Larry Niven's Theory On Teleportation

Whitestar

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2004
Messages
360
I understand that author Larry Niven's science fiction is 'hard sci-fi", which happens to be my favorite. I was wondering if somebody could explain to me how Niven described his version on how a teleporter could work. Does he provide any details or are they sketchy at best?


Whitestar
 

Foxbat

None The Wiser
Supporter
Joined
Jul 24, 2003
Messages
7,967
Location
Scotland
I don't know about Larry Niven but there is a theory based on the Quantum Physics phenomenon of a photons always being in pairs (and could be light years apart).

I'm not too clued up on the idea but, basically, it's to do with the fact that any information carried by one is also carried by the other - therefore if a pair of photons are light years apart, they could carry the same info - giving the appearance of instantaneous transportation.

Hope that's clearer for you than it is for me.
On the other hand, perhaps I should just lay off the Burgundy for a while :D
 

BigBadBob141

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2013
Messages
843
Have never liked the idea of teleportation by breaking down object then reforming elsewhere such as used in Star Trek & Stargate.
However the sort used in the Larry Niven stories is different, when you activate a teleport booth all the space in the booth including you is exchanged with the space in the target booth.
This way no data stream, no transcription errors, no arriving inside out, travel is instant.
However you need a booth to travel, no beam me up Scotty!
 

gdoc

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2014
Messages
148
I too was unconvinced by this in Ringworld. Although he did a good job of understanding the effect on Earth of instantaneous travel I.e. The decline of differentiation between peoples who live on different continents.
 

Ray McCarthy

Sentient Marmite: The Truth may make you fret.
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
8,090
Location
The Mid West (of Ireland)
Does he provide any details or are they sketchy at best?
No. Which is why it "works" for me better than Star Trek. It seems to be Matter transposition, which is less silly than Star Trek where you'd never be able to store the data nor store & transmit the energy, nor reassemble without an receiving apparatus
 

Vince W

Towel Champion
Supporter
Joined
Sep 9, 2011
Messages
3,756
For me, Niven's use of stepping disks and the like seemed more like gates/wormholes that people moved through rather than disassembly/reassembly teleportation. Essentially a folding of space so two very distant points are suddenly very close. I could be wrong though.
 

Mirannan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2013
Messages
1,791
Niven's theory of teleportation seems to split into two streams, associated with the superficially similar but rather different "Known Space" and "Teleportation" universes. The Known Space version is undefined in terms of how it works; the other is explicitly defined as converting the teleportee into a "super-neutrino" of highly complex structure that moves at lightspeed. (This is rubbed in in one story where the destination TP is on board a ship several lightyears away.)
 

Lew Rockwell Fan

Have tasp, will travel.
Joined
Apr 5, 2016
Messages
435
Location
Sol 3, most of the time
. . . there is a theory based on the Quantum Physics phenomenon of a photons always being in pairs (and could be light years apart).
I don't think so. Entanglement has to do with the relationship between the qualities of 2 photons that WERE produced in specific processes that DO produce pairs. AFAIK, there is no requirement for photons to BE produced only in pairs.

For me, Niven's use of stepping disks and the like seemed more like gates/wormholes that people moved through rather than disassembly/reassembly teleportation. Essentially a folding of space so two very distant points are suddenly very close. I could be wrong though.
That sounds right to me. To his credit, he dealt with the fact that it wouldn't just be position that would be changing but also velocity and that the change in velocity would still reqire an input of energy, which would then become heat, which set limits on the device. At least if you didn't want to arrive toasted.

Niven's theory of teleportation seems to split into two streams, associated with the superficially similar but rather different "Known Space" and "Teleportation" universes. The Known Space version is undefined in terms of how it works; the other is explicitly defined as converting the teleportee into a "super-neutrino" of highly complex structure that moves at lightspeed. (This is rubbed in in one story where the destination TP is on board a ship several lightyears away.)
Somehow I've missed that. Would you mind pointing me to a listing of stories and which universe they belong in? Or at least some examples of each U? I'm 'fraid I might get lost.
 

Mirannan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2013
Messages
1,791
I don't think so. Entanglement has to do with the relationship between the qualities of 2 photons that WERE produced in specific processes that DO produce pairs. AFAIK, there is no requirement for photons to BE produced only in pairs.

That sounds right to me. To his credit, he dealt with the fact that it wouldn't just be position that would be changing but also velocity and that the change in velocity would still reqire an input of energy, which would then become heat, which set limits on the device. At least if you didn't want to arrive toasted.

Somehow I've missed that. Would you mind pointing me to a listing of stories and which universe they belong in? Or at least some examples of each U? I'm 'fraid I might get lost.
Yup. Complete (reasonably!) bibliography, complete with classification by which of Niven's universes they are in:

Larry Niven Bibliography
 

Ray McCarthy

Sentient Marmite: The Truth may make you fret.
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
8,090
Location
The Mid West (of Ireland)
I don't think so. Entanglement has to do with the relationship between the qualities of 2 photons that WERE produced in specific processes that DO produce pairs. AFAIK, there is no requirement for photons to BE produced only in pairs.
Yes.
Also it's really only useful for encrypted / secure systems, to establish if there has been tampering. You can't send items or information faster than light with it. Changing the state of one of the entangled protons changes the other instantly at ANY distance. The snag? It's like the remote end has a shuffled random pack of cards. The state change is like changing the shuffle. Since you don't know what the card order was before, when you examine it afterwards, no FTL information was exchanged.

Quantum entanglement and Quantum transportation isn't what most people think it is.
 

J Riff

The Ants are my friends..
Joined
Apr 11, 2010
Messages
4,918
Location
Sleeping in Lab
Probably none of those ways would work, I mean.. go ahead and fold space if you can get a grip on it, like a tablecloth. *
It's going to take an absurd amount of energy, however it's done.
 

Lew Rockwell Fan

Have tasp, will travel.
Joined
Apr 5, 2016
Messages
435
Location
Sol 3, most of the time
Changing the state of one of the entangled protons changes the other instantly at ANY distance.
If you consider observing the first in a way that collapses the quantum uncertainty of both to be "changing" them. It isn't as if you can cause the uncertainty to collapse in a particular direction. A subtle nomenclatural distinction perhaps, or perhaps an invalid one, and like much of QM, a hard thing to get a grip on. I believe it was Bohr who said something like "If you think you understand QM, you obviously don't". I do/don't. If you observe carefully, you'll probably find I don't.

. . . go ahead and fold space if you can get a grip on it, like a tablecloth. *
It's going to take an absurd amount of energy, however it's done.
Not knowing either the "if" or the "how" you can't possibly know that.
 

J Riff

The Ants are my friends..
Joined
Apr 11, 2010
Messages
4,918
Location
Sleeping in Lab
Oh, you disbelieve in the law of conservation of energy? I'd like to, but no scientist will talk to me. )
Across the galaxy is going to cost more than busfare, that's my theory.
 

Lew Rockwell Fan

Have tasp, will travel.
Joined
Apr 5, 2016
Messages
435
Location
Sol 3, most of the time
Oh, you disbelieve in the law of conservation of energy? I'd like to, but no scientist will talk to me. )
Across the galaxy is going to cost more than busfare, that's my theory.
Since the folding is purely hypothetical and has no clear path to engineering details; and doubly since the from and to locations weren't specified, there is no obvious applicability. When there is actually some proposed mechanism and some physical theory suggesting how space might be folded in a higher dimension, THEN you can do calculations of the energy required. Lacking something calculable, this is just talk. It is as meaningful as asking who the Red Queen's great grandmother was.
 

J Riff

The Ants are my friends..
Joined
Apr 11, 2010
Messages
4,918
Location
Sleeping in Lab
Oh gee do I ever not believe in 'folding space'. I think that SF writers are guilty of creating that one.
Same for wormholes, not sensible. To move from here to anywhur elst in the Galaxy, will take as much energy as flying there would. Probably.
No point in throwing physics away until something can replace it.
 

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
Supporter
Joined
Jun 29, 2010
Messages
7,754
Location
Scottish Highlands
If you consider observing the first in a way that collapses the quantum uncertainty of both to be "changing" them. It isn't as if you can cause the uncertainty to collapse in a particular direction. A subtle nomenclatural distinction perhaps, or perhaps an invalid one, and like much of QM, a hard thing to get a grip on. I believe it was Bohr who said something like "If you think you understand QM, you obviously don't". I do/don't. If you observe carefully, you'll probably find I don't.
Not sure if it's the same quote as the one you're thinking of but Feynman introduced his third volume of lectures with "‘I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics."
 

J Riff

The Ants are my friends..
Joined
Apr 11, 2010
Messages
4,918
Location
Sleeping in Lab
I like the idea of two identical clone bodies... and we send the consciousness only... somehow... to the clone body, somewhere else. Because, the mind, or consciousness.. is virtually immaterial and weightless, innit? That way, the shipping charges are almost nil.
Gee, I should maybe try writing SF someday...
 

Lew Rockwell Fan

Have tasp, will travel.
Joined
Apr 5, 2016
Messages
435
Location
Sol 3, most of the time
Oh gee do I ever not believe in 'folding space'.
I'd bet against it being possible myself, but that is beside the point. This is the post that first used the word "folding":
For me, Niven's use of stepping disks and the like seemed more like gates/wormholes that people moved through rather than disassembly/reassembly teleportation. Essentially a folding of space so two very distant points are suddenly very close. I could be wrong though.
This doesn't imply galactic distances to anyone familiar with the work in question. I've already pointed out that the energy requirement of changing velocity is acknowledged. Indeed it is part of what makes one of the plots work. AFAIK there is no minimum amount of energy required, for example, to move an object 10 km across a horizontal plain between 2 points with the same elevation in a vacuum. Energy is required to begin movement and to stop it, but the amount can be arbitrarily small. In practice, it may also be required to overcome friction, but there is no theoretical minimum here either. By definition we are talking about a process that involves unknown physics (unless you have a stepping disk in your basement). Unless you can advance a plausible calculation of the amount of energy required for some definite essential physical process, claiming some technology which doesn't, AFAIK, exist, and may never exist, requires immense amounts of energy is just talking through your hat.

I think that SF writers are guilty of creating that one.
That is in the job description.

Same for wormholes, not sensible.
The concept has been taken seriously by physicists since the early 20s. There is a wealth of professional lit on this.
 
Top