By Konrad Summers – Originally posted to Flickr as Star Trek – Enterprise D Transporter, CC BY-SA 2.0,

A common subject in science fiction as Star Trek fans know is teleportation. The science is until now mostly theoretical and is defined as the transfer of matter or energy from one point to another without  physically cutting across the space between them.  While many scientists believe it is possible to teleport in the sub-atomic particle world, macroscopic objects such as living beings, is not seen as possible, yet.    That is, quantum teleporting as we know it, is unlikely for living things, because the original is destroyed in the process of creating the copy.

Teleportation History

A photon has been transported for short distances previously in a few cases, in an operation that Albert Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.”  In 1998, physicists at Caltech teamed with two European groups, and  successfully teleported a photon across 3.28 feet of coaxial cable.  As predicted by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, the original photon no longer existed once the replica appeared.  In 2002, researchers at the Australian National University successfully teleported a laser beam using “quantum entanglement”, and in 2006, a team at Denmark’s Niels Bohr Institute teleported information stored in a laser beam at room temperature into a cloud of atoms about 1.6 feet away.

A Leap Forward in Teleportation

In what sounds like a major breakthrough Chinese scientists “have now teleported a photon from the Gobi desert to a satellite orbiting 310 miles above the earth.”   The teleportation of the photon was done by quantum entanglement, meaning basically no strings attached. The photon on earth and the one in the satellite called Micius or Mozi (named after an ancient Chinese philosopher who died in 391 B.C.), are identical though and have a deep, quantum, space-less connection.  However the photon in the desert lab behaved, its copy in the satellite, behaved in the exact same way.  The MIT Technology Review reports the experiment was run for a little over a month, and the Chinese scientists actually tried to teleport millions of photons and found success in 911 cases. The Micius satellite was more than just a convenient target for the teleportation.  It is actually a highly sensitive photon receiver that can detect the quantum states of single photons launched from the earth.