Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Scientists Discover How to Turn Light Into Matter

From the Environmental News Service via AlterNet:

Physicists at the Imperial College London have thought up a way to convert light directly into matter in a new type of high-energy physics experiment, using technology already available in the UK.

“As we are theorists, we are now talking to others who can use our ideas to undertake this landmark experiment,” said Professor Steve Rose at the Department of Physics, Imperial College London.

More here.

Something uplifting for a change.

Apparently, scientists haven't actually done the deed, but feel like they've got a very sound approach to making it happen, and will be doing so in the near future.  But don't get too excited, at least, not just yet.  The matter they're creating isn't ham sandwiches or gold bullion; it's just some particles.  But do get excited.  This is pretty major, I think, and opens up the door to all kinds of groovy cool science fiction stuff, and making ham sandwiches or gold out of energy is chump change.  I mean, okay, creating sandwiches and gold is significant in itself, but I'm talking matter transportation, at the speed of light, potentially across vast distances.

It's probably worth mentioning that matter transportation, conceptually speaking, isn't really transportation so much as it's converting matter into digital code, which presumably destroys the original matter, and then beaming said code as energy through space to whatever its destination is, where it then uses the code and energy in said beam to create a perfect copy of the original, which no longer exists because it was destroyed during the encoding process.

Actually, I suppose you don't have to destroy the original, but then it would simply be a replication process, and if we started doing that with human beings, it would get pretty weird pretty fast.  On the other hand, any human being transported in such a way is effectively dead, and the person on the other end of the matter transport process is, in fact, a completely different person, albeit exactly like the original in all respects.

You know, Dr. McCoy was always right to bitch about the transporter on Star Trek.  It's a pretty creepy idea.  Creepy but cool.