Do you live in one of the worst cities for commuters? If you do, you know the frustration of having to sit in traffic that's at a standstill for what feels like hours on end. In the worst of these cities, you might spend more than 70 hours every year in traffic delays. But what if you could skip the commute entirely? That's why we want to install a "Star Trek" transporter in the HowStuffWorks.com office. We just have to invent it first.
The transporter was the device that could dematerialize you, shoot you across vast distances and reassemble you at your destination. You didn't even need two of them -- a single transporter could plop you down from a starship to a planet below and scoop you back up again once your mission was over -- or when enough guys in red shirts had shuffled off the mortal coil. A popular term for the act of being transported is "beaming."
In "Star Trek" lore, the transporter originally only moved non biological cargo. Disassembling atoms of a non-living target and putting them back together on a ship isn't as scary as the thought of having all your own atoms ripped apart and squished back together. Some famous doctors in the "Star Trek" universe took great pains to avoid having to use the transporters, preferring shuttles to dematerialization. Still, it beats an hour-long commute through gridlocked traffic!