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Where's My Teleportation?
Goku from "Dragon Ball Z" is a master at teleportation, or "instant transmission" as he calls it. © Diego Puerta/Demotix/Corbis

Traffic, fuel costs, speed limits -- isn't it about time we moved through space without, y'know, moving through space? Whether by shifting dimensions, bending space-time or transmitting our matter patterns via "Star Trek"-like transporters, instant relocation would provide the ultimate high-speed commuter service.

On "Dragon Ball Z," Goku called teleportation "instant transmission" -- an apt phrase, considering that instant communication of information would be one of the key advantages of teleportation. From a physics standpoint, we, too, are information, so what's good for the e-mail is good for the female (or the male); just beware those copy errors and packet drops.

So far, the closest we've come to instant transmission involves entanglement, a quirk of physics in which two quantum particles behave as one system. This property, which physicists somewhat confusingly dub quantum teleportation, means that information can transfer from one particle to the other regardless of distance. But even if we could apply this principle to the monumental volume and complexity of human matter -- and that's a big if -- and even if we could create computers powerful enough to process it, memory vast enough to store it and transmissions fat enough to send it, the laws of physics state that it could not break the light barrier [source: Barrow et al.]. So much for instant transmission.

Still, even such limited teleportation, if energy efficient, would offer huge advantages over conventional travel -- so long as the passengers didn't mind destroying their original selves. As we all know, rush-hour commutes can be murder.

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