2005 September 02 Friday
Beam Me Up Scotty: Will Teleportation Ever Become Possible?

Physicist Eric W. Davis recently completed a study on whether teleportation could ever work.

Davis, who has a doctorate in astrophysics from the University of Arizona, has worked on NASA robotic missions. His 79-page Air Force study seriously explored a series of possibilities, ranging from "Star Trek"-style travel to transportation via so-called wormholes in the fabric of space to psychic travel through solid walls.

I want to teleport to parallel universes, preferably at different points in time lines. I want to teleport to a parallel universe similar to our own with human civilizations but about 50 years further along in biotechnological development and get full SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) treatments that are very long lasting. Then, with a body full of biotech and nanotech that will keep me young for a couple of centuries I would want to travel into the past in other parallel universes.

The amount of computing power and energy needed would seem to preclude the possibility.

For example, the computing-encoding of the entire contents of a human body would require 10 to the 28th (the number one followed by 28 zeroes) kilobytes of computer storage capacity. It would take 100 quintillion of the world's best commercially available hard drives "to store the encoded information of just one human being."

Also, "it will take more than 2,400 times the present age of the universe (about 13 billion years) to access this amount of data" from the computers, Davis writes. And "to heat up and dematerialize one human being would require . .. the energy equivalent of 330 one-megaton thermonuclear bombs."

That's not exactly encouraging,

Tim Ventura of AmericanAntigravity.Com interviewed Eric Davis on Davis' wide range of interests in interstellar travel and also on the potential of doing teleportation.

Quantum teleportation will continue to evolve. The negative effects of decoherence upon the entanglement process is now becoming well understood and brought under control, so that the fidelity of teleporting the quantum states of large samples of atomic matter and photons has improved and will continue to do so. The science will evolve to demonstrate the teleportation of molecular states and later on large samples of molecules will have their states successfully teleported. Other quantum teleportation breakthroughs will continue to be announced, and these will involve teleporting other features and facets of matter and information that we have yet to fathom.

It will become possible in the future to forsee dabbling in the quantum teleportation of live beings and bulk inanimate matter (like cargo). But this will involve the destruction of their physical quantum states in order to teleport those states to another "glom" of matter, thus destroying the originals. This will create difficult ethical questions that will have to be considered.

My guess is if any of us wants to live to see teleportation we first need to solve the relatively easier problem of full body rejuvenation. More generally, to realize the goal of personally experiencing many sorts of science fiction fantasies such as interstellar travel and first contact with alien species your best bet is to support an acceleration of rejuvenation research. Given hundreds of years of youthful lives lots of things become possible in reality that we can now experience only in fantasy.

Check out Wikipedia's web page on teleportation for more on Davis's study and teleportation in general.

By Randall Parker    2005 September 02 12:16 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (9)
2004 October 03 Sunday
Cameras On Cars Read Road Signs And Detect Obstacles

An Australian team has mounted video cameras on cars and fed the video signal into software that can decode signs to detect when a car is driving too fast or failing to respond to a stop sign.

The software scans the video pictures and detects road signs by recognising their symmetrical shapes: rectangles, diamonds, octagons or circles. Once a sign is detected, the image is compared to a list of signs stored in the computer’s memory. If it recognises a stop sign, the computer checks if the car is slowing down.

The computer uses a commercial package called FaceLab to analyse images from the stereoscopic cameras and work out where the driver is looking. If the driver appears not to have seen a sign, and the car’s speed does not change, an alert is issued, says Nick Barnes, one of the developers at NICTA.

Most such warnings wouldn't be popular with speeders. But an adjustment could be added that lets you specify how far above the speed limit you want to go before being notified. Plus, an "Off" switch would be really helpful - especially in an emergency if you are in a mad dash to take someone to a hospital emergency ward.

Radar-based adaptive cruise control with automated speed adjustment to avoid collision first debuted on passenger cars in 1998 in an S-class Mercedes. or possibly first in a Toyota in 1997 for Japan's domestic market. More recently some Spanish researchers have demonstrated optically-based adaptive obstacle avoidance.

A camera-based cruise control system that automatically slows a car down to avoid potential accidents has been developed by Spanish researchers.

The prototype system - which uses a single dashboard camera to monitor traffic ahead - has been installed and tested by Miguel Ángel Sotelo and colleagues at the University of Alcalá, Spain.

An optical system has the advantage that it could be combined with the first reported system above to read road signs and do other image processing to detect dangers that a radar-based system might not be able to manage to pick up (e.g. a deer running out of the cover of woods close to the road). But image processing is probably algorithmically more difficult and probably also requires greater computer processing power.

A cruise control that could read existing signs could detect when the speed limit changed and automatically adjusted the car speed up or down to the new limit. Further into the future electronic bar codes that are either optical or electro-magnetic could be embedded into roadways to be read automatically by passing cars.

But the problem with all these computer computer-assisted driving gadgets is that they do not yet eliminate the need for drivers to pay attention. What we really need are cars that can drive themselves. The big savings in time will come when drivers no longer have to pay attention. Sometimes active driving can be fun and even pleasantly distracting from the rest of life. But lots of hours spent behind the wheel are just wasted time that could be used to perform various tasks. Once high speed cellular modems are installed along most roadways one could, for example, go shopping on the internet or read internet news sites while being whisked home by a robotic car. Or one could carry on intellectually more demanding phone conversations for one's job without the distraction putting at risk the lives of everyone else on the road. Or one could do more sight-seeing

I see these smaller incremental improvements in road condition sensing, automatic cruise control adjustment, and the like as helpful steps that will allow the testing and maturing of various technological components that will gradually allow computers to take over more of the work of driving. The first real step toward total automation will probably occur on special lanes on highways. The more complex environment presented by city and residential neighborhood driving will likely remaini in the hands of humans for one or two decades longer.

By Randall Parker    2004 October 03 07:03 PM   Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
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