The creator’s of Star Trek made that universe, so what happens if you apply those ideas to our world?
Things get interesting, real interesting.
So what do I mean by this?
To use our civilization as an analogue, whenever we come up with a new technology or application. We look for all of the ways we can use that technology or application.
Universities, corporations, and individuals research the technology or application in as many ways as they can think of. Most of the time this is done with a reward in mind, at times to make money, or notoriety(such as Master’s degrees, Doctoral degrees, or boasting rights). Most of the time the rewards are far greater than a degree or money in a bank. There are far more reaching benefits that are not obvious(at first glance).
Take petroleum(oil), it had humble beginnings nobody knew what to do with it. They would use animal fats for burning oil, lubrication, and a wide variety of other products. Of course this is very costly as well as not very efficient there is only so much fat you can get from an animal. Now they found petroleum had similar properties, so they went about trying to figure out what could they do with it. This took some time, but they found petroleum worked so well as a base in so many things(like plastics). Our entire civilization could not exist without it. That is before you even consider the fuel used in our cars.
To make it even better it doesn’t cost very much, and it is so plentiful we have no idea how much of it is in the world(since the earth is still making more oil). Sure some people have said it’s limited even went as far as saying they know when it’s running out. I always wondered how one could say such things, since you have to know how much there is of something to know when it’s running out.
So how does this apply to the world of Star Trek?
Remember I said analogue, or similar to something else(to use the definition).
Trek has something like this. It was originally created as a way to save money in the production of the original series. So they didn’t have to land that mother of a ship on a planet each episode. As well as working as a plot device between scenes.
You guy’s know it as the transporter.
The transporter moved people and things from one place to another. By breaking down a person or thing particle by particle, and then rebuilding those particles in a different location. It might sound simple, in the real world it’s impossible. Due to the number of physical laws it breaks, which is just about all of them.
But for the sake of this discussion lets say they figured it out.
Perhaps Q lent a hand.
I know, he would never admit to it.
What kind of impact would such a device have on a civilization. Just moving people and things back and forth would be a waste of such a device. Even making food, parts or holodecks would be just as much a waste of the technology. Of course what did they depict in the Star Trek shows.
Whatever the reasons they limited the transporter, they never even touched the impact that the technology of the transporter would have on a society. It would change everything, from small items, to large scale construction, medical applications, all sorts of new materials, and even the form of monetary exchange(money, you have to have it. Because we do not place the same value on everything) . Like I said it would change everything, quite similar to petroleum in our world.
I kept thinking if you can transport a human being, you could transport anything. We are very complex machines, so complex that it would take a nearly infinite amount of computing power to track everything inside our bodies(plus it’s all moving, yikes!) . It’s mind boggling to think about.
Like I said in the beginning, new technologies and processes would get researched. The transporter technology would be no different. A transporter is able to plot and disassemble matter, then reassemble matter in another location. Which means you can manipulate matter, into anything you want, anywhere you want.
This system needed an acronym(a pronounceable name made up of a series of initial letters or parts of words). It would be called-
MTAMS or Matter Transport And Manipulation System
I will use MTAMS in place of transporter from here on out.
Now you can’t make a system that can move people place to place from nothing. It has to come from somewhere even if the technology came from some information exchange with another race. Or it was dug up on some distant word, you still have to figure out how to use it. In the Star Trek world I think it came from the human race, with it’s origins in machining, 3 dimensional printing, and stereolithography. Along with other technology that would not be appear to be related to MTAMS, not unlike how so many things came about in our world.
How would it work?
In the Next Generation manual they talk about different resolutions and filters. Treating objects differently than people. There is problems with this take, a transporter would work on a level below the sub-atomic. Meaning it would alter individual atoms, which at that level there is no difference between people or objects. So a different resolution would not make much sense. The only things that would matter is what type of atom goes in what location. Relatively speaking anything above the atomic level would not be so difficult to process.
The MTAMS system would be altering individual atoms, changing matter from one form to another. That means adding or subtracting, protons, neutrons and electrons. One of the problems with such a concept, we really do not fully understand the world within an atom. There are matter particles(Leptons and Quarks), they have different family’s of particles. Besides matter particles there are force particles(Gluons, Photons, Intermediate Vector Bosons, and Gravitons) it can get quite involved, so again lets say they understand the world within the atom.
But everything has a price, what would be the price for the MTAMS system’s operation?
Energy, and a lot of it. The total output of our own sun(Sol) may not be enough.
But again lets say the system works, with less than that much or we can generate what is needed. For simplification I’m not going to into how just how much energy. Besides it’s already staggering to think about altering trillions of atoms at one time, much less how much energy the system would use.
That’s the technical background, how would such a system be used?
Take what Star Trek primarily used the transporter for. To move people and things around.
It has a range of 24,854.85 miles(according to Star Trek lore).
Engineers would not accept this limitation, they would be looking for ways to extend the range. For they would realize this system could act as a sort of e-mail. You could send people and things to the other side the of the planet. If you can do that then you can send people and things to other worlds. But you would need to make a system that could handle the bandwidth. That could be something above a yobibyte(1024 bytes). After all you couldn’t send just one thing/person at a time.
This would have an effect on space travel, it would take less time and effort to send someone via MTAMS than to take a starship. The energy costs might balance when considering what it would take to power a starship. But a starship cannot match the convenience factor. Not unlike today, where it makes more sense to take a plane to cross an ocean, instead of a ship. Were talking hours instead of weeks.
But we haven’t given up on ships, nor would the people in the Star Trek universe.
I’ll go into that in my next post.
As they say, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.