Denny Lee

In the context of quantum entanglement and teleportation – Stargate may be more correct than Star Trek

While waiting in line at Salumi, I was watching Nova’s Fabric of the Cosmos: Quantum Leap

Sidebar: Salumi is an amazing Italian restaurant with at times lengthy waits.

In the process, I just realized that with the concept of teleportation – Stargate is more correct than Star Trek!

Please note, I am at best a novice quantum physicist. I just read many quantum physics books and watch PBS and Discovery when I’m not watching SciFi.

The Fabric of the Cosmos: Quantum Leap

The Fabric of the Cosmos: Quantum Leap

To learn more about the fundamentals of quantum entanglement, watch The Fabric of the Cosmos: Quantum Leap by author and physicist Brian Greene.  But the basic idea is that quantum physics has an observer effect problem. That is, the location of a particle such as an electron is not a certainty – but a probability.  The great physicists Neils Bohr and Albert Einstein were often at odds. Einstein believed that classical physics (or relativity) could define with absolute certainty the location of an electron.  Meanwhile, Bohr theorized through the mathematics of quantum physics that it is only when we observe the particle do we identify its location. 

This is important because of “quantum spookiness” or “quantum spooky action at a distance.”  Observing or changing one particle will affect the other when particles are entangled. How these entangled particles communicate is currently unknown. This excerpt from NPR’s The Spookiness of Quantum Mechanics between Ira Flatow and Tom Siegfried (Editor in Chief, Science News) best explains it.

FLATOW: Yeah. And simply stated, it’s have – if you entangle two particles, what do they do?

Mr. SIEGFRIED: Well, it’s as though two particles separated from birth somehow know what to do when something happens to the other one. The confusing thing is if these particles fly off, say with – and you’re going to measure how they’re spinning, they don’t have a definite answer to that question until you measure it. So even though they don’t start out with any property, when one of them gets the property by a measurement, the other one suddenly has it as well, no matter how far apart they are. And that is, I think, spooky.

Back in 2007, scientists could transmit entangled photos 144 kilometers between La Palma and Tenerife. To dive deeper, check out Quantum Spookiness Spans the Canary Islands,

Stars from TSO Photography's The Mountain
TSO Photography’s The Mountain has a great video of the Milky Way Galaxy. Location: El Tiede (Tenerife) on the Canary Islands.

Why is quantum entanglement important within the context of teleportation?

Following Tangled Up in Teleportation, it is theoretically possible to use quantum entanglement for teleportation.

Simulation of teleportation from Tangled Up in Teleportation
Simulation of teleportation from Tangled Up in Teleportation

For example, let’s start with two scanning pads in the two locations. In the Fabric of the Cosmos, Brian Greene has scanning pads in New York and Paris. In this scenario, the particles in New York and Paris are entangled. Stepping into the New York pad, it would scan the transportee’s entire quantum state of the particles. The information (i.e., the quantum state of the particles) is then compared, observed, and modified between the two cities. The result is that that the entangled particles in Paris becomes the person standing in the New York pad (i.e., not a replica). The act of observing and changing the particles would produce Brian Greene himself now in Paris. The particles in New York would disintegrate in the process.

This is also important because “What am I” is not the atoms and particles that make us – it is the information or data (quantum state) that define what we are.

Teleportation in Stargate SG-1 and Star Trek

It’s an interesting theory, with some mind-blowing concepts of what we are and how teleportation could work.  Focusing on the teleportation aspect, why is Stargate more correct than Star Trek?

  • The concept of teleportation and quantum entanglement requires two sets of entangled particles – one in the source and one in the target location.
  • Teleportation will require the scan and storage of the quantum state of the entangled particles and the person or object in BOTH the source and target locations.

So, if you’re an avid Star Trek fan (and I am) – you know there is a problem here.  Star Trek transporters can transport users from the ship to a planet’s surface where the latter has no scanning pad.

Quantum entanglement allows the stargate to act as a teleportation device?

Meanwhile, in Stargate – the method of transportation is to go through two portals – analogous to two scanning pads.  The stargates could act as scanners allowing one to control and contain entangled particles.  Upon activation, a massive amount of information (i.e., the quantum state of the objects) is then transmitted between gates.

But how would you transmit the information (i.e., the quantum state)?  Could the information itself be transmitted through another set of entangled particles?  Or do the stargates create a stable wormhole (this happens in-show) between the two gates? Therefore, the quantum state (i.e., the information making up the people and objects themselves) could be transmitted faster than light?

Debating myself

File:TNG 6-4 Relics.jpg
Scotty untangled from his quantum state in the transporter from Star Trek: TNG – Relics (image source)

Interestingly, while writing this post, I realized how it might be possible for Star Trek transporters to use entanglement. If the transporter is a quantum vessel ala Star Trek: TNG – Relics, scanning the target location from a distance is possible.  By using a different set of entangled particles, it would be possible to transmit the information of the transportees from the transporter pad on the ship to the planet’s surface.  But the problem is creating a stable quantum container or vessel to hold the particles from a distance.  After all in Relics, the quantum vessel that Scotty was stuck in was the transporter buffers themselves.

Yes, I have too much time on my hands.

The only safe conclusion we can make is that I have way too much time on my hands. I thought about all of this over the weekend AND bothered to post it, AND I bothered to debate myself on my speculations.

I think the only safe conclusions from this post outside of the fact I need a hobby are:

  • Quantum physics is awesome – so read up on it, eh?!
  • Scotty is right – as per the rebooted JJ Abrams Star Trek – you can beam an object over vast distances provided you can find the shared set of entangled particles.

Outside of that – please debate and critique away!


While writing this post, I realized that it may be possible to time travel using this quantum entanglement.  Per The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time), nothing prevents entangled particles from being from different times. More random thoughts on this topic in Stargate may be more correct than Star Trek.

2 responses to “In the context of quantum entanglement and teleportation – Stargate may be more correct than Star Trek”

  1. […] a follow up to In the context of quantum entanglement and teleportation – Stargate may be more correct than Star …, I’m diving into one of SciFi’s persistent quandaries – time travel.  And before anyone gets […]

  2. […] to another almost instantaneously through the stable wormholes between two gates.  As noted in my previous post, teleportation between two gates could theoretically be achieved via quantum entanglement.  The […]

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