Even though the routine teleportation of humans and objects from one point in space to another is, at this point, entirely fictional, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t hiding things from you. Because, let’s face it, they are. I know most people are too chickenshit to take on Big Teleport, but I’m not, so get ready for some real talk about teleportation.
Just so we’re all working from the same frame of reference, let’s use the most well-known fictional teleporting example, the “transporters” of the Star Trek universe. These machines appear to be incredibly commonplace, and are used for pretty much everything.
If this were to actually be the case, there would be some less pleasant details of transporting that would likely be inevitable. It’s not really surprising that none of the Star Trek shows have addressed these issues, so let’s take care of that right now, because you have a right to know, dammit:
1. Safety Equipment
First, let me make it clear that I am not satisfied with the level of safety equipment shown in transporter operations. Think about it: people get beamed down from orbit to a location on a planet with no scouting of the location whatsoever. Why don’t more away missions end immediately because someone transported right into the same place as a flying alien insect, leaving some space-wasp in their throat? Or transported onto some bit of alien vegetation jammed into their genitals? There’s just too much potential for disaster, too much uncontrolled chaos.
So, what should be going on, if there was a decent version of OSHA operating in this fictional future, is a multi-step process:
1. A large, impermeable box is teleported to the location. This is the Transport Chamber. It is teleported, unoccupied, to the location to confirm the safety of the transport destination site. Cameras inside and outside the chamber confirm the safety, inside and out, making sure there’s no local insects or twigs waiting to perforate some tender part of you.
2. For optimal safety, all of the contents inside the chamber are teleported out into space, and the remaining void is filled with the soon-to-be-transported subject’s preferred atmosphere.
3. The subject to be transported is transported inside the confirmed-empty chamber. They then may exit the Transport Chamber via a door at their leisure, ideally before they breathe all of the limited air inside the sealed chamber.
4. The Transport Chamber is transported back to the vessel of transport station to be hosed out and prepped for the next use.
This seems like the minimum necessary steps needed to guarantee safe tranport to any unknown location.
Now, our managing editor, Erin Marquis, is a self-admitted Trekkie and told me this:
“The transporters have something called Heisenberg compensators to remove uncertainty from the subatomic measurements. So when someone is transported they wouldn’t be able to transport with a bug in their throat, etc, as even at a subatomic level they object/person being transported is the same coming as going.”
I’m not buying that. This is a different problem than any Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle quantum-level stuff: this is just knowing what’s in the place you’re going to appear in. And while I’m willing to accept people being broken down into a stream of particles and sent via beam to some remote location, I’m not willing to accept them knowing exactly what every little thing is on the remote spot they’re headed. When I transport, I’m going to demand use of a transport chamber.
2. Waste Management
If you can transport people thousands of miles, and effectively differentiate all the many chemicals and compounds and elements and materials that make up the subject, you can surely isolate waste products like urine and feces. Why would you want to transport a full bladder or a set of well-packed bowels across the void? You wouldn’t.
That’s why transporter pads should all have drains, because anyone being transported should have the option of leaving behind the contents of their bladder and bowels, which would then drop, disgustingly, a couple of feet to the transporter pad below.
Ideally, an automated cleaning system would hose the wastes down the drain, and then perhaps spray some fragrant mists to cover the stench.
If you think about it, you could probably isolate out the small plugs of oil and sebum that clog pores, and give yourself a deep-pore facial treatment with every transport. You’d transport away, leaving behind a ghostly, diffuse shape of you made of discarded pore-cloggers, which would then also drop to the ground, to be sprayed down a drain.
I suppose they could just transport the wastes directly to some reclamation facility, too, now that I think about it. I guess I just like the visual of a floating mass of shit falling and spattering on an immaculate gleaming transporter room floor, because I’m disgusting.
The more you think about this, the more disgusting you realize transporter rooms must be.
3. Transporter Dieting and Occasional Gluttony-Enabling
I’m sure this is a thing, even if they never did a Star Trek episode about it. But here’s what I’m sure is happening: people eat as much as they want, to the point of gluttony, even, and instead of dealing with all those unwanted calories, they just have the semi-digested food transpororted right out of their stomachs.
Way better than making oneself vomit, and while it’s still about as unhealthy as the usual methods of expelling food after overeating, Roman banquet-style, there is a potential for an upside: something known as Mutually-Beneficial Transporter Post-Meal Food Sharing (MBTPMFS).
In MBTPMFS, some portion of the semi-digested food from the eater’s stomach is transported directly into the stomach of a hungry child. I know the company line is that whatever vague bullshit economic system they use in the future has all but eliminated hunger, but I’m sure some kids fall through the cracks and could use some help.
Alternately, you could probably work a deal with someone in transporter range who’s just too busy to take time to eat on their own. I’m sure there’s some way; I hate seeing semi-digested food go to waste.
I know these weren’t pretty things to hear, but it’s important you get the whole truth about one of the most popular fictitious transportation systems.