What You May Not Know about Star Trek Transporters

What You May Not Know about Star Trek Transporters

Unless you want a long, in-depth explanation of the physics of transporters and how they operate, it’s best to gain a much simpler understanding of how they were made to be one of the least understood but most utilized modes of transport in the Star Trek shows and movies. What people don’t know about these things though is that there’s more to them than just transporting a person from place to place and if people really understood the whole process they might not think it’s that cool any longer given what can possibly happen to those that step onto the platform. Since Star Trek first came about a lot of people have noted that transporting from the ship to a planet’s surface is easier and doesn’t take as many steps. What some folks might not know is that it was also cost-effective for the show since it was cheaper to make up the effects for the transporter than it was to build the models and extra landscapes and then use practical effects. The earliest transporter effects were actually a product of clever filming and Alka Seltzer or glitter to create the effect of each crew member ‘beaming’ down.

The actual thought of having your body torn apart at the atomic level is kind of horrifying to some folks actually since there are a lot of theories as to what might actually be happening and few of them are any good. One of the ideas is that the person that’s beamed to the surface of a planet or to another ship isn’t actually that person, but a copy of them. This is because the initial person has been taken apart piece by atomic piece and their genetic imprint, which is stored in the memory banks of the transporter, can piece them back together again and essentially clone them in order to make it appear as though they’ve shifted through time and space to another area. I’m probably leaving out more than a few explanations that need to be fit in, but not being a Trekkie it’s easy to think that this wouldn’t be the way to go.

People have also mentioned that the transporters can clone people as it’s happened before during Star Trek: The Next Generation when Will Riker was cloned. There’s also the possibility of being stuck in the realm between as an amorphous mass of formless flesh as has happened as well. There are simply too many things that can go wrong with beaming a person from place to place, especially since it exists on the premise of tearing a body apart and then piecing it back together, which is terrifying for a lot of people to even think about. But this is why certain characters on the show abhorred beaming, such as Bones and a couple of other people. The risk didn’t always stand up to the reward of beaming across in one piece, but then again a lot of people did it and didn’t appear to worry too much. But the funny thing about this is that there’s been an accounting of how many people have had an accident due to the transporter, and the number is higher than a lot of Trekkies might want to admit if they know it.

Beaming is definitely something that is quicker, more efficient if it works, and looks a lot more impressive on TV and in movies than in simply hopping aboard a shuttle and making a trip from the ship to the planet in a hopefully uneventful manner. But then there’s the idea of what might happen to the particles of matter that are supposedly being beamed to another location. What happens if something gets in the way of the beam? A theory that the air would produce a loud popping sound as someone is beaming away, or a louder popping sound when they are beaming into an occupied space, argues that it would also displace whatever was in that space, such as dust, dirt, or anything else. Yet we’ve almost never seen a spill of dirt or a dust shower emerge in the transporter room once the process is completed. That would mean that two objects can occupy the same space at the same time according to this theory, which many would argue is not possible.

Again, I’m probably missing a lot here since I’m not a Trekkie, or a physicist, but the science fiction of the show and the process of transporting is something that definitely gives a lot of people pause since there is so much about it that hasn’t been fully explained outside of the books. The transporter is definitely a quick way to travel but it doesn’t appear to be the best way since there’s always the possibility of disaster happening. If you really want to get into it, find a Trekkie and open the discussion. Just make sure you’ve got the time.

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