Beam me up, on the double!

March 3, 2006

It's teleportation - but not as Captain Kirk knew it. York University computer experts have demonstrated how Star Trek fiction is already becoming scientific fact.

In a classic episode of the TV series, screened 40 years ago, Kirk is shocked to find he has been cloned as he is beamed aboard the starship Enterprise .

York researchers working with scientists from Japan have managed to recreate the fictional event - but with beams of light rather than a human being.

They have succeeded not only in teleporting laser light from one location to another, but combining this with "telecloning" - producing remote copies of the light.

The advance is the first time "quantum cloning" has been combined with "quantum teleportation" in a single experimental step. The breakthrough makes the process of teleportation and cloning more efficient, something that in theory could significantly advance quantum computing.

Sam Braunstein, professor in quantum computing at York, said it was likely to be 100 years or more before scientists could experiment with beaming people around the planet.

He said: "In the far future, who knows? Maybe instead of ordering something over the web, we will be able to have it teleported to us."

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