Teleportation is the duplication or re-creation of physical objects or their properties using light beams, according to researchers at the California Institute of Technology. Also calling it quantum teleportation, the researchers have successfully transmitted information about the properties of an object at the speed of light so that the object could theoretically be duplicated or reconstructed at the destination. The experiment takes advantage of the atomic particle property in which two particles at a great distance are in some mysterious way intertwined. Thus, an effect on one particle is almost simultaneously felt in the other particle as well. In physics, this characteristic is called entanglement. The CalTech researchers believe the characteristic may one day have practical applications, one of which would be a quantum computer in which information is moved with light using the entanglement principle rather than wires.

In their experiment, the researchers created two entangled light beams. (A light beam is a stream of photons, and photons, which have both wave and particle characteristics, are the basic units of light.) The entangled light beams carried information about the quantum state of a third light beam over the distance of a yard (about one meter) at the speed of light. The researchers believe the concept can be applied to transmitting the physical property attributes of solid objects at the speed of light. Is there any difference between a particular solid object and the collection of its attributes reproduced at a great distance at the speed of light? The researchers say no one knows for sure.

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This was last updated in April 2005

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The full definition poses the question if there is a difference between an original solid object and its recreation as a teleported item. The Ship of Theseus is a paradox that has been chewed on by philosophers since the time of ancient Greece. It asks if a wooden ship that has had each and every one of its parts replaced is still the same ship. An applicable (and perhaps more solvable) question for IT leaders is if information is the same when transported in this way?