technology, the concept of body would be secondary (or maybe even meaningless) to the information content of your person.  Since the process of measurement before teleport “destroys” the quantum system, I guess your original body would be trashed (and reclaimed?) in a facility, and then your person would be imprinted on available material at the destination.

Ugh, this method doesn’t sound too great.

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Excursion Diversions

I’m heading off to the Caribbean on a cruise in about two and a half weeks – a repeat of last year’s excellent Magic cruise, organized by two fun-loving friends from the Midwest, Steve and Lindsey.  It’s a cruise through the frickin’ Caribbean, quite magical in and of itself, but since it is nominally a Magic event as well (with numerous shipboard tournaments and leagues and drafts over the course of the weekend) it’s a good way to meet more laid-back and friendly Magic players from all over.  I’m trying to nail down the excursions (daytrips while harbored) I want to take; specifically, so that I can run them by roommate Mick and make sure we are at least purposefully not doing the same things (as opposed to accidentally).

A group of people are doing the pub crawl in Key West – that sounds fun, but I want to be sure I get a real-deal-kinda scuba experience this time, and Key West has a snuba activity that looks interesting.  Actually, the correct play is probably to pub crawl with people in Key West (a great way to icebreak and get to know some of our fellow cruisers better) and then do beginner’s scuba in Grand Cayman.

I thought the combination snorkeling and bicycle ride excursion I took with Bill and Jess last year in Cozumel was pretty awesome, so I’d like to do a third excursion that’s about the level of physical activity as biking… maybe some sort of dune buggy adventure in the mountains of Jamaica?  Actually, looking over the options, zipline + river tubing sounds both surreal and sublime, so I think that’ll be the tentative plan.

I know, rough life. :)

(Also, whoa, talk about an upgrade from last year — apparently the Carnival Freedom, our ship for this year’s cruise, has some sort of fancy steakhouse on board that you can make reservations for [but you have to do it two weeks in advance!]  Wowza!  It’s like a secret excursion to deliciousness.)

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Ten for 2010

After reviewing the past year, I can see a better way to define my resolutions. You see, I seemed to fail when I set a lofty goal with no specific plan for implementation (run a 400m; business plan), and I did fine when there was an obvious procedure for completion implied (learn a language; reduce caffeine).

So, time to revise the WAY in which I make resolutions. For those of you familiar with “SMART” goals, that’s my plan – create resolutions that have measurable progress, the kinds that I can ask a friend, “Hey, how do you think I am doing?” and they would be able to answer after asking me some straightforward questions.

(Thanks also to Brian T. for the advice on this front!)

Here we go!

  1. Write one blog entry a day.
    A perennial favorite, but I’ve never really made it out of January still observing any sort of bloglike resolution.  Will 2010 be the year I make it over the journal hump?
  2. Spend five hours each week on personal “side projects” – websites, games, etc.
    I would like to spend more time on personal development, development in this case meaning keeping myself sharp and up-to-date in the technology sphere.  I expect that if I work on games using this time, they will be digital games… but maybe another Evil Geniuses is on the horizon!
  3. Exercise three times a week.
    Setting a regular schedule and sticking to it will be the hardest part of this resolution – once I am in the gym or out running, it is rarely hard to keep it going for the duration of that session.  Getting on a regular work schedule so that I can devote hours at the start or end of the workday will certainly help.
  4. Prepare food for myself at least seven times a week (counting breakfast).
    I am definitely eating out too much – it’s so easy and so delicious!  Of course, it’s also more expensive and more unhealthy.  I think among three meals a day, even with work lunches usually being “out”, I have a strong chance of success – as long as I lay some of the groundwork, like a grid of potential meals on the fridge!
  5. Host three different out-of-town friends (or friend-couples) at my place for at least two days each.
    Now that I have a great new house, I want to set it up so that I can host friends (only fair – they are always hosting me when I am visiting them!)  I don’t know who exactly will be making trips to visit, but as long as my place is a hospitable place to stay, I bet I’ll have some takers.
  6. Create a pros/cons document for each reasonable career path I could take.
    I have a lot of pros and cons swimming around in my head for each career I have considered – making games, making websites, working on my own, going back to school and doing physics research – but I haven’t really set them down on paper, much less done a real comparative analysis.  The hope is that this task will inform my decisions about where to go job-wise in the next year to five.
  7. Go out (as in, social activity outside my normal friend circles) at least three times a month.
    I had tons of fun when I was living in Boston and going out frequently with friends – even though sometimes (like for birthday parties) it really was “take the group of friends and put them in a bar,” a lot of time I was out in new places and with new people.  I would like to return to that, and I think I can convince some friends to join me.
  8. Study some physics books and take two GRE Physics practice tests – receiving a better score on the latter!
    Recently, I have been wondering where all my physics knowledge went – and whenever it comes up in conversation, I feel bad that I can’t really teach others about some of the finer points because I don’t really remember them myself!  I would also like to prepare in the eventuality that I return to school, so this sort of kills two bodies with a single ballistic projectile.
  9. Travel to one of {mainland Asia, Australia, sub-Saharan Africa}.
    I travel a lot, sometimes for work, sometimes for fun, but not really enough.  These three regions are three that I have never really spent any time thinking about, and I would like to go and see how different it is from what I am used to.
  10. Stress less.
    A timeless goal, but tried and true.

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