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Going dark

Just a reminder that I'm one of the guests of honour at Kontakt, the 2012 Eurocon (European SF Convention) next weekend in Zagreb, Croatia. I'll therefore be disappearing on Wednesday, and not coming home until late on the evening of Monday 30th.

(For those of you who care, this is also why I won't be at the Arthur C. Clarke award ceremony in London on Wednesday 2nd; London is an international flight away from where I live, or an unpleasant five hour train journey, or an even less pleasant nine hour drive, and I'm simply not geared up for routine back-to-back trips like that.)

We need teleportation booths. Of course, if we had them we'd then get to find out exactly what the security-industrial complex could do to really make a misery of international travel ...

Actually, there's a thought-experiment there.

Let's postulate a new technology. To the end user it consists of a transmitter and a receiver that you can step into and out of like an elevator car, it can transport you from A to B at the speed of light, without physically intersecting with anything in-between. It's a switched network, like the old-fashioned phone system, i.e. any transmitter can talk to any other receiver (if the receiver is willing—"unfriendly" transmitters can be blocked). The transmitter/receiver units are not cheap—let's make them comparable to a Boeing 737 or an Airbus 320, around the US $30-40M mark—so you don't typically find them in private dwellings and there is an incentive for the owners to charge for access and to manage traffic flow through them.

Limits: maximum size of a gate is about 27 cubic metres (3 x 3 x 3) so forget moving tanks or APCs through them in order to invade your neighbour. Oh, and conservation of energy applies: if you want to move around the earth you have to pump in enough juice to equal the change in kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy of the cargo (remember, the earth is a spinning sphere: standing still at the equator you're moving at 1000 nautical miles/hour, while at the poles you're stationary). And I'm going to disallow the movement of radioisotopes through the gates by declaring that it just Doesn't Work™. (No nuclear terrorism here.)

You can ship the components of such a gate through another pair of gates, but there's a minimum size of, say, sixteen cubic metres of machinery weighing around 10 tonnes. No maximum range is known, and you can't conveniently use them for refuelling rockets in flight, so no, it's not going to magically open up the solar system.

What are the immediate consequences? (Beyond "international travel gets faster".)

And what are the security consequences?

414 Comments

1:

Tube trains:

http://lh3.google.ca/abramsv/R5f81O9Hg7I/AAAAAAAAEzo/6uW6sONQl80/s1600-h/1580598302_a1e48902db_o.jpg

Scotland to Croatia in 20 minutes, no matter what the weather might be.

2:

@Alain: the Swiss came quite near to actually building something similar, branded as Swissmetro
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swissmetro
The EPFL in Lausanne did quite some work on it and I've seen elderly professors disappointed when the project was canceled.

Probably venturing into "Awesome but impracticable" realm there, though if you asked me, I'd label it way better than Giant-leap-of-logic-induced wars followed by faith-based society building, which actually gets funded.

3:

You can start with "All the Colors of Darkness" by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. for a great read that covers one aspect of such a device.

10 tons and 16m^3 isn't too difficult to smuggle into a country (assuming it's not radioactive or otherwise easily detectable from a distance.) That changes warfare completely.

Addressing a unit is an interesting question. What makes unit 1 teleport to unit 2 rather than unit 3? If it's encryption, then it can be broken and that affects warfare also: launch a bunch of units into orbit containing subcritical amounts of plutonium, then teleport a from a pair that have opposing velocities into a unit in your enemy's country.

4:

Immediate? I'd say lots of regulation and paranoia. Maybe it could be used as an excuse to further weaken civil liberties in the name of the war on terror since these might be used to smuggle stuff across borders / used as a means of payload delivery. It might also lead to a flourishing/strengthening of black market trade...?

How about mining? What are the power requirements and is there a cycle rate? You could use it to shift ore.

How is the connection between the transmitter and receiver established? Imagine people hacking these and diverting people for lulz... actually, it might be used for kidnapping.

5:

There is, of course, the option of Edinburgh > Zagreb > London > Edinburgh.

And there is the perpetual motion, extract your energy here, portal positioning of one gate above the other - you didn't say anything about energy usage....... or momentum, and were suspiciously silent on causality.

6:

Holographic gigs seem to be the way, looking at the Tupac thing; that might be an interesting way to virtually give talks at conferences, although considerably less fun for you :)

7:

Not feasible. Flights to Zagreb were booked two months ago and are cheap (i.e. non-flexible). The cost of flights to/from anywhere shoot up about 4 weeks ahead of time; right now, flights from EDI/LCY cost about three-quarters as much as flights from here to JFK.

8:

launch a bunch ... in your enemy's country

I presume that "you can't conveniently use them for refuelling rockets in flight" means that you can't teleport between 2 booths that are in motion relative to each other.

9:

Are the transmitters and receivers paired up, or can any transmitter target any receiver?

Makes a big difference to the economics.

10:

Being a spoilsport, I have amended the thought experiment to impose some limits.

11:

It magically opens up the solar system.
As soon as one gate is installed on the moon thousands of tonnes of material can be shipped in both directions for zero cost every day.

12:

Conservation of momentum applies (see above). Sure you don't need rocket fuel, but you're going from earth surface potential energy to lunar surface potential energy -- the electricity bill will be non-trivial.

13:

I wouldn't put it past Homeland Security to hold your incoming backside in a buffer until they've googled you. If you're particularly unwelcome, there might be an 'unfortunate powder cut while in transmission"...

14:

Well, conservation of energy and momentum are different things and you need to account for both.

Energy conservation will give you an electricity bill, which might not actually be so bad if you are just moving from point A to B on the earths surface. Following lines of latitude would be pretty cheap anyway.

Momentum conservation implies a big heavy booth with shock absorbers and a substantial ground anchor. The greater the mass the less energy goes into recoil and the more efficient your person launcher.

One thing I remember reading in an old Stephen King short story was a mention of a murderer using a matter transmitter to dispose of his wife. He just failed to set a destination, fed her in and used the defense that nobody could prove she was actually dead.

15:

It also has the interesting side effect of making a UK - South Africa jump rather cheaper than a UK - North America (or Moscow, Russia) one, and I suspect possibly cheaper than Kenya - South Africa.

16:

"power cut", even. Damn' ham fingers...

17:

Not zero cost. There's energy and momentum transfer to deal with. That's about 1km/s orbital speed compared to about 0.3 km/s at the Tellurian equator. But two equatorial sites on Tellus could have almost as much momentum difference as a trip to the Lunar surface. It's actually not that big a deal.

I'm not sure that Charlie's prohibition of "refuelling rockets in flight" rules out a Moonbase. I expect Frames of Reference come into it but we could do a handwave based on a limit to the change in gravitational potential energy.


18:

Er, here at Lat57.5N my angular momentum is only about half what it would be on the Equator.

19:

I think I'd also give it a wipe-clean interior and have it programmed so that it could optionally leave a percentage of fat cells behind when transporting.

20:

If gates are manufactured in linked pairs with no way to "dial in" (let's hand-wave some heavy quantum entanglement or similar, since you're hand-waving 'no radioisotopes' - side thought, what happens to the isotopes in the human body and clothes etc?) then I suspect the security implications are low. Although I equally predict a massive upsurge in terrorists persuading theoretical physicists and the like to work on HOW to crack the coding. It's quite a big thing to build and smuggle into a country you wish to target after all.

If they're more dial up - 9/11 becomes a thing of the past. You're postulating essentially similar set-up and not-that-dissilmilar running costs to an airline. You might find people put their terminals closer to town than a typical airport - less noise for example - but you've got a terribly easy system for hopping between countries. The full force of immigration and the like will be there. 27m3 is roughly an infantry squad with full kit, so I imagine the building will be a rather in-facing fortress with several squads/automatic gun turrets and the like to hand to mow down keen attackers.

Economic terrorism might be fun though. What happens if the Americans decide they don't like having their debt owned by China, prints a LOT of Chinese currency and transmits a few pallets of (technically forged) 27m3 lots of mid-denomination bank notes into the country and distributes them freely. BOTE calculation makes that 29 million notes per pallet... say $50 per note... that's ~$1.5 billion per pallet in fake currency. Ouch.

Drug smuggling becomes very interesting too. How much can a drug cartel put together for a gate I wonder?

21:

General comment - There's a nice passage in one of EE Smith's Lensman novels (I think either Galactic Patrol or Grey Lensman but could be Second Stage Lensman) where he describes a mechanical dampening rig used to "inert" packages and personnel who'd spent short periods "free" having left from the location of the dampening rig.

22:

I'm amazed no-one's mentioned Larry Niven's 1973 novella Flash Crowd yet: it features devices pretty much identical to what you're describing (teleportation booths as phone booths) and is basically an entertaining thought experiment into the security and social implications.

(Side note: I'm fairly sure that novella's not meant to be online in its entirety, but since it is, I figure I'll link to it. I'm not sure if that's the right thing to do, though!)

23:

We all remember the Larry Niven series of short stories about matter transmitters ...

The security theatre around these devices becomes so absurd that they're not used for short hops. The TSA soak up so much of the travellers time that merely continental distances are covered 'conventionally'.

International freight becomes trivially cheap for continuous, bulk transport. The cost to the end-user becomes exorbitant: "It's the transporters, you know." International carriers become even richer than they are now.

Any screening can *only* be done at the 'transmit' end - the receiver just accepts the call. Well-intentioned attempts to place transporters in densely-populated areas all come to naught after the second or third suicide bomber detonates themselves.

24:

Some thoughts:

1) Almost all commercial (non-cargo) air travel is dead and gone -- I can't even start to think through the second order implications of this one.

2) How difficult is it to control the production of the terminal units? Are we talking as hard as assembling a modern passenger jet (non-trivial, but possible for a decent team of engineers and techs), or as difficult as getting together the components of a nuclear weapon? If it's also relatively easy to smuggle the components of a gate by traditional transportation, national security becomes an almost impossible nightmare. Again, second order consequences multiply faster than I can think through.

3) There will almost certainly be more people interested in how such a transport technology can be used to commit acts of war/terrorism/violence, than any benign application. They will think of stuff that most of us here can't, and probably don't want to, think of.

25:

You could certainly use it to run a moon base.

Note that your moon base is going to be pretty unattractive: it needs to be radiation hardened, airtight, thermally buffered, and so on.

And the combination of energy costs and hazardous environment overheads mean it's probably uneconomical to mine anything there that isn't incredibly valuable.

Mind you (James Nicoll will hate me) it might make Lunar He3 a viable energy source, if we can actually get to a working second-generation fusion cycle reactor.

26:

Curse you, Tom Scott! Beat me by *that* much...

27:

The Theory and Practice of Teleportation?

At those costs I think the system would resemble airline hubs, and the security consequences would be very similar - without the hijacking hazard. So we move people and cargo around the world just like we would with airlines, but the travel time is zero + waiting around. Of course most of the airline travel time isn't actually spent on planes, so it doesn't make that much difference.

Pipelines, sea cargo, airlines all go out of business, apart from transferring to locations without teleportation hubs.

But assuming you're paying the electricity cost for gravitational potential and kinetic energy, transporting material to and from orbit would be trivially cheap. I could pay my energy cost to orbit for less than a peak time ticket between London and Manchester.

And it's only marginally more difficult to transport material across interplanetary distances - assuming one is able to transport material between Earth's antipodes, the system can obviously handle different velocities.

So you can just site a gate on Eros and start shoveling raw asteroid material through the gate to your smelting plants on Earth, balancing the equation by shoveling equipment, consumables and ballast in the other direction. Mining near earth objects is suddenly easier than finding ore of similar quality on Earth.

I think it's very difficult to impose sensible constraints that would prevent that sort of thing, while allowing the magic teleportation booths to work at all.

28:

Some of the obvious problems, momentum and energy, have been dealt with—I think it was Larry Niven.

Since momentum is a vector, there is a change for both East-West movements and North-South. This could make trans-oceanic routes difficult. There would be too much change in the vector, but what is the limit?

Would the Greenland-Iceland-UK link between the USA and Europe be practical for passengers, or would traffic between Europe and the Americas be routed via the Bering Strait.

Imagine the paranoia about that, from any number of US-based TLAs

I could see there being special couriers, think of fighter pilots, trained to cope with the routes of high momentum-shock, carrying urgent and secret packages.


For a moment there I had a flash of steampunk, with the through of a control room at RAF Benbecula exchanging a set of signals with Keflavik, in much the same way as old-style block-section operation of British railways. You really don't want another cargo arriving while the previous one is being cleared, now do you.

And then there comes the signal for a rare human transfer. Keflavik is maybe being set so that the consignment is moving when the transfer triggers, and you re-set the Benbecula end to give the longest-possible absorbtion stroke.

"Doc" Smith mentioned the problems a time or two in the Lensman books: how only the slightest difference of intrinsics could be tolerated by a human, even with the best shock-absorber systems.

Hawaii would no longer be a tourist trap on the air route from Tokyo to Los Angeles.

29:

There's also Vinge's early short novel, "The Witling" where teleportation is magic but it still has to obey the laws of physics in terms of momentum, energy transfers etc. Warfare is just one of the applications of the teleportation capability.

30:

Didn't Harry Harrison write that? "One Step from Earth" Short story compilation published in 1970.

IIRC it didn't deal with relativistic problems: travel was instantaneous over any distance, nor did it deal with such things as conservation of momentum or conservation of energy.

If momentum was conserved, using a teleporter over long distance on a rotating planet could be quite tricky: to jump from one place on the equator directly to the opposite side of the world would be to invite a rather terminal interaction with the walls of the receiving teleport booth.

Also, for a jump from one side of the planet to the other, would you arrive locally upside down?

Without conservation of energy, it would be trivial to construct a perpetual motion machine using a pair of teleport booths. (paging M C Escher...) With it -- well, energy input for going uphill is easy enough -- you'ld have to supply enough power to the teleport booth to account for the change in gravitational potential. Jumping to orbit would take a chunk of power roughly equivalent to the output of a satelite launcher. Probably not something the average middle class family could afford for their holidays. Not forgetting that momentum conservation means you'ld need some way of modifying your velocity vector once you got up there lest your trajectory involve flying off at a tangent.

Going the other way, presumably in the normal entropic way of things, excess energy would just get turned into heat. Would you like your interplanetary teleport traveller rare, well done or vaporized?

31:

Still not a problem if cargo is being shipped in both directions. If it's just dust/rock being shipped from the moon then use the energy to generate electricity.

32:

Since everyone on this blog should long ago have read Larry Niven's Theory and Practice of Teleportation, I'm not sure what new insights you hope to get. (Which is the point, of course.) Yes, the usual security folks have a conniption; some will be quite irate to lose various technical excuses for making travel difficult.

Smuggling is obvious but not all that interesting - we have smuggling today, and it's not stoppable even without teleportation. It might become cheaper and thereby more common and less profitable. (Leading to smugglers campaigning against teleporters to keep amateurs out of the business? Hm.) Rather more interesting for an author might be the phreaking culture, hackers who play with the system for teh lulz. Anyone can travel, but it's cool to know things other people don't.

Some of this will be technical. If the booth-to-booth link is mediated over conventional communication channels, like telephone or internet links, we'll see service blockages, traffic analysis, blacklisting and whitelisting, and so on. And it will be easier for the hackers to do random things like send Mitt Romney to Zaire (after pwnning his booth from a Starbuck's in Tokyo, perhaps). If the addressing works some other way...the author would need to figure out the rules, for one thing. The matched pairs would be plausible enough but don't lead to an open travel network.

There's some comment on military logistics, and I see this working. Put a booth in a large cargo plane and fly it out to the trouble spot, then disembark as many troops and as much moderately-sized gear as your budget will allow. (Presumably you travel in short hops when moving from, say, Diego Garcia to Kabul. This would become routine. The exact route may be left as an exercise for your logistics expert or travel agent.) It's expensive to build the thing, but becomes practical once you start looking at the prices of a whole fleet of planes. After the booths have been out a while, the airplane industry will be rather smaller than today, but not gone - there are too many reasons to fly other than moving between two places.

Many specialty applications. For example, wintering in Antarctica becomes considerably less ghastly.

Some rich loony may start exploiting the conservation of momentum by popping things back and forth between different latitudes, with the avowed purpose of slowing the Earth's rotation. Will anyone take him seriously?

33:

Obviously such booths would replace most shipping and flight but ground based freight is likely to remain in a different form. The price of one of these booths is well within the reach of most cities and probably even most regions if a few towns club togehter. This makes mass transport more distributed but travel too and from is going to be prohibitive.

A big problem is that the speed at which you transport cargo in such a system is going to have the bottleneck of how fast you can load a 27m3 cargo in and out. If a city has several tens of boths that's most likely not enough to handle demand therefore loading and unloading will have to be sped up. An efficient system might be to have automated cars or trains that can drive quickly through such gates as though they were tunnels.

A more advanced system for foot passengers could be to have a travellator like device (with barriers to seperate different groups) which feeds people continually through with their destination determined from reading their biometrics/phone as they pass the gate.

Actually considering the bottleck of 3x3 transport it might be far more expensive to travel together rather than a group simply because it takes a similar time to load and unload one person as it would nine.

In terms of social change I can see labour outsourcing being far more common. It's concievable that for some companies it may be worthwhile to "distribute" their workplace. A mine in Africa could be connected to a factory in China which is connected to a distribution centre in the US or Europe. Such a set up might be expensive at first but long term could save a lot of money.

Lastly expect a few 1% to have their various penthouses, mansions and villas connected so that moving to one's summer home is as simple as moving from the kitchen to the dining room.

34:

Given this no isotopes-rule this could be used to de-radiate contaminated materials. Though you'd be left with a very hot tele-booth.

35:

Along a line of Latitude, or very close to it is going to be CHEAP, ditto the correposnding other (N/S) hemisphere line.
For Longitude changes, I suggest a regenerative buffer of some sort, MHD or other hydrodynamic/magnetic storage would help enormously.

36:

hmmmmmmm nice try, but the home gym in the spare bedroom and the healthy eating plan is still probably the better idea.
The human body contains fat cells just about everywhere, some involved in highly specialised functions, like the ones in our brains ...........
Personally i'd rather eat salads and work up a sweat on a bench each day than take chances like that.

---------------------------------------------------------
Charlie:

I am rather curious about how this system works.
Is it a GENUINE transmitter (like a high tech Pneumatic msg tube) so that EXACTLY what goes in one cab comes out the other.
Or are we dealing with system that scans cab contents buffers the data.
Destroys the original, then transmits the data for the 'original' object to be 'reconstituted' at its new location??

Please don't anyone suggest it does not matter.

All kinds of interesting ideas present themselves depending on which way the tech blows.

Anyone want sloppy 2nds on an evil Kirk script :)

37:

It does necessarily move a single copy of you or could be used to transmit to a couple of different destinations at the same time replicating you?
I mean, it's a gate wormhole kind of device or a matter disintegrator+re-assembler a la Star Trek, that you can use to perform many interesting tricks on the transported matter?

By the way, does it work as an elevator (you press a button and all the content of the device is transported) or does it work like a door (you open the gate, and everything moves form here to there while crossing the threshold)?
If the second, expect "trains" like the ones in the first post that use the gates to move as fast as possible large amount of people from place to place. Maybe even car-gates on high roads...

Can you build a scaled down device to transmit informations instead of actual matter? Is it possible to jam or intercept the transmission, be it a signal or actual matter?
For example, american armed forces are very interested in using gigantic particle accelerators to transmit signals using neutrinos for the possibility of communicating securely with submarines... http://www.physics.ucla.edu/~hauser/neutrino_communication_paper/siljah_mod.htm

Leaving out space applications, can you use it to transmit power directly? (Think global electricity distribution grid, with desert solar panels all around the world that pump energy all around the world).

Some mixed applications/consequences even if it's strictly elevator-like moving-things device:

Expect underground secret bases, bank caveaus, prisons totally sealed off apart for teleporting cabins: you do not need having anymore point of failures in form of physical access to those.

Just-in-time business operations become even more prevalent as courier and postal services start using these devices in place of ships, trains and planes to move things from node to node.

Geography influence on trade routes disappear as each node in the trade network becomes equivalent and directly connected to the others, so some cities will lose a lot of importance and others will acquire it.

As moving freight become so cheap and fast, specialization in production of goods becomes even more prevalent than today, both at national and international level.

Third world could potentially benefit from these devices (obviously this would depend on megacorps and first-world governments actions too) by alleviating the cost of infrastructure to truly join the global network.
There would also be negative backlash as all around the world, local specialists in the "wrong" field would suffer immediate direct competition with the global specialists.

Expect criminal organizations building "black" networks of communicators of their own sooner rather than latter, expecially if transmission are undetectable/unjammable.
As these would be quite expensive and organizationally intensive, and at the same time central to any serious criminal activity in the new world, this would also drive the criminal organizations more toward the "shadow government" type than the "disorganized anarchic mob" type.

Apart from the consequences of disrupting so many business practices, that could lead both to a boom or a depression (we're excluding the case the governments take the technology and close it in a safe and nobody ever see it again, right?),
using total "out of my **s" estimations, the energy use reductions consequences should be enough to stall the inevitable fundamental crisis of the current economic model for about 50 years, but maybe this would be compensated by increased use of other fundamental resources like, oh, food, rare elements, etc. etc...


38:

I was actually on my way to bed but thought of another point. The kinetic catastrophes mentioned should be essentially impossible as accidents. (Learning experiences during R&D and intentional sabotage are different subjects.) There are too many easy ways to keep a wrong number from trashing the booth.

Assuming that trying to hop directly from London to LA doesn't just blow a fuse and get you an irate lecture from a technician...

It's easy enough for the initial handshake protocol between booths to include their physical location. (Updated in realtime via GPS for the semi-mobile ones.) Trivial calculation will show whether or not making this transfer would be a good idea. For many users this would be invisible: the business drone going from London to Rome via British Portways is automagically routed London -> Foo -> Bar -> Baz -> Rome and pops out in the Eternal City neither knowing or caring where he was in the intermediate moments while his inertia was relatively gently adjusted (but will probably complain about the bumpy ride). For people who play on the technical side, they'll learn how much mismatch is acceptable. Doubtless it will depend on what's moving.

Air forces will train pilots in velocity-matching acrobatics. Do it right and you only need to match the other guy's vector for a few moments...

39:

- No isotopes? Nice way to remove radioactive contamination, I'd say. Though I believe there's a bunch of radioisotopes occurring naturally in most matter (carbon-dating, remember?) So there'd be some more specific limitation, e.g. "close to subcritical mass" (however, subcritical mass varies and given certain techniques a smaller mass can be brought to criticality).

Bioweps would naturally become a concern, as well.

Copying the matter being transported might be a concern - depending on the method of matter transmission. E.g. in Clifford Simak's "Waystation" there were special tanks installed that were used to "create" the bodies of travellers at the receiving end. If matter is being "converted" to some intermediate state (e.g. information), then this can be used to create several instances of the matter being transmitted. Questions immediately arising - replication of stuff (if economically feasible); "cloning" (will the "personality" and, going deeper, "soul" be also copied?).

This could go on and on...

Sideline - there's an interesting Russian sci-fi novel "Spectrum" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectrum_(Russian_novel)) featuring an alien-provided mattrans system with peculiar limitations imposed on those wishing to use it. Could read up on it using the wiki link above, might inspire you to create something even more interesting as well.

40:

Since "no isotopes" is pure handwavium, can we make it read "no trans-uranics"?

41:

No radioisotopes at all means that the conventional cargo industry can probably continue to rely on the banana shipping business. (Smoke detectors too.) Too bad about the diseases sweeping through the plantations. And in a related note, humans using the teleporter booths will likely need potassium supplements after a trip.

If a booth can be left open -- operating as a portal -- it could kill the transcontinental fiber industry.

42:

Interesting thought experiment.

There is lots of scope for negative immediate consequences, such as paranoia. I'd like to consider some other possible immediate effects, generally related to globalisation speeding up (within 10 years of introduction)
* Lots more international relationships & offspring
* Networking becomes much easier (including setting up those crucial initial, trust-building relationships): global civil society leaps forward, with unforeseeable consequences for national- and regional-level political developments
* Potentially fewer wars (well, one can hope)
* The existing gap between urban and rural, and between centre and periphery gets much bigger much faster.
* Disruptive technology means numerous businesses go bust (e.g., why fly runner beans from Kenya to northern Europe if you can transfer a consignment far quicker and without having to pay a pilot or two).
* New businesses - and particularly, new trade routes/trading partnerships - spring up.
* Serious environmental benefits if you use renewable energy to power the teleporting process (freight, passenger travel).
* Seriously upmarket hotels suffer: hotels near a teleport booth must compete with transfer costs. Sleeping in your own bed every night becomes a mark of a certain kind of super-rich.
* Quick-response disaster relief becomes a lot easier
* UK train companies go out of business as long-distance passengers abandon the overpriced sardine can in favour of a more comfortable and almost certainly cheaper experience.


Security depends entirely on who controls the technology, and the associated knowledge.

In the scenario, can private citizens with very deep pockets have one built, perhaps clandestinely? In that case, you're looking at a kind of private airfield without any controls. And there is the potential for a completely off-grid, point-to-point option? I'm sure governments would set up a couple of these for sekritt meetings and the like, but I can think of a number of organised groups that would also profit from such a set-up. The necessary machinery would make concealment difficult, but surely not impossible.
This would be a terrorist's wet-dream, I guess, but I wonder what it would do to the trade in illicit drugs? A bit of smuggling helps keep the price high, but this technology permits huge quantities to flood the market.

If it starts off being a telephone exchange, does this suggest that the costs will come down over time, making it cheaper and easier to run teleport booths? If so, I could see a scenario in which, over time, people could move around relatively informally and using something analogous to TOR in today's internet.

And this is an excellent technology for getting political refugees out of a country quickly.


The set-up reminds me very slightly of OGH's Merchant Prince series, in the sense of its becoming easier for small groups to shift contraband.

43:

At $40m a pop you could buy 1,275 units for the current estimated cost of the full HS2 network or (roughly) 1 for every 2 railway stations currently in the UK.

So...

You're probably talking about the collapse of most intercity transport options longer than 30-60 minutes (both fright and passenger), the collapse of most non-mil aircraft and ship construction (inc. a loss of skill). The loss of a large amount of Big Construction that's no longer needed. Similar reductions in car and oil usage and production with the knock on effects for those employed in those sectors.

On the other hand if it was moderately affordable, say 2k - 4k a year for 500 miles of travel, you suddenly allow a vast number of new living locations for the UK middle and upper working class. Otherwise deprived northern city centres become massively more attractive when you can work in London but pay 1/3 of the price to rent/buy. Cost of changing jobs is reduced as a job in Liverpool city centre becomes as close as your current job in York city centre if your already gating in from Hull anyway. That means greater urban density around the local gate + increased 'spoke' public transport services centred on this gate at the cost of a probable further collapse of regional identity.

The massive (and interesting) changes start if you can get the gate unit cost down to $100000 and the transport costs down to 10p a mile per year...

Security wise? Well who would know if what came out the other side was what went it...

44:

Let's get more specific and say "no actinide transition series unstable isotopes -- shove 'em through a teleporter and they decay immediately". Which means if you shove a sub-critical assembly into a gate, it goes "bang" the instant it arrives.

(In which case your nuclear-smuggling scenario is replaced by a covert gate-installation scenario. Which, for something the size of an elevator and costing $40M, is a bit tougher than smuggling an eighth of slate.)

45:

To some extent, there is a single 'airport city' (and associated airport culture) now. Much cheaper, faster transportation would make that effect even more profound. Value would accumulate around the first movers as they become hubs.

Big military things might not fit through it now, but since being able to go through a teleporter would be advantageous, appropriately sized military devices would start being built. The first such military devices would be humans with slightly different training and/or organization. A human who participates in an early clash and/or is given the opportunity to 'write the book' might be quickly promoted and put their stamp on a new institution.

Diseases evolve to become more virulent in higher-density populations because they don't have to keep the host alive as long. After some scares and/or disasters, traversing borders of quarantine zones might be the major timesink of "long distance" travel - and so you get roughly one teleporter city, which might be identified with its first-mover central hub, per quarantine zone. E.g. "I'm going to New York" meaning "I plan to enter the US-and-close-allies quarantine zone that accreted around the first-mover that connected Boston/New York" even if technically you're going to London.

46:

>Copying the matter being transported might be a concern - depending on the method of matter transmission.

Same thoughts here, but I think the use of the keyword 'transport' in the original description rather than 'teleport' is the key limiter.

47:

If it involves digitisation then condensing out of raw energy at the target then I forgot the big one - replay attacks on the value of tangible items.

Pop my ipad/gold brick into the magic digitising gate, record the digital sequence and replay until I have a golden house with iPad roof tiles. Information about the structure of an object becomes everything.

A nice side effect is that we now have a near post scarcity world in several key areas.

48:

Transport something bulky like sea water from the equator to the poles; the potential energy from the angular momentum of being at the equator is going to get transferred to the cargo somehow. However this happens, you have a quick, cheap and effective way of turning the potential energy of the planet's rotation into usable energy.

The downside would be thermal pollution of the poles.

49:

How much energy does it take to ship aside from that matching kientic and angular? Because I can now ship 9m3 of water from Yellowstone lake to the top of a tower on the coast directly east or west that is 2000M high as fast as the machine can go. That's a pretty big head of water and a seriously cool water feature.

50:

If the gizmo manages true straight line speed of light transfer I can see the financial markets wanting it. With a pair of booths just outside the Tokyo and New York stock exchanges, you should be able to beat and piece of fiber that has to go round the outside of the planet! All you need is a bit of hardware that does a store and forward of messages and gets shuttled back and forth every few milliseconds!

51:

All the 'old' Airlines go bust. They can't sign up for this new tech because their cabin crew/pilots will go on strike, they'd need the cash from the operating Airline to pay for it AND their biggest asset, aircraft, are now worth a lot less.

52:

You might not be able to refuel rockets in flight, but you'd still revolutionise space travel. Launch one transfer booth to geosync orbit (so you have a fixed point in the reference frame of the transmitter to aim for, which is what you'd have with all the other receivers because they're moving too as the earth rotates and orbits, not to mention earthquakes which change their position within the reference frame), and now you can pretty much dump matter into orbit (yes, you have an energy input to make up for the kinetic energy difference, but finding energy on the ground in electrical form is cheap and easy compared to rocket fuel).

Once you have that done, feed through parts for new transfer booths to the geosync terminal, and parts for engines and fuel, and now you have several more terminals at lagrange points and then a network on the moon (you'd have to have ships to transfer from lagrange points to the reference frame of the moon's surface, but with a way to sidestep the problem of getting the matter into orbit using only rocket fuel, that's not as big a challange as it used to be). Before you know it, you've got a space industry outstripping the wildest dreams from the 1960s.

And *now* you have a security problem, because now someone can go into space and steal (or even just rent) a ship (what, this is far-fetched? in a thought experiment about cheap mass transfer booths? In a world where a bunch of saudis could go to the US, pay for private flying lessons, practice with a commerically available flight simulator on a PC in their own homes and then go steal one of the most advanced and expensive vehicles in the world to attack the World Trade Centers, thus changing the entire world they lived in?).

And with a ship under their control, they just have to go to a NEO like apophis (and given the kind of people who'd do this, you wouldn't need a ship design that would let them survive the trip) and give it a fairly small shove and a little while later, to quote Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the west coast of the United States is scrubbed clean for a quarter-mile inland by forty to fifty tsunami waves and their associated debris over the course of an hour. And there are a multitude of other things they could do, right up to an uncomplicated kamikaze attack on a city (or colony on the moon) using the ship itself from orbit.

Now *that* would get your space industry shut down before it even got started. But there's worse. You might get someone using this to actually do what we've been talking about doing for decades - mining asteroids. The economic fallout of someone coming home from just the first trip (with the promise or threat of future trips) hauling enough of a cargo to depress market prices on some metals would be enormous. The entire mining industry and all its support industries could collapse in very short order. They wouldn't be the only ones; solar power on earth is a bit iffy at best, but in space it's a solid and reliable power source and with no real restriction on how much mass you could move to orbit, you could have massive solar panel arrays providing 24 hour power very quickly, and there go the coal, oil and gas industries (oil might survive for transportation and manufacturing for a while, but it wouldn't be stable anymore the way it is now) and now you have economic problems with the dollar which is fairly heavily dependant on the oil trade at the moment.

To be honest, compared with the disruption all that would cause, trying to smuggle a suitcase bomb into a transfer booth to kill a dozen or so people at the far end wouldn't really be worth it from a cost/benefit point of view.

53:

One consequence is you cease to exist. A copy of you appears on the other end to live out the rest of "your" life. But whatever it is that makes you you,mthe continuity of who you are is gone. Of course that"s assuming the process deconstructs you and transmits some kind of digital data to the receiver, and then rebuilds the copy of you there.

For example, would you pay the same amount of money for a copy of a famous painting as the painting itself? A copy is not the same as the original, no matter how faithful.

54:

Drug smuggling becomes pointless. Instead of moving the drugs, you move the druggies. In a way, this can already be done with cheap charter flights to countries with lax enforcement (and a local monopoly) but with lower transit costs and zero travel time, you can get people back in time to sign on.

55:

The topology of civilisation changes. All major cities, and countless smaller ones, are now effectively a single super-city for those who can afford daily teleports. Particularly within a country, given international teleporters are likely to have customs agents at either end.

Installing the first public teleporter in a mid-size town becomes a critical decision affecting the entire future of the local area. Its economy, population, and demographics will never be the same again, as it will effectively be turning itself into a superconnected suburb of the globopolis, with all that entails.

New mapbooks will be published which consist of the areas out to 20km around the world's teleport points. Everything related to transport will be measured in terms of how close it is to a teleporter, once the cost-per-trip becomes low enough so that trans-teleporter delivery of an item or service becomes cost-effective.

All shopfront storerooms in a chain are now the same physical storage area, a giant warehouse out in the middle of nowhere. Everything in the store catalogue is now most definitely "in the back room" at every single store. Every storefront is also a secondary warehouse for every other storefront. With accurate tracking, supply and demand will equalise across an entire chain - there will never be an item overstocked in one location and completely unfindable in another.

Mail and package delivery, particularly over intercity distances, becomes much faster, cheaper, and more reliable. With cheap enough teleports, fast food delivery goes global (or at least national).

The demand for international travel skyrockets, as even with cross-border teleportation requiring a stopoff at customs, you only need two teleports to get from any city to any other - at most, an hour or two versus a day or two. Governments don't know whether to crack down on international travel or give in and open up - at least between favoured countries.

Global topology shrinks drastically, and compresses further with each new teleporter installed. Unless you're out in the middle of the ocean, you soon find that it's very difficult to 'get away from it all'.

The hospitality industry booms, balloons, and bubbles in the short term. As soon as the price of a teleport back home approaches the cost of a night at a hotel, though, the bubble pops and the industry collapses nearly overnight. Who wants to book a hotel room when their own bed is $50 and ten minutes away?

The oil and energy industries deflate rapidly, as the cost of balancing spin energies between two points is a fraction of the cost of burning diesel from A to B. All ocean shipping disappears. Nearly all air travel and transport disappears, except island hoppers travelling from teleport points to nearby hinterlands. A huge chunk of the trucking industry is likewise rendered completely unnecessary, and joins rail in the junkheap of surpassed technologies. The price of oil takes a nosedive into the carpet at 500mph.

Large-scale vehicle and infrastructure manufacturing and maintenance lays off three-quarters of its workforce globally, because no-one's buying jets, trains, ships, the majority of truck components, railway stations, airports, seaports, loading cranes and other equipment, a percentage of cars, or quite as many carparks, roads, depots, warehouses, or even buildings, while there are perfectly good empty ones in what were previously inaccessible locations.

Real estate prices in established areas bottom out, as populations slowly equalise across the entirety of land and living space available near the teleporters. Prices in beautiful but used-to-be-remote areas skyrocket temporarily. Canny developers buy and/or build in places they think are likely to invest in a teleporter in the next few years.

Militaries would need to treat teleportation points as massively dangerous. They would demand or invent a gate-detector, if at all possible, and preferably one which can detect a gate even when it's switched off. Failing this, they would demand near-instant airstrike capability and authority over most jurisdictions, on the grounds that any unknown gate could push through a couple of SAM arrays and follow them with near-unlimited ammunition in a matter of minutes. Note also that if aircraft carriers or other military vehicles could carry gates, they would pretty much be a floating/flying/driving shell wrapped around nearly the entire capability of a nation's forces. Are there any limits to how fast something can be moving when it's teleported? Point your gate at the enemy, and pour every missile in your national armoury under 3m long through it in a rapid-fire set of blinks. Who needs intercontinental capability when you're always within range? Especially if the first thing you send through a gate near the target is fifty more self-propelled gates? Any gate which was destroyed in combat could be replaced in seconds by any of the others - warfare would be a matter of finding what you wanted hit, getting one gate into range, and hitting "First Strike".

In fact, if you had intercontinental ballistic gate delivery systems... well, you could wipe out anything anywhere on the planet as long as you could overwhelm local defences fast enough, survive a retaliatory strike, and hope that your opponent didn't have a gate secretly smuggled into place anywhere near anything of yours.

56:

I'm thinking that the way this is set up it's almost identical to air travel, without the inconvenience of the actual aeroplanes. Teleportation booths will be set up much like airports with similar security. Individual bad guys won't be able to move around any easier than they do today.

There are military implications. Invade a country by smuggling a booth to a remote location and your army magically pops up in the remote location. You can't just defend your borders any more.

We might assume that the wealthier a person is the less likely they are to be a terrorist. That's why (so far) we don't have terrorists with nuclear bombs -- they're too expensive. So whether or not we have terrorists popping up in random locations depends on the cost of the booths. They cost as much as airliners. So far we don't have any terrorists with airliners. So the prognosis seems good.

57:

Concerning the issue of terrorism threats – as has already been pointed out – the most 'effective' terrorist attacks we know of have been made with rather low tech approaches: hijacking planes, car bombs, commercially available firearms.

I for one believe that the reason we do not see more terrorist attacks on the scale of 9/11 or Breivik is that most people don't think its a good idea. In fact, so many people thinks it a bad idea, that this is what actually keeps the number of incidents down. Security services and secret police might have some impact, but I doubt it. The Breivik example is just a recent example.

The fact that there exists so many easy ways to hurt or kill lots of people points in the direction of other factors inhibiting terrorist attacks rather than technical or financial hurdles. Poisoning urban drinking water, mass shootings, cutting down necessary power lines… There is no limit to relatively cheap low tech ways to kill people.

If you want to.

58:

You could use it for terraforming
You could drop one transmitter in the ocean and have water arrive where you wanted

59:

So I think the starting point is: how is this different from existing transport options? Charlie has set up the scenario so that the hardware cost is similar to that of an airline, and stipulated an energy cost that is going to be smaller than flying from A to B but not negligible (except in a few happy cases). I'd guess that there will also be other savings too (e.g. labour is a big cost for airlines). So superficially this is similar to existing flights, but faster and with significantly lower running costs -- how much lower depends on details of the tech and implementation that we don't know.

Economics: long-range passenger transit is cheaper, maybe much cheaper -- but I don't see the first-order effects as a game-changer. Commercial flights are already pretty damned cheap. Bulk, non-perishable cargo shipping is also already pretty cheap if you're close to the coastline. The places where I see this making a difference are for perishable goods, for sources far inland, and for supply chains. (Just-in-time is a lot easier if your supplier is seconds away.)

Social: I see two key differences for moving people around: it's very fast and decentralized. Both push in the direction of making location -- and local authority -- irrelevant. Controlling the movement of people and goods becomes essentially impossible, and jurisdiction issues make a lot of current regulation impractical. So this heads towards a libertarian paradise/nightmare (reader's choice). There are still some sanctions that can be applied (at the "if you do bad things elsewhere and we subsequently catch you in our patch, you will be for the high jump" level) but given such freedom of movement they become easy to avoid. How this shakes out on the end depends on events, but I could see it winding up with large swathes of the planet fairly anarchic but with a few totalitarian states that enforce strict bans on teleport tech, or with a global government setting rules that apply *everywhere*. (Or I guess there's the stodgy British path where the world has changed radically but people keep on living in the same place following pre-existing social conventions out of inertia.)

60:

Airports are already major disease vectors. Increasing the number of travelers would aggravate the problem.

One of the older SF writers managed a novel on that very thing, but it wasn't a very good story, and my mind refuses to cough up the author or title.


Assuming you could stairstep transits to handle the momentum problem in a practical way, and that costs aren't excessive, you'd probably wind up with a new cargo container size compatible with the transmitter, and you'd do to the whole world's cargo transportation industry what the original cargo container did to the British shipping industry in the 1960s.

Depending on the cost of operating the portal, the conservation of momentum might work *for* you. A stream of room-sized chunks of something heavy would make a nice weapon.

Or... grab the incoming cargo with arrester cables like an aircraft carrier, and use them to drive turbines to make power or pump water.

Or... the Earth spins. At any given time any portal near the equator is pointing *somewhere* along the ecliptic. Spread a dozen portals around the equator and you could flip chunks of seawater out to a spacecraft, something like an Orion system of intermittent propulsion. Given that your water/air mass incoming would expand in vacuum, you could bleed off pressure for some minor vector correction. For extra zip, drop the transmitter part down in one of the deeper parts of the ocean. You still have to get your spacecraft up there, but once in orbit you have an essentially unlimited amount of low-velocity reaction mass.

61:

I'm happy to see that some folks remember Larry Niven's early short stories about teleportation, although I will point out that it's also used tactically in his puppeteer books.

Wil McCarthy's Queendom of Sol series also uses teleportation, although it's digital, not done by actually transmitting the body through any sort of wormhole, so the conservation of momentum problem goes away, and the copyright problem becomes serious. Hijinks ensue. Lots of good tech and physics in the books.

Eric, from a practical perspective, either the thing that wants continuity is the collection of atoms in the particular arrangement that is you, in which case you continue after teleportation, or it is some metaphysical entity like a soul, in which case either the soul finds the body (see Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) or it doesn't.


The McCoy problem is sort of amusing as a side-note, and it's used that way to good effect in the Star Trek series, but unless you want to do a story about scientific experiments to prove or disprove the existence of a metaphysical soul separate from the body, I don't think it's that interesting. I don't know how you'd drive a plot with that.

62:

I predict a bright future for these gadgets in the waste disposal business. (Which is a security issue, considering some of the toxic crap that an industrial civilisation can generate.)

The classic Mob would use them to literally send people to sleep with the fishes.

63:

Range-limited pairs get installed at or near nuclear powerplants; because it "just won't transmit" trans-uranic elements, it becomes a very effective decontamination technique. On the downside, people start to complain that their antique luminescent watches have lost their glow...

Firemen breathe a sigh of relief, because now they can drop water onto a fire on the 115th floor, just by making sure that there's a receiver on the top floor of the building.

There are agricultural implications; Middle-Eastern types are caught trying to drop a transmitter into the Great Lakes, and "Water diplomacy" becomes a possibility. I'm avoiding issues surrounding the energy required to transmit an 18-tonne cube of ice from Antarctica to somewhere near the Equator.

64:

Why not teleport the water into a tank 100 meters above at the same location? And then let it drain through a turbine? Something here smells like a perpetual motion machine though.

65:

Data transfer. Shoving hard disks through a teleporter beats the hell out of a fibre optic cable in terms of bandwidth. Gigantic data sets (lifelogs?) can be shuffled around easily and mined for useful information.

Sports events. Without the need to spend 12 hours on an airplane, teams (and fans) can travel to meet each other far more easily. Expect regular matches between English county (or village?) cricket teams and their counterparts in Australia. Also, bring on the grand USA-Canada-Scandinavia-Russia ice hockey league.

Shift workers commuting from distant time zones -- leave Australia in the morning to start the graveyard shift in the UK, or vice versa.

66:

I think the first order effect is that it increases the volume of international flight. A Boeing 737 takes about 200 passengers. A four hour flight which if full moves those 200 passengers at 0.83 passengers per minute.

A matched pair of boxes which can hold say 12 passengers & luggage. If it takes one minute to scan its own contents a box-booth can process 12 passengers per minute. Half that because you need two boxes compared to one jet liner.

(I’m saying a scan per minute because I think any longer to scan and transmit and reform the contents doesn’t really count at instantaneous.)

That’s about 7 times the capacity for the same capital outlay.

The cost comes down quite a lot. Roughly an order of magnitude more efficient use of capital for the box-booths vs jetliners. No airports. No rail links to airports. No billion pound tramways to airports.

The opportunity cost comes down a lot too. Instead of a four hour flight with an hour getting to the airport either side and an hour wait for a seven hour total I cut out 4 hours of air travel and potentially arrive right in the middle of not just the city I want to visit but the middle of the quarter of the city I want to visit. I can go for dinner with my mates in Portland Oregon.

Long distance travel can be done in much smaller batches. I don’t have to wait until there are 200 or so people going to where I want to go. I need to find a dozen. So, if I’m going somewhere popular I just turn up at the hub and take a ticket and wait until a slot comes free. If 600 people a day go from Edinburgh to New York, that’s three flights a day. Or 50 full booths, two an hour. I turn up, pay my money, buy a coffee, average wait 15 minutes. Probably buying the coffee becomes the limiting factor.

It probably does similar things to long distance rail. It might do something similar to public transport in large cities.

Edinburgh airport handled about 9.3m passenger in 2011. Assuming 100% efficient 24 – 7 operation I reckon you need 1.5 units (or maybe 3 units – might have slipped a halving in the calculations). So a cost of between $60-120m. And we could put these right inside Waverley station. (Which handles about 20m passengers a year.)


I’m not sure that it creates hubs. For $40m I can connect Bumfluff, NSW to any other terminal in the world, including the one in Crevice, Oregon. A town of 10,000 people can have one for $4k each. Assuming a 40 year life, $100 per year. Not an insignificant amount but not bad compared to the price of a family car. So instead of sharing Edinburgh Airport with 1 million people I share the Marchmont terminal with 10,000 people.


A second order effect is that it probably drives up the price of electricity as energy used for transport swops from jetfuel and diesel to electricity. This in turn makes renewable energy and nuclear more cost competitive. (Until heavy industry moves to orbit).

Public transport for large events might just become easier if I can put a handful of these units on the back of a lorry and drive them to Murrayfield.

67:

Two notes

1. While this tech collapses all urban areas into one planetary super-city, it's not going to have much effect on (a) rural areas, (b) suburbs and exurbs, (c) people living in underdeveloped nations outside of cities.

So expect rural deprivation to accelerate. Also, possibly, rewilding of suburbs and exurbs.

2. Immigration policy: every government in the developed world will collectively shit a brick when they realize the implications for immigration. But because of the logistic wet-dream it presents, they won't be able to simply ban it. If it gets really widespread, however, eventually the immigration headache goes away: people can in principle commute from one side of the planet to another to do a day's work. This may lead to the spread of geoslavery (movement limits enforced by GPS tracking device) and imported outsourcing plants -- workers for country X work on country X's soil but go home to country Y to live/sleep.

68:

See "gravitational potential energy" above. You could do the teleport-water-straight-up-to-drive-a-turbine thing, but it'd get out less energy than you put in.

69:

Hmm, I note they still violate causality....

You also don't make it clear if they are continuous transportation devices (a la Stargate) or 3x3x3m volumes on a discrete switched basis. Either can be fiddled.

Dumping waste seems a no brainer.

Asteroid mining, also easy.

Interstellar travel becomes a case of equipotential mapping.

You can do the equivalent of a laser, except with rail gun type technology - then shift the end point once you've got things moving nice and fast. Should be able to do your interplanetary travel using that.[Out] > accelerate > [In] - all in a vacuum here on earth - with a power station to feed it.

At minimum you should be able to mine high energy volumes, energetically and gravitational (eg the sun), thanks to your conversion dictate - which means your no rocket fuel dictate can be sidestepped.

Oh, and if ALL isotopes fission when passed through these gates, well there is another sidestep to your rocket fuel - those long half-life isotopes just became highly fissile material.

What is the half life of oxygen? Other common elements?

It would require energy to do so, wouldn't it? So, shift your isotopes greater than iron through and you get energy, dump your isotopes less than iron and you can absorb large quantities of energy.

If you really have to play in such prosaic concerns as security - well, there are more interesting things you can shove throw a instantaneous transit hole than nukes or tanks.

70:

I’m not so sure it doesn’t do anything for suburbs or exurbs or rural areas.

I used to live in Walget in very rural NSW. It’s a town of about 1,500 people. It’s an hour’s from Lighting Ridge (similar population) and an hour from Narrabri (pop, 6,000).

The cost of a house in Sydney is perhaps ten times the cost of a house in Walget.

So surrounding Narrabri within an hour is a population of maybe 20,000. For US$50 a year they could pay the capital cost of a box-booth and for the difference in interest on housing costs the main bread-winner could commute daily to Sydney.

71:

One lovely second order effect for me is that it become much, much easier for me to maintain relationships with my family. The thing that stops me seeing my relatives in Australia annually isn’t so much the £4,000 price tag but the 36 hour flight with a toddler and the need to take at least two weeks off work to make it worthwhile.

72:

I just had an idea for dealing with the momentum conservation issue. It works best with a single paired system, but could be adapted.

Forget big shock absorbers and other systems for trying to prevent the passenger from turning into jam. It won't work anyway and it's no fun.

For terrestrial travel sit the passenger on a rocket sled that is set up to match velocity with the destination booth, and have the teleporter engage at the precise moment that it passes through the booth.

Guaranteed fun for all the family!

73:
it's not going to have much effect on (a) rural areas, (b) suburbs and exurbs
I think you're wrong. Yes, it does mean that suddenly I'll be able to travel quickly to Beijing or Mumbai or São Paolo and be part of the "global city", but it also means that anyone in a major city will be able to get to my small town equally cheaply and quickly; so what is there that dictates that we'll necessarily all converge at the big city model at all?

The value of concentrating that many people in one place seems to be that everything is close together. Well, given magic handwavium tech like what is proposed everything is already close together – and my small town has cleaner air and lower rents.

I'd say that the exact opposite is going to happen, and major cities are what is going to depopulate. Small towns, above the size required to get the tech, gets a boost, and especially if they're close to something that's otherwise attractive. (Then they grow until they're no longer interesting and we do another iteration.)

74:

Some thoughts

Legal aspects:
- "I was in another city" alibis become null (Niven had this in one of his stories).
- Murders/Assaults while in the booth become a jurisdictional problem. Fire gun just before the transport happens and the death occurs at the other end!

Health/Safety issues:
- You would want to ensure that the booths sealed before transport. Last thing you want is for it to "energise" while you were half way through the door :)
- "Jetlag" worse than flying, body clocks seriously out of whack

75:

Some numbers.
If a load / transport / unload cycle takes 1 min, and cost is $50M (and an assumed investment rate is 10%) the capital cost would come out to about $10 per load per end.
at $0.10 per kWh, a 1000M height difference for a 5t cargo would be about $1.4, and an equator to pole energy difference would be $15.
SO for a full utilisation system we are looking at about $10 per tonne anywhere on earths surface as a lower end. With multi jumps and not full utilisation this could be in the order of $20 per tonne within county, and $100 per tonne intercontinental.
FOr passangers the wieght would not be as relevant, but $20 per load in country and $100 per load intercontinetal might be reasonable.

I would suspect that witha blacklist capability, each country or customs union would blacklist any transmitter not in territory, except to come into a border corssing customs station. I woudl also expect that an advanced scanner woudl be built into every transmitter (i.e millimeter wave, nude scanner, etc), and a scan woudl be tranmitted and evaluated before accepting the transmission.

If the data suecurity was to difficult, I would expect a dedicated network would be built to transmit permisions.

In terms of conservation of momentum, it woudl depend a lot on how much of the structure,e tc tranfered as well, and if the mass idfference was more important than the actual masses involved...

76:

One thing I don't think anyone's mentioned yet: the most likely players to get this whole thing started are governments. This is because firstly, a government is more likely to be able to see the immediate short and medium-term benefits of having this technology available; and secondly, a government is more likely to be willing and able to spend the money on this technology. There is, after all, a reason why governments worldwide are the major spenders on infrastructure projects - and this is definitely what would be classified as infrastructure.

What this means, in effect, is that within 5 - 10 years the bulk of global transportation systems would be effectively nationalised - they'd be owned by governments on behalf of the people of various countries. And once the initial costs of the terminals have been paid for (which could take as little as eight years per terminal - assuming a flat "journey fee" of $10 per journey, 1 journey per minute 24/7/365 and an initial cost of $40M, with differential energy costs as a variable fee for each journey) the terminals are actually earning money for the governments who purchased them, and the taxpayers thereof also. So within two to three electoral cycles (depending on whether you have a three or four year electoral cycle) of the installation of the first terminal in your country, your government could be seeing a big increase in revenue without needing to raise taxes by a single cent.

77:

The electricity bill for Earth-Moon will be non-trivial, but it won't be all that big, either. The major limitation of rockets is, well, the Rocket Equation, which is based on momentum and on the engineering limits of how fast we can make stuff come out of the nozzle, not on energy.

A human to the moon will be around a MW hr in gravitational potential energy. Based on xkcd.com/681 other places will quickly get a lot more expensive, but probably not prohibitively so — maybe 5-6 MW hr gravitational difference to get to Mars or Venus, and the other steps are all smaller. Possibly there would be favourable windows each day for the momentum differences as the planets turn in their orbits.

We might end up with a situation similar to today's air/sea division: humans travel the solar system by teleport, cargo by ion drive (or produced locally).

78:

Hmm my thoughts on the super-city idea is that whilst personel transport between cities will become more convinient there is still the issue of price of transport and bottlenecks of getting people into and out of the machines. Cargo transport between the two would be significantly linked though so we are more likely to see a global industrial complex developing.

Regarding the security implications, does this set up allow for hacking and cyberwarfare? If so attacking a country could consist of hacking a few key gates so that when key officials go through they are sent to your gate in a detention centre in your country. On top of that disrupting a country completely by randomising their destinations could be a real nightmare.

Alternative military ideas:
- Mobile gates carried on military planes. They land in a country, open their door and further gates/soldiers/tanks etc pile through
- Similar for covert missions except you hack another countries gates to drop your team into wherever you want.

79:

Sociological extrapolation to interstellar teleportation in (I can't find a digital copy):
"I'm Going Home", Jonathan V. Post & Dr. Christine Carmichael [Amazing Stories Magazine, ISSN: 0279-1706, ed. Patrick L. Price, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Vol.63, No.1, Issue 540, pp.110-111, May 1988]

80:

Assume this is feasible but with the energy cost given by OGH, thus side-stepping much of GG’s post at #54, I’ve come up with two scenarios on how it could be done without the need for a battalion of Marines at every port. I’m sure they could be improved, but here’s a first draft in the style of Uncle Arthur, with a topping of Bruce Schneier..

1. Jane Q Executive has to hop from LA to Tokyo for a two-day meeting at one day’s notice as her boss has fallen ill.
2. My family, for reasons that escape me, decide in April that they want to spend August in Florida doing the amusement parks.

First scenario: assume Jane has a valid passport and visa. She authorises Teleporters LLC to query the State Department’s passport database for confirmation that the biometrics and other personal details State have on file match the ones she has given them. Teleporters LLC have reasonable assurance that Jane is who she says she is, and can then ask DHS if she’s on the no-port list. She isn’t.
Jane has to travel light: one carry-on case and/or a Scottevest, which will be scanned and manually searched in her presence when she turns up at the nearest internal port office. She’s also biometrically checked and gently grilled by DHS staff who have been trained to check for inconsistencies in her records and what she says (I know, but hey – teleportation, fantasy…). Given the all-clear, she’s handed an electronic “boarding card” confirming when and where the checks were made, and sent on her way to a port in the US that can send her to Japan.
Once at the international transfer port, DHS check the boarding card against her and she walks into the next 9-person “car” that will be ported to Tokyo either when it’s full or 30 minutes after the first traveller gets in, whichever happens first. It’s not what you’d call first class – it’s got “standing room” seats – but they’ve got a degree of ergonomic comfort and you’re only supposed to be in them for half an hour. Which she is.
Rinse and repeat for the return journey – Jane left her boarding card at Tokyo port with her planned return date, and Japan carries out a selection of random checks with visitors’ countries of origin to make sure they’re still who they say they are.

Second scenario: again, assume passports and visas are valid. About a week before we leave, four boxes, about a cubic metre each, are delivered to our house. In them goes everything that’s “not wanted on voyage” such as a full week’s change of clothing, spare toiletries, second-best cameras and so on. (Yes, there’s a list of what you can’t pack.) We don’t have to itemise everything that goes in the boxes, but it’s recommended for insurance purposes. Once packed, we seal the boxes with a PIN and/or a biometric.
No less than 48 hours before we travel, the boxes are picked up. They’ll be weighed, scanned, and sniffed for anything out of the ordinary like possible explosives or RF emissions (you no longer have to worry about pressure switches set to go off at 25,000 feet, but a GPS set to go bang when the latitude and longitude change…). Some boxes will also be opened at random and checked, but once that’s all done they’re ported off to Florida where they’re kept in a holding pen until we turn up with our carry-on cases, having gone through roughly what Jane’s gone through in scenario one. Reunited with our baggage, we’re ported into $Amusement_Park reception.

Points:
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes here, designed to weed out trouble before it gets anywhere near a port. Combine this with a check at an internal port before you get to an overseas one, and the worst that’s likely to happen is that there’s a small, easily handled incident at the local port. If you’re in a group, then unless you’re looking after small children, you may (and probably will) be routed off in different directions, perhaps only being reunited at an internal port in the country you’re visiting. This reduces the changes of teaming up and whipping out your box-cutters en masse.
Also, the port stations are just that: a place to move people from A to B. No gift shops. No restaurants. No adjacent hotels or room capsules. Lavatories, First Aid, and staff trained to move people to where they’re supposed to go as quickly as humanely possible. Porting is costly and the aim is to get passengers into the correct departure booth in under 15 minutes from their arrival.

81:

Paging Gully Foyle...

82:

Yes, there are all kinds of fun things you can do with a system like this to create havoc on the other side, which makes an opt-in system a necessary requirement, I think. (You don't want to have to receive something from a transmitter to declare it a problem; block it until you can determine it's safe ... assuming there is a surefire way to do that.)

Of equal interest to me would be the failsafe mechanisms. I suspect you'd have to be very careful with them, because bad guys would most certainly be interested in them. Power's required for transmission: what happens if the "line" is cut during or just before transmission? Or maybe it can be well before transmission. Rather than attacking the gate itself, you attack the support structure for the gate: even if you don't/can't disrupt a transmission, you can possibly shut the gate down for some time.

And maybe you don't even have to try to damage the support structure, but simply overwhelm it. If you have a gate of your own, "plug it in" near the gate you're attacking, connect to a friendly gate at a significantly different latitude, and transmit anything you can find ... say, water, for instance. Or do it the other way around, and place your gate uphill/near the power station. Have the friendly gate send you a bunch of water.

Would a DoS attack be possible on a gate? That relies on pretending to be friendly gates, I guess, so maybe not directly ... and even if you took over one gate and flooded another one with requests/transmissions, they could simply deny further access to you. (Hmm. Maybe it depends on how the blacklist works. Where would your request-to-transmit be denied?)

Presumably the receiving station has to have an open "spot" for the arriving material; what if the spot is occupied when something is incoming? (Maybe you have to wait for a "ready" signal from the receiving station before sending, but that can be spoofed, can't it?) What if you transmit something that expands when it arrives? (This might not necessarily happen on purpose.)

Can you make smaller gates? What would happen if you tried to transmit a smaller, active gate through a standard gate? What about transmitting something through the smaller gate while it's being transmitted? (This would presumably require some kind of automated setup to get the timing right.)

83:

If momentum carries over that makes a huge difference. Travelling any distance except swapping place from the approximately same latitude and longitude on the opposite hemisphere will result in a crash on arrival.
This could be mediated through several small hops, but not in a room full of standing people (like an elevator).

So, a lot of those boxes will be needed and you probably have to be seated the same way as in an airplane.

Preservation of energy - will that lead to me getting energy from putting something into a gravity well? Dumping trash into low orbit around jupiter or the sun might be a pretty good source of energy.

84:

You can ship reaction mass. The cost of shipping the mass is far far far far cheaper than what it would cost to build a rocket AND all the mass to boost the rocket. That's enough to open up the galaxy, not just the solar system.

85:

Some of this isn't going to work, or at least not well. Even if we assume the whole side of the receiver gate is open, that's only 3x3 or 9m^2. Even with a high flow rate river feeding the transmitter (take the RIver Spey in Scotland at 64m^3/s and assign this a tentative CSA of 30m^2, all based on the Wikipedia article) you'll delive about 21m^3/s. How much area do you need to flood and to what depth in order to shut down the power station? Can you defend the receiving gate for that long?

86:

Terrorists will love this. "Want to destroy a major transport hub? Just carry sub critical mass of an actinide unstable isotope shielded enough that it doesn't emit noticeable radiation take a transport there" californium-252 seems to be the most useful for that purpose in that, according to Wikipedia(Yes, I know, but I know next to nothing about radioactive materials), it has the lowest necessary size and mass.

87:

As mentioned in the Niven piece someone linked to, the output booth has to have nothing in it to start with, so whoever's manufacturing vacuum pumps makes money hand-over fist. And in scenarios where you've got huge amounts of instability in other industries, you know that each book with need this single mechanical component, regardless of all the other requirements and that that component will break and need to be replaced.
Vacuum pump service techs quickly form an international union, negotiate for high wages, regulate qualifications for who's allowed to maintain the pumps in big city boxes 1-500. Requirements to have 3 people on duty at all times at each box, etc. Forget OPEC nations the IOVPT (that's Interplanetary Organization of Vacuum Pump Technicials, nonce.) is the new strong-arming political organization.

88:

Is there some type of quantum identity function going on here? Or are we going with the molecular disassembly/reassembly? If the latter, I'm converting a lot of people I don't like into ham sandwiches and fruit baskets, and handing them out to the homeless. Was that over the top? Okay, how about shoveling in ordure, and getting out prime rib? What's the wellhead to pumphead numbers on that in comparison?

It won't stop war, nor will it deter it. If anything, it offers a lot of new weapons. Why does everyone assume that a new technology will deter war when, to date, it has always - always - done the opposite?

89:

One issue I've thought about, coming from an ISP background, is data loss. I assume there will be a fairly long transition period where while things can be teleported, human teleportation would be considered too risky -- I can tell you right now, if it's derived from modern networking equipment, it will take many decades and product development cycles, not to mention a load of testing, before enough bugs are worked out for a legal, commonplace human teleportation network to go live.

And during that transition, I expect whoever is manning the phones at the NOC-equivalent is at some point going to have to talk to someone who's wondering where their kid, who tried to teleport himself to Grandma's for Chrismas, ended up after a glitch.

90:

F.M. Busby's short novel "The Singularity Project" didn't cover the security angle at all, but had a clever solution to the conservation-of-momentum problem that I've not seen elsewhere: the device swaps the contents of two volumes of space. If said contents aren't (very nearly) the same mass, charge, etc. the swap doesn't happen.

91:

@ Sabik @76

Are you saying that the electricity required to send a load from Earth to the Moon would be about 1 MW hr?

Which can be bought for about £50.

So a cost of maybe £300 to Mars.

If the figures that Jesse @ 74 are about right then the cost of a return trip to the town of your choice are cheaper than parking currently costs.

As the units are as cheap as 4,000 family cars and the cost of going to anywhere in my own country (or equivalent distance) is as cheap as parking I'm not sure the government would need to fund these.

92:

An alternative (which Charlie may or may not permit) is that the contents of the two booths are swapped.

If this is permitted, then the whole energy/momentum thing, for surface transport, becomes a whole lot easier. You have a loadmaster at each end, and their job is to balance the mass of the contents of the two booths. An extra person going from Moscow to Gdansk? Just put an extra (carefully weighed) sack of sand in the Gdansk end.

Hmm, considering the precedent of cable cars and the like, tanks of water might be used. Nice and dense, while being very amenable to fine measurement.

93:

Consequences, as a stream-of-consciousness thought list:

I don't think it would affect the business/commuting world *hugely*. Yes, it reduces your commute time a lot, but you still have to drive to the railway station and then get a cab/tube/whatever to your destination point; you just save the 45 minute journey. What it does do, as mentioned up-thread, is make everywhere in the world commutable to everywhere else; there is no problem whatsoever with living in Birmingham and working in Shanghai, for example. Interestingly, doing that is currently a pain in the hole for things like taxes and residence permits and visas, but those laws don't get exercised much because almost no-one sane would decide to live in Wiltshire and work daily in Chicago; you'd need an overhaul of that sort of legal concept once people could do that easily.

Obviously cheap airlines just basically go away entirely. Luxury airlines... I should include by reference Rory Sutherland's TED talk about taking the six billion to speed up high-speed rail and spending it on making the journey a zillion times more pleasant at the same duration. I don't think it affects car travel much; at the moment you can travel from city to city without a car on a train, and people choose to drive anyway because you can go point-to-point in a car, and a teleportation booth in each railway station doesn't change that.

It's got big effects, potentially, for environmental concerns too, assuming that the booths are semi-mobile and you can find a way to power them without needing a whole national infrastructure to do so; shipping food to famines, or putting one booth in a drought area and dropping the other into the Pacific, for example. (The power bit is obviously the problem, here. Include a little nuclear battery a la the ones on submarines? Not my field, this, as you can tell.)

Also: longer than you think, Dad! I'm not being the first guy through...

94:

More Numbers.
If it is just a simple swap (with the original momentum at the new location) bad things happen.
For a 100 km jump along the equator the device arrives with a local velocity of 26 kph. For 1000 km this is 261 kph.

If we assume that the two devices swap and transfer energya nd momentum along the lines of an ellastic collision then things are much better. (note there is never an energy input rquired for kinetic energy in this case, as energy is sonserved in an ellastic collision)

In this case the masses need to be matched closly. If the Car weights 5000 kg, and you have 500 kg of cargo (or people) in one and none in the other, the 100 km spped difference is now 1.25 kph, and the 1000 km 12.5 kph.

I would envision an actaul car being 3m wide and long, and 2.5m tall. the top half meter would be a water tank, where the mass difference would be dumped in the lighter car. If the cars weigh exactly the same, and there is an inelastic equivalent energy and momentum transfer, then there will be no kick, and no imput energy required.

This scenario would obviously not work for bulk low value material transport well, so bulk freight cargo ships woudl probably still run, but container cargo would vanish.

95:

In terms of space, the sapping hypothesis gets interesting. It bars transfering rocket fuel to a space craft in flight, becasue they have to send down just as much mass. What it lets you do is swap rocket fuel for asteroid ore, use the rocket fuel to move the rest of teh asteroid to the orbit you want to build in, and then swap the rest of the asteroid for space station parts, crew and supplies.
There woudl be no need to launch from earths surface again, as a swap to the moon in esxchange for moon rocks would get you started froma much more advantageous energy position. Or even better from mars's moons or the asteroids.

One plasuible limitation would be the difference in location of the target when the car left to when it arrived. The same 100 km example has a time lag of 0.0033 sec, and a net velocity difference of 36 m/s. The car coudl arrive 12cm away from where the first one left, and most of the difference would appear to be 'vertical displacement.

96:

If you allow that any town in the West with a population of 10,000 people can afford one of these units then I think there are at least 60 in Scotland. I.e. There are 60 towns in Scotland with a population of more than 10,000. Stranraer, Trannent and Stonehaven are 60, 59, and 58 on the list.

However, this only allows 1 each for Glasgow, Edinburgh etc. At roughly 1 per 10,000 Glasgow has 120 units, Edinburgh 50, Aberdeen 20. East Kilbride has 8.

East Kilbride has 8 international airports and can send a plane load of people to anywhere in world for about $200.

It also doesn’t allow for towns in the Highlands and Islands where folk might be prepared to pay more per capita in order to reduce their travel time or where two towns are close enough to each other to share one between two.

So, you’re maybe looking at 325 in Scotland. At a cost of $40m each that works out at about £8-9bn, or roughly ¼ of the Scottish Consolidated Fund. Not trivial but not crazy numbers.

That’s some pretty deep penetration into the rural areas of Scotland.

97:

First thought for a system like this is transportation of various perishable goods. I'm not sure if it would be more *efficient* than the current supply chain, but it would likely have fewer moving parts and a lot less risk involved. Instead of having fleets of trucks/planes/trains, each of which requires crew and coordination (and each of which has some non-zero chance of catastrophic failure per trip), you have switched gates between your warehouses.

If you hadn't thrown in the "no revolutionizing space travel" thing, I'd also suggest that this gate system might be a workable space elevator (set a gate up in geostationary orbit, and bam, you reduce the cost of getting people/things out into space by quite a bit). Beyond that, I could see an unmanned mission to Mars/celestial-body-of-choice to get one of these set up there.

Assuming your restrictions on running costs/initial investment, I actually can't see this tech causing a lot of social impact. There'll be the obvious new security issues, but that's a pretty incremental change, all things considered.

The social impacts aren't going to become clear until someone comes up with a home version, or maybe writes a cellphone-based thin client.

Oh, actually, vacations might change I guess? Drop one of these next to the Pyramids, one each at the poles, and a few other natural wonders (Yellowstone, Everest, etc etc). Suddenly, going to the other end of the world on a day trip starts seeming feasible for people who have fewer than a billion dollars saved.

98:

@ Stuart @ 93

I think it does affect your commute.

The population density in my town is such that there are arguably enough people wanting this to make having one at my local shops economically viable.

Same at the other end.

So a commute from my home in central Edinburgh to an equivalent office in Glasgow goes from being a 20 minute walk to Haymarket Station, a 50 minute train journey, a 20 minute walk to the office in Glasgow and back or 3 hours a day becomes a 5 minute walk to my local shops, HOP, 5 minutes from Glaswegian local shops to office. I could come home for lunch.

Thinking about my own situation I notice a second order effect. There are quite a few jobs I’d quite like to do in Glasgow but the three hour round trip and the couple of grand of annual travel costs put me off.

If the commute was 20 minutes and the cost was about the same as a bus ticket then I could work in any office anywhere in the world. So I could have my dream job regardless of where it was located. So could everyone. Every business gets to hire exactly the right person from a global pool rather than from a pool of those with an hour’s drive of their office.

What is it worth in productivity terms for everyone who is working to be doing a job they are really enthusiastic about?

(Of course during the adjustment period I am competing for my current job with accountants from India on 1/10th of my salary. Bad Times.)

99:

BEAM ME UP: matter transmission, techno-teleportation
http://www.magicdragon.com/UltimateSF/thisthat.html#beam

If you do it be mental means, it's called "teleportation", if it's done by science and engineering, it's called "matter transmission."

Star Trek's "Beam Me Up, Scottie" is far from the first use of this device in science fiction. Earlier examples include:

Poul Anderson's "The Enemy Stars" (Lippincott, 1959)

John Brunner's "Web of Everywhere" (Bantam, 1974)

Algis Budrys' "Rogue Moon" (Fawcett Gold Medal, 1960): the protagonist with a death wish is again and again transmitted to the Moon to explore a deadly alien maze

Thomas M. Disch's "Echo Round His Bones" (Berkley, 1967): but after you are transmitted, a ghost of you is left behind

Joe Haldeman's "Mindbridge" (St.Martins, 1976)

Harry Harrison's "One Step from Earth" (Macmillan, 1970)

Fred T. Jane's "To Venus in Five Seconds" (1897 !)

Larry Niven's "Flash Crowd" (19zz) and later stories

Bob Shaw's "Who Goes Here?" (19zz)

Clifford Simak's "Way Station" (Doubleday, 1963)

Roger Zelazny's "Today We Choose Faces" (Signet, 1973)

The earliest of all, according to Sam Moskowitz, was "The Man Without a Body" by Edward Page Mitchell [New York Sun, 25 March 1877]. Sam Moskowitz calls
this "the first fictional exposition yet discovered of breaking matter down into energy scientifically and transmitting it to a receiver where it may be reformed."

The adverb "scientifically" is used by Moskowitz, one presumes, to eliminate the earlier but more fantasy-oriented "Helionde" by Sidney Whiting (1855) where the protagonist dreams that he is dissolved into vapor and transmitted to an inhabited Sun.

100:

If costs are low enough, it might make it competitive for places with bad infrastructure to export crops. One problem that African farmers have is that its not practical to ship flowers or chocolate or other delicate luxuries to a port.

You could enforce border controls simply enough by limiting cross-border traffic to a few hubs. Teleport to Missisagua ON, pass security, teleport to Halifax or Iqualuit or Edmonton. If its a unit of ten tonnes and tens of millions of dollars, it won't be trivial to install illegal ones even if the system allows them to work. (Violators should also be straightforward to track down, since the transmitter/receivers are fixed in place and very expensive).

101:

Assuming it's as pervasive as some of the other posters think, what's this going to do to thermal pollution? Laws of thermodynamics and all that.

102:

I'm not sure if anyone's mentioned this yet (apologies if so) but a complication of global commuting is the time difference and how it will affect health via screwed up circadian rhythms. Sure I can live in London and work in L.A. but if I want a 9 to 5 then assuming a 15min journey from home to teleport and teleport to work then I have to leave my house at 4.30pm UK time to get to work by 9am PST.

This could have interesting effects on shift work. Rather than have to pay a night shift a company may bring in commuters from a different time zone and work throughout the day.

103:

1) Can we get the energy out usefully if we move matter from A to B and B has lower P.E. than A?

If so, put a transmitter on the moon and transport moonrock to Earth. You get about 10 MJ per kilo, or about 100 GJ per load. Do that every couple of minutes and you get a 1 GW power station, with inert rock as the only waste product. Obviously the infrastructure is a pain to set up and maintain, but way less than it would be without the gate.

2) Obvious security implication: major R&D in drones and fighting vehicles that either fit into a 3x3x3m cube, or break into modular chunks that you can transport that way.

104:

An idea on the hadwavium for radioisotopes, simply make the process destabilize the radioactives in such a way that they spontaneously decay in the source booth. This limits travel in some ways, including making it somewhat hazardous for bannana fanciers, but it should be fairly controlled. However, transporting a nuke would be a really good way of offing yourself. Also you probably will need to replace/ maintain the booth due to the neutron flux it will be getting. OTOH you will find that ingress security requirements increase rather substantially.

105:

@ Ryan @ 103.

You could work 7.30 am to 3.30pm in LA (or 3pm to 11pm London time. You'd spend 14 hours a day in daylight.

106:

Relevant Dr. McCoy quotes:

"It's been nearly an hour. Can people live that long as disassembled atoms in a transporter beam?"

"No. I signed aboard this ship to practice medicine, not to have my atoms scattered back and forth across space by this gadget."

107:

Considering that this is transmitted through a network infrastructure, what sort of fiddling would be available en route? The obvious methods of rerouting, significant degrading of the signal that would result in death or dismemberment, etc., all seem like there would be pretty strict safeguards and could be easily detected if the attacks came from outside the system.

What about some equivalent of deep packet inspection and code injection? Could a government introduce a few subtle molecular changes to brain chemistry? Could the sponsoring corporation give you an unexpected tattoo? What about DNA manipulation? There are a number of medical conditions that could be quickly fixed (or induced) given the ability to make a couple of transpositions.

108:

It might not even be an issue, depending how the transmission works. If transmission isn't continuous, then channeling a river into a gate wouldn't be helpful at all, because the volume would be far beyond what you could send. (Although I suppose you could send a reasonable amount of flammable liquid and follow it up with an ignition source - after cleaning the transmitting gate first.)

I suppose some of these threats assume that I have a gate that I am willing to sacrifice if necessary (for example, when you notice that I've parked a gate next to yours), and that implies enough money that I wouldn't care if you got one of my gates or destroyed it. That sounds like outright war, though, and there are simpler ways of attacking a gate than sending another gate after it, I think.

109:

Space Travel
Assuming that space travel is prevented by limited range, near Earth space would still be opened up by transporters. Space elevators would no longer be limited by travel time up and down, or by the mass limitations of cable crawlers (whose cabin / cargo space would probably be a lot smaller than 27 m3). To build an elevator, put a transporter in GEO and ship pieces of cable and other kit up to it, building the cable up and down from the transporter. Same for the end weight, so you don't have to wait for delivery of an asteroid.

Similarly, put a transporter in LEO and move it around to pick up junk. Transport the junk back to the surface, so there's no danger of falling toilets hitting people. Bonus benefit: materials scientists get tons of different metals and plastics to study that have been exposed to vacuum, SW ultraviolet, high-energy electrons and protons, and wide temperature swings for decades.

Supply Chains
This is going to be incredibly disruptive to existing supply chains. Even if FedEx and UPS figure out early on that they need to invest in transports and roll them into the chain as fast as possible before someone else eats their lunch, dinner, and legs, changing standard delivery times from days or weeks to minutes or hours will mean massive reductions in the size of the pipelines (and massive increases in the risk of cascade failures when a black swan like a flood, earthquake, or act of war bites the system). I'm betting a large part of the container industry would go away, with the exception of bulk cargoes like grain or oil. And the supply chains would end up far more distributed than they are now, since centralization is a function of the use of air freight and high-speed highways and the economies of scale of centralized vehicle maintenance and fulfillment systems. Switched transporter networks would allow the equivalent of a large warehouse' floor space to be distributed over any geographic area, so placement would be more controlled by space availability, space cost, energy availability, etc.

110:

East Kilbride has 8 international airports and can send a plane load of people to anywhere in world for about $200.

OK. I'll bite. Are you talking per person? If so that's not how it works. That's the limited seating buy it 2 months in advance we only have 2 seats allocated at that price. Or have I missed something?

111:

If conservation of energy applies, why would the system need to pump energy into a load that is going DOWN a gravity well? You should be able to extract energy out of it! Or, at the very least, you should be able to do paired transports of equal mass to cancel out the potential energy differences.

So once you had a transfer booth on the Moon, for instance, you could transfer people/things cheaply by matching a load of moon rocks (or the previous load of people in the case of tourism) to the new load. You would only have to pay the "lift cost" if you needed to transfer more material up-well than you had waste material to drop down-well.

Same technique would apply to any other transfer location, just transfer equal masses simultaneously and their potential energies cancel each other out.

112:

Similarly, put a transporter in LEO and move it around to pick up junk. Transport the junk back to the surface, so there's no danger of falling toilets hitting people.

Uh, matching the delta V of the junk is non trivial and way not cheap and not solved by this new widget.

113:

dibarker mentioned relevant Dr. McCoy quotes

Not that I'm of the original Star Trek generation or anything but McCoy frequently, in the books at least, sounded off about how the transporter was murder because what was materialised was simply a copy, and IIRC in the ST universe a copy that was distinguishable from the original (arguably a copy that's in-principle indistinguishable from the original is the original). And no-one mention the Heisenberg compensator's!

That said besides Niven (didn't he use icebergs to absorb the velocity difference energy?), I suppose a kind of halfway house transporter is the kind found in Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs series where (if you don't know) a recording of ones personality and memory is transmitted to a clone, artificial body, or simulation though in Broken Angels we do get a genuine teleport gateway of the Stargate kind as opposed to the Star Trek scan, dissolve, transmit and rebuild kind.

Mind you given that there's of the order of 7*10^27 atoms in a 70Kg human (Google said so...) I'd have a few reservations about using an ST type transporter given that a lot of people have a problem using a 1.5Mb video stream: leave now, arrive in a few thousand years. Though I suppose it'd be cheap travel in as much as you deposit 10 quid in the bank and when you materialise the interest pays for your trip.

Which is to say, I suppose, that I think Morgan's or Stargate type transporters are marginally more credible that ST type transporters. For a given value of credible...

114:

"I'm amazed no-one's mentioned Larry Niven's 1973 novella Flash Crowd yet: it features devices pretty much identical to what you're describing (teleportation booths as phone booths) and is basically an entertaining thought experiment into the security and social implications."

It's an odd blind spot in his (and many other SF authors') psych that he has teleport booths for flash crowds, but never thought of pocket phones achieving similar effects, even though authors at the time had seen colossal miniaturization in electronics.

115:

@ David L

Upthread are some cost estimates putting the cost per load at $20 per load. (IIRC)

Between 10-25 people per load depending on how you lay out the volume and how cozy they are prepared to be. So 8 x 10-25 is between 80 and 200 (a plane load) at 8 x $20 = $160 plus taxes.

That's the cost. The price would be affected by demand. In the short term.

116:

Security

There's an angle most of you are missing, because it's not compatible/intuitive with our current transport systems: the firewall.

Which is to say, if you're worried about insecure long-haul transmissions (say, across an international border), you don't go straight from city A to city B. Rather all, A-B transitions go from A to a secure location A', presumably inside a supermax fortress with blast pits around the teleport box. Any actinides explode at this point; any contents may be inspected under the guns of armed border guards. Only once the cargo is cleared is it then sent on its way from A' to B', the equivalent secure receiver in the destination country, for inbound security checks before release in the middle of city B.

You probably don't need this for short-haul domestic jumps, but it's likely to be mandatory at first for international travel between particularly paranoid nations (or nations with a large security-industrial complex that wants to guarantee continued employment -- cough TSA cough).

117:

"Mind you (James Nicoll will hate me) it might make Lunar He3 a viable energy source, if we can actually get to a working second-generation fusion cycle reactor."

By the point that we get practical fusion power, the Sun will have turned into a red giant :)

118:

@76:
One thing I don't think anyone's mentioned yet: the most likely players to get this whole thing started are governments.

--

They'd have the capital... but read up on the history of the various attempts to build a tunnel under the English Channel. Every time someone started getting money together, the whacktards would go all paranoid about Ye Virgin Isle being invaded by armies from France, Germany, or whatever country was the rabble-rouser poster child at the time. Apparently, being able to flood the tunnel and pump it out later wasn't good enough to keep England secure from the various wogs.

Public (and government, and corporate, and pressure group) opinion can be a powerful and frightening thing...

119:

The 3x3x3 limit means that containerized shipping will have to adapt - but maybe not too much. Current container sizes are already less than 3m in width and height, but they are quite a bit longer. So there will, at least, be a new standard size, basically compatible with the existing sizes. This will, in turn, affect the size of manufactured goods, to make sure that they fit in the new short containers, just as with existing containerization (for example, large items of machinery are often designed with container sizes in mind).

We could see smaller-sized cars becoming more popular, say - they would be cheaper to ship from factory to consumer, and most people would only need a car for local travel anyway. Other stuff in the home is already small enough, but there could be a new push for smaller industrial equipment. On the flip side, large consumer goods could become something of a status symbol. 5m of kitchen countertop doesn't fit in a booth. Or large pieces of artwork - if it's obvious that they're one solid chunk. Then comes the inevitable backlash against such ostentation.

If shipment of goods by booth is cheap and easy enough for most items, then we'd expect to see reduced use not only of cargo planes, but also of ships. They would only be needed for items that were too bulky or too radioactive to send by booth. That might include stuff like oil, if it's too much bother to divide a tanker-load into booth-sized containers. Good news for marine life, and for cable operators (fewer anchors to drop). Bad news for ship builders and cargo lines, and also for pirates. Probably not so bad for port operators: they already have all the cargo handling infrastructure, so a bustling port is a decent place to set up the booths anyway.

120:

Interesting question. How is continuity of consciousness handled? Is the new me that walks out of the gate the same me that walked into the gate? I might feel the same. Remember all the same things. Everyone who talks to me thinks I'm the same. But, am I just a perfect copy? This is reminiscent of the gholas from Frank Herbert's Dune series. When people died there. Their cells could be taken, grown and a new person is established. Their genetic memory is reactivated and to all the people around them they essentially become the original. But, there is no continuation from the dead person to the new person.

Imagine with a 3d printer. You call your sister and ask her to send you a treasured family heirloom. When it's done printing. It looks the same. But, is it the same? No. When I send a mp3. It's not the original; but, a perfect copy that is indistinguishable from the original.

121:

@87:
As mentioned in the Niven piece someone linked to, the output booth has to have nothing in it to start with, so whoever's manufacturing vacuum pumps makes money hand-over fist.

--

Just flush the gate to the one you have up in vacuum somewhere.

Hmm, there are still widespread commercial applications for vacuum...

122:
By the point that we get practical fusion power, the Sun will have turned into a red giant :)

I gather at the end commercial fusion will be available 50 years after the universe vanishes.

Still that said, if the gateway could be held open for an indefinite period of time given sufficient power we could (ignoring the distance limitation) put all our nuclear power stations on the moon and run a cable through the gateway, or better yet drop a gateway into the sun and use that as our fusion power plant (you have to admit it's an ecologically sound plan).

Mind you on nuclear power generally I have to agree with Einstein: "it's a hell of a way to boil water".

123:

I think Niven's best application of transfer technology was the glass with a transfer receiver embedded in it, so it never emptied.

124:

If such a device does come about I imagine there will be separate people vs. cargo terminations. And I can just imagine when some people get routed to a cargo point, the doors open, and the auto unloading system comes into the space.

125:

Another angle is waste disposal. The way it works now is predicated on getting the waste (which has little intrinsic value) far away from people. Certain kinds of recycling are limited by the fact that it's not cost-effective for a community to construct a facility to handle a small amount of specialized material, nor to ship it to a central location where the volumes are larger.

Cheap teleportation could make it worthwhile for waste to be transmitted, routinely, to large processing facilities - with a wide geographical catchment, located far away from population centres, and having much more broad sorting and processing capabilities than current recycling plants. No NIMBY worries when there are no neighbours. Other dirty industries could follow a similar model, come to think of it.

Alternatively, we just teleport all the waste to a giant global landfill and leave it there. Or, once we've set things up, to a lunar landfill - splitting environmentalists between the "preserve the sanctity of the moon" and "at least it's not on Earth" camps.

126:

Looking at what the model gives us that we don't currently have I'm seeing instantaneous and vibration free travel

Social implications:

It's the distributed living thing again, if it doesn't take us time to travel from A to B any more then we might as well go live in F where the weather's nicer and step through to B when we need to. No one would need to live in Slough any more?

Security implications:

Instantaneous travel cuts out warning and preparation time.

There are all kinds of interesting unstable reaction products that have never been weaponised because they don't travel well and can't be easily stored but a door on one side of a production facility linked to another at an angle on top of a midtown building might be doable?

Both:

International air travel already scares the pants off me if you combine it with human to human infectious diseases. A mature network of Macrohard Doors(tm)hands the planet to the roaches if we draw the short straw in the antigenic shift lottery.

127:

@113:
we do get a genuine teleport gateway of the Stargate kind as opposed to the Star Trek scan, dissolve, transmit and rebuild kind.

--

Charlie didn't specify, so I assumed something like the Stargate "wormhole" method, where there is only ever one object, which is somehow translated into a different spatial position.

BTW, on at least four episodes of Stargate, the gate worked by scanning objects and sending a data stream to the destination gate, which somehow built copies. It was a major continuity problem.

[I watched the DVD set; it was amazing how many alien planets looks like the woods around Vancouver, as opposed to a quarry in Wales.]

128:
Interesting question. How is continuity of consciousness handled?

I think that's key to the whole identity issue: if you experience the transition from one place to another with no discontinuity then arguably you're the same person you were.

But that said if in principle the you that stepped into the transmitter is indisguinshable from the you that emerges from the reciver then that us you. Worth taking a look here:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/identity-indiscernible/

129:

Well, all transportation becomes short-haul. With the exception of some specialized or large-size transportation systems everything is teleportation to/from the homes and businesses. Interstate highways fall into disrepair except around some large metro areas where they're used for routine transportation. Some smaller towns in the countryside without teleport booths essentially vanish. Cities attract more people.

Cities tend to spread east-west as that's energetically easier. Short-haul transportation tends to go further in the north-south directions as a result.

With all transportation becoming short-haul, then airlines, trunk lines, railways, etc may economically fail. But some JIT manufacturing may still persist with airlines, rail, and shipping. It may be cheaper to take the time if you can pipeline the goods. The economic structure changes radically - we're an oil-based economy now and much of that is used in transportation. Transportation becomes a fixed cost, not variable with distance anymore. This removed oil costs from product costs now. This is massive, I can't see the size of this change alone.

Teleportation stations become real estate magnets like metro/tube stations are now. Signs go up near them, "If you lived here you'd be home by now!". People start to commute across oceans and continents to go to work. Governments, which are physically based, fall further behind the technology curve. Lawmakers and politicians react badly and try to roll back the tide as usual. Some countries get security paranoid, some roll with it. Parts of the USA become even more isolationist than they are now. The upside is that the other parts of the USA get more aware of issues outside our borders finally.

Illegal immigration ramps up significantly. But more importantly country residency gets confused. Tax issues are common: is a person who only sleeps in one country a resident? He/she spends their working hours in a second country, and their off hours with their friends in a third? Where do they live? Converting money gets to be a problem, it's the reason the euro got created all over again at a much larger scale.

Some downsides can be seen in the history of the 1900's. That century started out were most people travelled only as far as they could by horse or foot. Then at the end of the century people travelled to other continents for a two week vacation. Travelers were special initially, travelers were tourists and potentially annoying at the end. People start to learn more languages.

All disease is local with teleportation. Got an ebola outbreak in central Africa? It's now in Paris, London, and New York and everywhere else too. Got an invasive plant or animal? Everything's invasive in the wrong ecosystem somewhere. Natural barriers disappear, or at least drop significantly.

130:

@109:
Even if FedEx and UPS figure out early on that they need to invest in transports and roll them into the chain as fast as possible

--

And which non-governmental organization could go on a spending spree at only 40m per gate?

"Tired of airport hassle? Train too slow? Travel by Amazon.com!"

There'd probably be an Amazon terminal within easy travel distance of most people. After all, the first thing they'd do is start dropping gates everywhere they could, so they could take in all that potential profit they're pissing away on Fedex, UPS, et.al. And they wouldn't even need their own warehouses if they put gates in the warehouses of their larger suppliers.

131:

I believe security would increase dramatically in the near future. Planes can go anywhere, whearas a teleporter would have a fixed point of arrival. At that cost they would be low-volume enough and specialist production-wise to regulate competently. You could ban all air traffic barring the odd helicopter for emergency services.

Long term, that sort of reliance leads to a reduction in air defense making the country as a whole more vulnerable, so on a nationwide/war level - not good.

132:

Maybe you don't have to match velocities. If your control is good enough and transport can be enabled in less than a microsecond you can just leave one end of the transmitter in orbit open and let things run into it. You'll need a hillside or a hole in the ground full of water at the receiving end to stop the incoming mass. Water might let you recover some of the object, albeit somewhat squashed; running into the ground at 5 or 6 km/sec is probably going to vaporize most things.

133:

@129:
Cities tend to spread east-west as that's energetically easier. Short-haul transportation tends to go further in the north-south directions as a result.

--

Of course, if you're translating from one latitude to the equivalent latitude in the other hemisphere your velocities are the same, so there's no momentum problem.

Unfortunately, it might work for a slice of the east coast of North America and the west coast of South America, and northern and southern portions of South America and Africa. Not only is most of the land on one side of the planet, the bulk of it is in the northern part. So maybe it's not such a big deal.

134:

[I watched the DVD set; it was amazing how many alien planets looks like the woods around Vancouver, as opposed to a quarry in Wales.]

And had 24 hour days with synchronized with Denver.

And how widespread NA midwestern English was.

135:

If a gate is only 40m - doesn't matter if it's pounds or dollars - given how much some buildings cost, the cost is low enough that, say, your child's elementary school could have one of its own.

Sound crazy? Los Angeles' RFK Community School cost US$578m, Ed Roybal Learning Center cost $377m, and #9 Visual & Performing Arts High School was $232m. Those are public schools, not Ivy League colleges.

That also seems to be in the ballpark price range for new office buildings and shopping malls.

136:

Assume for argument that we can drop transmitters into the sun's photosphere and have them transmit high-velocity plasma to Earth and survive that environment. Now set up receivers all around the equator of Earth with their chambers open to the zenith. By timing the bursts of plasma that we send up into space from Earth we can push the planet into a larger solar orbit, cutting down insolation and solving the climate change problem. Of course it will take awhile, but we might at least have the time that way.

137:

Of course, if you're translating from one latitude to the equivalent latitude in the other hemisphere your velocities are the same, so there's no momentum problem.

Vaguely remembering my dynamics, I think you'd have two velocity vectors in opposite directions of fairly large magnitudes whose origins are about 8000 miles apart.

Same magnitudes but with different signs. Assuming the center of the earth as the reference point.

138:

@132:
Maybe you don't have to match velocities.

--

For some reason I was thinking of braking the load on the receiving end, but you could accelerate it on the sending end just as easily.

A 3g catapult launch into an empty box might be hard on the nerves. Best not put any windows in the transport pod...

You'd also have to deal with the possibility of having the receiving gate go offline between launch and translation. A 1,400mph impact for some long-distance cargo might get ugly.

139:

With absolutely no unintended consequences. Right?

140:

@137:
Same magnitudes but with different signs. Assuming the center of the earth as the reference point.

--

opposite latitude = north/south, not east/west

Think Spain vs. Central Africa.

141:

Put another way. I saw a Manhatten apartment for sale today for $5m.

Assuming 100 such apartments in the building the retail price of the building is $500m. Adding a $40m booth adds a bit less than 10% to the cost of the building.

So very rich people have them in their basements.

142:

Actually, you don't even need to go to the lunar surface (though it might be cheaper given momentum conservation). One of the Lagrange points might be better. The energy to get there might be non-trivial, but from there to anywhere else should be quite cheap. You didn't mention relativity constraints...given your general tendencies I'll presume that there's a speed of light factor that prevents problems there. Is there a distance limit? With a speed of light limitation, handshaking becomes problematical over a long distance.

I'd think that it WOULD open up the solar system, though quite probably not immediately.

OTOH, my thought about immediate effects is a greatly increased amount of effort being put into robot soldiers of various kinds, and also into biological warfare. (When you push nuclear down, other things pop up.)

FWIW, my feeling is that our current limitation on the security force intrusions into normal life is mainly that they don't want to disrupt the economy. This would only affect things to the extent that the economy became more resilient. (Which might well happen, as significant goods shipment would no longer be dependent upon roadways, etc.) The railroads (I'm in the US) might once again consider passenger traffic as worth bothering with. (How much really heavy good need to be transported? Not coal, which is in small pieces, or steel rods shorter than the critical length, etc.) Even trucks would be much reduced in need--only needed for things that are dispersed in destination or source, or too large.

Also, things would start being designed to be disassembled into pieces that would fit through the transporter...and then easily reassembled. And trade between equipotential points would increase.

A large part of this, of course, depends on the cost of use. If it's too expensive, lots of these wouldn't happen.

144:

Never mind.

145:

It appears in both Grey Lensman and Second Stage Lensman...with lots of cautions about the limits which the human body can tolerate in both places.

In Grey Lensman it's a human body that's being "inerted", and the problem is not to be away from the Earth's surface too long. In Second Stage Lensman it's Clarissa's Lens, which has the momentum of Arisia, and Kinnison's space ship which has the momentum of a totally different planet, in a much different part of the galaxy. I found the second one far less believable, as I think the difference in "intrinsic inertial" would be unreasonably large.

FWIW, he could have redeemed the plausibility, at the cost of increased complexity, if he'd retained the Nevian's "partial neutralization of inertia" from Triplanetary.

In all events, I think that conservation of inertia is a major problem when you get off of a planetary surface. But perhaps if the receiver is in freefall it can be rotated so that the item being received has a clear path. Then all you need to do is retrieve it.

146:

Considering there's a copy of Glasshouse on my desk where such a set up was written by you I could kick myself that I didn't remember it!

147:

If the teleportation process is converting matter to energy and back again, then couldn't you subtract the excess energy from angular momentum at the receiving end? Shunt the excess energy into a battery where it can be stored and then be used to power the next jaunt, thus subsidizing the energy cost. Economics of scale then comes into play. Some locals would receive more people than they send, thus acquiring a surplus of energy, which could be redistributed to places where the sending outstrips the receiving. If balanced right, your energy expenditure would be only marginally above the surplus, which would drastically lower the cost of use and maintenance.

148:

Just feed hydrogen from one of Saturn's moons into the teleport and it comes out Earthside at better than 25 km/s - all energy problems solved.

149:

Depending on your assumptions I think you can move between 270 & 1,500 per hour in on unit. A typical tube train holds circa 900 people & can run 20 per hour.

You *perhaps* struggle to replace the Tube with these.

150:

Alfred Bester covered something similar in "The Stars my Destination".

151:

Not exactly ...

152:

Well, if you can commit a crime in France and go to bed in England, you may have a small problem. If this is normal, you may have a large problem. Still, there are no real lenses.

I think what I want is to move electrons around at very high voltage, so I can transfer power too. Then we have interstellar probes that we can power from earth.

153:

Taxation, law and transfer of money is going to be an interesting one in such a set up. If an area becomes attractive for international-commuters (intercoms?) then the money earned will keep flowing not only out of the area but out of the country.

154:
If so, put a transmitter on the moon and transport moonrock to Earth. You get about 10 MJ per kilo, or about 100 GJ per load. Do that every couple of minutes and you get a 1 GW power station, with inert rock as the only waste product. Obviously the infrastructure is a pain to set up and maintain, but way less than it would be without the gate.

This. Surprisingly, the cheap energy angle was never mentioned in the original Theory and Practice of Teleportation. More surprisingly, it didn't show up in the first 100 comments. Niven can be forgiven for missing it, as he probably operated under the unconscious assumption that we'd have cheap fusion Real Soon Now.

But cheap, nonpolluting energy really is the application (as opposed to light speed travel) in our hypothetical 21st century timeline, and gets us back on track to that Disney future where you can gas runs $0.13/gal at the pump.

If you wanted to add some dramatic tension to a story using this idea, the cheapo way to extract energy would be have the links here on Earth, but positioned at significantly different longitudes. Then the energy comes out of the Earth's rotation. Oddly enough, it turns out that while the amount of energy you can extract this way is really large, it's not all that large. Operate this for just a couple of centuries with everyone having the energy budget associated with first world lifestyles and days become significantly longer. The matter is addressed in the U.N., but of course compliance to established international guidelines (just like with carbon emissions) is spotty at best . . .

155:

Instead of shock absorbers, have the teleporters swap matter. You step into the chamber, get weighed, matched up against the payload in the other chamber, and whoever is lighter has a big bottle of water containing the needed amount of mass added to the chamber. Then you wind up with premium teleport customers paying extra to go where they want to right now and others waiting for a sufficient mass to accumulate at the far end to do a cheaper swap.

156:

If the teleportation process is converting matter to energy and back again, then couldn't you subtract the excess energy from angular momentum at the receiving end? Shunt the excess energy into a battery where it can be stored and then be used to power the next jaunt, thus subsidizing the energy cost. Economics of scale then comes into play. Some locals would receive more people than they send, thus acquiring a surplus of energy, which could be redistributed to places where the sending outstrips the receiving. If balanced right, your energy expenditure would be only marginally above the surplus, which would drastically lower the cost of use and maintenance.

You've been reading Neal Asher haven't you?

Quite apart from the special unobtanium you'ld need to to contain and transmit the mass-energy equivalent to a hundred odd kilos of matter -- about 1e19J; a quantity within an order-of-magnitude-or-so of the current total global energy consumption per year -- think of the possibilities for accident or sabotage. Release all that energy at once, and it will outdo any feasible nuclear device. We're talking a global extinction level event here, like the K-T boundary asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs...

If you can cope with that sort of energy flux, then a trivial thing like a 200m/s delta-V or injecting a few MW into that 100Kg of (mostly) water due to changes in gravitational p.e. should be pretty simple to deal with in comparison.

157:

You like to live in a city, and a lot of people in Europe like to live in a city.

In North America (and a few other parts of the world) you have a lot of people who prefer to live out in the countryside or, failing that, in nice green suburbs with lots of room.

You set the jump gate price at 40 million. This is incredibly cheap compared to highway-building and the usage costs are low compared to highway maintenance.

40 million can pay for a mile of highway in an urban area or 5 miles in a rural area. That's not much.

http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,1607,7-151-14013-28076--F,00.html

The jump gates you defined make it easier to have even bigger, wider more far-out suburbs. People who were forced to live in cities but didn't like it(like I used to) can now get affordable lands and homes anywhere out in nature.

Places like New York and Chicago have a critical mass of citizens who actually like to live in the city, so they'll survive. They'll even thrive. Other cities will die.

So instead of rewilding suburbs you'll have a rewilding of abandoned cities in North America and a few other places around the globe where people are currently forced to live in cities but would rather be out in suburbs.

158:

I like the idea of mounting one in a plane or seagoing vessel, but you're going to drop in 27m^3 fuel containers on a regular basis to make it work. That or fly a reactor in with it. Of course if its a seagoing vessel, then it travels with the reactor.

Someone later one mentioned aircraft carriers. What about submarines? These things would make subs even nastier. They could lurk and resupply without surfacing for years - even the diesel ones. And since they're carrying the missiles in the silos, they don't have to worry about the radioactives issue. Which means submarines have the potential to be one of the nastier first and second strike weapons available.

159:

Sneakernet just became a lot more effective. Provided you have funding and secure bases of operation (e.g. embassies), the distribution of keys / one-time pads potentially just got a *lot* easier.

For latency-insensitive applications, the use of boundary filters at the edges of nation-states to monitor communications may have just become ineffective.

(These two combine to potentially with tools like Tor to make listening posts like those operated by GCHQ less effective -- or at least force them to move to a model whereby they compromise end-user machines rather than simply monitor public communications.)

Controlling illegal immigration just became (more of) an economic problem rather than a physical security one.

Assuming you can find a sufficient source of energy, this'd be a highly-effective means of deploying mass outside of the gravity well. Forget the failure modes and material challenges of a space elevator, just stick one end on the ISS and start building out your orbital infrastructure.

(The first people to do this will suddenly find it very easy to drop kinetic bombs on people they don't like.)

Second- and third-order effects from property value crashes resulting from the sudden drop in value of real-estate, owing to the fact that commuting time is now a function of distance from a comms-booth, not distance from your place-of-business. Depending on the energy costs of operation, proximity to sources of power is likely to become a more significant factor.

The UK train companies finally have competition other than the airlines; fares drop and passenger-experience metrics increase, respectively.

Just-in-time delivery logistics possibly become accessible to all, not just the large data-driven firms.

Epidemiology just became much harder.

161:

I see Jonathan vos POst has mentioned Brunner's "Web of Everywhere".

Spoiler alert!*

The downsides of teleportation being that if uninvited people got the number of your home teleporter, they could teleport in and steal your stuff or kill you. And communciable diseases would spread worldwide within hours, not days, so he imagined a world in which lots of people had died from them. And the codes to waste disposal teleportation were expensive to buy because of the oversight needed to make sure you weren't dumping murdered people that way.
So security of the transportation nodes or whatever you want to call them is important.

162:

Absolutely! What could possibly go wrong?

Well, suppose somebody spotted us moving planets around and came visiting?
"Planets. Seven of them.Armed and powered as only a planet can be
armed and powered; with fixed-mount weapons impossible of
mounting upon a lesser mobile base, with fixed-mount intakes and
generators which only planetary resources could excite or feed."

163:

At some particular range/cost/load point, electric Smart cars become inter-city cars.

164:

WARNING: LONG TL;DR fest approaching! Possibly Dubious Maths May Also Be Present! Math Nerds Of A Sensitive Nature Might Be Better Scrolling Down To The Next Comment Just To Be Safe!

Anyway, hmm... It's interesting how the conversation seems to have subdivided itself so that the people mentioning the difference in momentum and the people talking about security issues aren't talking about how momentum constrains the security.

First off, bear in mind that rotational velocity of an object on the earth's surface near the equator is on the order of a 1,000 kM/s [yes, that says a thousand kilometres per second], so moving from one antipode to another via these gates would require the cargo to undergo at least 2,000 km/s because you're moving 1 MegaM/s spinward relative to the entry gate and the exit gate is moving 1 MegaM/s widdershin relative to the entry gate.

So antipode-to-antipode travel is problematic without an intertial damper (though oddly enough it should be able to produce some kind of effective space launcher from this, earthbound gate to geosync gatesatellite above the entry gate's antipode imparts a very useful amount of deltaV while also negating the surface-to-orbit problem).

And while Antipode-Antipode Travel (AP2T) is an extreme (and pointless to think about given that most antipodes come out over water on one side or the other, I'm pretty sure that even if you were only travelling 90° around the earth rather than a full 180°, you'd still either be slamming into the ground or ceiling of the gate at 1 MegaM/s, because the relative velocity isn't the problem so much as the vector of the velocity when travelling along latitudes, so London to New York in a single jaunt is not survivable.

Furthermore, this affects longitudal travel as well, because a straight jaunt from nigeria to the geographical north pole also means that the jaunter arrives travelling sideways into the Polar gate's walls at 1 MegaM/s because now the polar gate is travelling too slowly, so again while longitudal travel suffers less of a problem with relative velocity than latitudal travel does, it's not entirely negated and still requires smaller jaunts to get from A to B as you trade up and down relative velocity and shift your vector incrementally to match that of your eventual destination.

On the other hand, the experience of having to make lots of changes mid route is what most people commuting to work in London experience, and in fact means you can actually seamlessly marry an intracity transport network to an intercity network to an international network much more seamlessly if you ignore the whole national border problem (which we've seen actually be negated in the case of intra-EuroZone travel in real life laregly due to pressure from Germany who wanted to make it easier to export german goods to the rest of the Euro-Zone, so China, India, the US, the UK, Germany and other countries with strong export driven markets would feel economic pressure to enable such an international jaunting network).

The security issue then hits in that you'd probably end up with a situation where either access to even intra-inter-city jaunting networks would require full blown international airport style security theatre, or at least need to provide full biometric passports and a largely unmanned host of IDing gates/drug/bomb sniffer gates/full body scanners with automated IR systems that flag people for harassment from security looking on from CCTV, without each passenger having to go through the same degree of personalised assessment that airports put people through, and it's only at the international jaunt gates that you start to have full bore airport style security.

And you don't need much more than that really - presumably you'd have some sort of UN/NATO/WTO agreed upon Jaunt-Gate-Security-Standard, which would include assessment not only of a country's security theatre is up to spec, but also the general threatdown of specific cities and those cities' inter-city white lists, compliance with which would ensure your country would get your major jaunt hubs added into the UN/NATO/WTO's Globaljauntnet whitelist.

So putting that together, let's sketch out a possible journey from outer London to New York given that my reasoning so far is reasonable:

You wake up in Tottenham, London, bus/walk down to Seven Sisters Station, where TNT based medication you take for hypertension sets off one of the bomb sniffer gates when jostling in your bag accidentally opens the lid. After getting a pat down, and your bag searched and you provide security with the prescription you carry around with you to deal with this problem, you then jaunt up to Manchester Picadilly Station, Manchester, then onto Glasgow Central Station, then to Iceland via two more stations in first the hebrides and then faroe islands, jaunt across iceland in 2 jaunts, then across the gap between Iceland and green land via 3 gates situated on either mobile or fixed oilrig-like-sea-platforms (who these platforms are owned by is a good question, either the most local national government or some international agency I'd suspect), through a 4 jaunts across greenland into canada, where a half dozen more jaunts get you to toronto, where you can then jaunt to the specific and technically unnecessary border jaunt location in New York that requires you pass through the full security theatre rigmarole before you could then take an intercity jaunt to New York City proper.

22 jaunts in total, let's say 5 minutes minimum for each jaunt, a further (wildly optimistic, but assuming time and labour saving technologies exist to speed up international security theatre) 20 minute for the 4 international jaunts, plus 30 minutes for the security flag at Seven Sisters, gives you a net time of 3 hours 40 minutes journey time for a single passenger on foot with minimal security arousing baggage.

Compare with more than 7 hour journey times for plane based international flights from london-New York, and you can do it with a larger through put of freight than you can with air travel... further factor in the damn near 100% fuel savings for commercial freight (shifted off onto national governments who have to power the gates admittedly, but for commercial trade that's not important) and that's quite an incentive for governments to do what ever is necessary to get their cities onto the UN/NATO/WTO's whitelist - which also means that contorting to security theatre and international ID standards would become one of those things a country has to do to play at the level of the major world powers.

Bonus as well: most nations could probably fund their networks just from charging freight traffic for the privilege, freight traffic being what initially powered the economics of the railway boom, and the disappearance of which due to the emergence of lorry and truck freight being what makes railtravel so unprofitable in the UK (so expect an initial "Jaunting Boom" to exist in the early adopters). You'd also have an effect that countries that are on the whitelist, and thus have freight going through them, can easily afford to build into the network, while countries not on the whitelist, and thus who are being routed around by most commercial freight, will have to pump money into an unprofitable jaunting network and hope that when they get whitelisted then enough traffic will shift through to make it profitable... but if that shift happens it will also cause a "Jaunting Bust" through loss of revenue, say china shifts its freight through turkey, germany, UK, Ice/Greenland, Canada, US, then Russia gets whitelisted and China can circumvent europe entirely by going through russia, into alaska, through Canada again, you'd see a major economic recession in Europe due to the loss of chinese/japanese jaunting revenue.

And that's assuming nothing really wild happens, take those ocean jaunting platforms I briefly mentioned: There's no reason they absolutely have to be located on the surface except that underwater cities are kind of hard to make given current engineering knowledge and experience - but you'd be able to justify a string of ocean floor cities across the pacific and atlantic with a jaunting network in your skiffy setting, because they'd be worth their cost due to jaunting tariffs, and wouldn't suffer from the problems caused by typhoons, hurricanes and weather (while suffering other problems of equal or greater magnitude of course, ones that do not currently have solutions).

What else am I missing?

165:

...And yes I've just noticed that I've confused seconds and hours for the first 18 million paragraphs. fuckity urgh.

Still, a london to new york jaunt involves you smacking into the floor of the new york booth at around about the speed of sound, which would not be fun, so smaller jaunts would be neccesary, and that you can fit in 22 smaller jaunts and still more than halve the travel time over planes is very very impressive in its own right, divide 22 by three and triple the time taken up by security theatre for all jaunting to the level common in international flights since 9/11, and you'd still be winning. The difference in a more mathematically correct scenario from my mathtarded example is that you have a smaller handful of international hubs sucking up most of the jaunting money, so a new hub opening up that replaces even just one of those old hubs would probably kick off at least a minor "local" recession, if not a global one is it's say london or berlin being displaced by one in Moscow.

166:

Ok, different security problem: immortality.

Build something very close to Vernor Vinge's bobbles by putting a unit out in deep space. I think you could bootstrap this once you had a unit in orbit, by firing through an assembly crew and a disassembled unit. They assemble it and return home, leaving a "space ship" unit. Eventually you have a send and immediate return loop that takes an appreciable amount of time. During which you get a relativity-esque no-aging period.

If you're a billionaire who doesn't want to retire/die, this would be very attractive, and spending a hundred million or so to set it up would be affordable. I suspect there would be a few of these and they would be very, very secret. If someone asked me to be part of the assembly crew I would run away and hide.

167:

> it can transport you from A to B at the speed of light, without physically intersecting with anything in-between.
> It's a switched network, like the old-fashioned phone system, i.e. any transmitter can talk to any other receiver

If no time passes for the recipient, it's suspended animation.

If time does pass, we have to define what the person would experience as they fly through the ether. This version would essentially allow escape-proof prisons.

Also, are gates keyed to one sender and one recipient? If not, you have the concept of spoofing and spamming. If yes, then it would become interesting to steal one - possible story title "one of our gates is missing!"

The without physically intersecting with anything in between bit: walls become redundant. Who's to say that the next military base the Iranians build won't have a secret transmitter built into the wall, ready to be turned on whenever someone wants. Or a flashmob could each carrying a piece of a gate and assemble it somewhere at a moment's notice.

Finally, this has the potential to destroy all other forms of long-range travel. Hence to create a monoculture. And that makes it hugely vulnerable.

168:

1) the mega-rich will have off-net estates where the last 30 miles need a boat or car


2) as others have said, if momentum is conserved, you can't go more than about 150 miles without risking breaking legs. And if not you can make a perpetual motion machine.

3) if its a wormhole/gate fine. If its destroy your body and build a new one millions of us won't use them cos we don't want to die and be replaced by a twin. But that can't happen cos the amount of infirmation you need to transmit to exactly reproduce a human, or any other live thing, is quantum impossible. (or rather so unlikely it won't happen)

4) when the Americans (or whoever) attack some place they start by airdropping a teleport booth.

169:

I like the idea of mounting one in a plane or seagoing vessel, but you're going to drop in 27m^3 fuel containers on a regular basis to make it work.

I think you misunderstood the suggestion. The plane (or whatever vehicle big enough for the teleporter) would go to where a booth was needed. Then the crew opens up the doors and starts popping through cargo. This works as well for evacuating refugees as it does for inserting troops or delivering FedEx packages somewhere that doesn't yet merit its own teleport hub.

The other, likely military, use is to actually use the teleporter while in motion. You go high up and then power dive so that your vector matches that of the teleport booth you need to reach. Most people would never need to extend the range with stunts like this; every so often, crazy stuff like this is useful.

170:

What I find interesting are the assumptions that major security apparatus will still exist at stations. The big reason for the start of the TSA-style security was the "take-me-to-Cuba" hijackings which occurred in the US and elsewhere. Scanning for weapons made that more difficult. Thus the time and cost of dealing with an airplane hijacking warranted extra security measures. The new security measures are based on the idea that you can use an airplane as a weapon itself. Given our example and constraints, the only way this becomes an issue is for suicide bombers who can accumulate enough trans-uranium material to be dangerous on the receiving end.

Thus, using one of these transporters is more like taking the bus. Buy a ticket, wait, get into cramped spaces with smelly people, get out, done. There's no point in a hijacking. If you want to go somewhere else ... just buy the ticket. It's probably cheaper than a gun to hold someone hostage. Want to take people hostage to free your compatriots out of prison? Take a donut shop hostage. Just as many people *and* you have food to last you while you wait it out.

Our host's suggestion of transporting from A to B' to B so that the receiving side can have a secure site to deal with suicide bombers is a good one, but no likely needed except for transport between 1st world nations and "them terrorist countries". This is only really good for independent actors, however. Even now, large-scale inter-state warfare is pretty useless. Just about any state-sponsored attack can be responded to immediately and with severe devastation.

Trey @158 gave me a great thought: nuclear-armed submarines can now simply be a vehicle with ~8 launch tubes and a huge locker full of nuclear warheads. You can get new missile sections through the teleporter and assemble inside the submarine. Still, I think this is offset by the fact that even today the US is reducing its count and deployment of nuclear arms.

171:

I'm seeing a few things which Charlie pretty much addressed in his original proposal but which aren't getting much attention.

It's a booth not a portal. Damn, but people love to play with teleportation portals. Wormholes are about as plausible a way to do this as any, but they're not what our host asked about. The booth is described as like an elevator, which works: it moves a volume from A to B as a unit, rather than allowing continuous transfer like a door. To minimize the kinetic transfer antics, just assume that the booth does indeed need to be a booth, with a standard sized continuous surface surrounding the contents. Proposals for mismatched vector teleports should note that the booth will need repairs afterward - minimizing but maybe not eliminating them.

As to the object identity question, it should be clear that this is not a disassembly scheme. (That would lead to replicators, among other things, which is not at all the same discussion.) Assume there's some scientific handwave and the word "quantum" and everything booth A just appears in B - never B, C and D, and we hope it arrives at B; maybe it can't leave A at all until B is ready for it.

Some of the barriers wouldn't be political. There's no reason that the same standard must be adopted immediately by everyone. Booths should be of the same size - but the British Portways standard (a 2.9m cube) might not match the iBooth (something odd in inches) and so on. Various groups may find it advantageous to use nonstandard sizes. Frex, the Chinese military might choose to use something that didn't play with anyone else's booths but came with a simple adapter letting them do so when they felt like it.

Long distance travel may not be affected as much as people think. Airline travel isn't that much slower over thousands of kilometers if you let TSA style organizations inspect everyone trying to use a booth (particularly if somebody's budget enhancement plan puts security at every booth). And getting around the neighborhood is for feet or bikes. It's the midrange travel, where cars shine now, that gets really hit; if the practical single-hop range tops out at 150-200km, that's fine. Most cities are not that far from other towns and cities, and once you teleport into the right neighborhood you'll be within walking distance of your favorite pub. Expect taxis around the neighborhood teleport stations.

If you go for the 'matching masses' patch, though, no problem; if the booths just swap masses (within foo percent) of each other, then everything can arrive at rest and you can damn well teleport from London to Perth if you feel like it.

172:

Charlie @ 116: is it going to be possible to firewall these things, from the perspective of governments at least?

We have security around the similar priced airliners because those have to land and take off from a very limited number of locations. Even the private bizjet owners can't escape that.

Presumably a bank or major corporation that installs one of these booths in the basement will have its own form security, but bhe government may not even know about it.

173:

People have speculated about this thing being a vector for the Big Pandemic. If we can handwave and say that transuranics will be excluded, and that this thing is sophisticated enough to build you a fresh new body nearly instantly upon arrival, why can't it be programmed to exclude pathogens?

Antibiotics will become obsolete, at least in communities near one of these[1]. You get sick with something your immune system can't stop, you make a day trip somewhere. Life expectancy rises, birth rates in wealthy countries dip a bit more.

[1] making assumptions about the benevolence of the local government and/or whomever owns the local station.

174:

Matching masses has to be the only way this could possibly work. Any solution that could potentially make the traveler go *splat* ... well, what happens when the bad guys of your choice (North Korea / Soviet Russia / Fascist America / Denmark) sends a roomful of rock to a receiver in your home town from, say, a transmitter on a moon in orbit around Jupiter?

And swapping obviously means no in-flight sending up more reaction mass to interstellar probes either. The colonies on Mars just got a lot more plausible though..

But if we're going that route, it might be interesting to go all the way; maybe a works-in-the-lab implementation, something where you have to match the masses to "physics-plausible" levels. That is, close enough that Heisenberg gets to wave a magic wand so that the difference is overlooked by Nature. (Well, "plausible" as long as nobody looks very closely, I guess.)

175:

Let's get more specific and say "no actinide transition series unstable isotopes -- shove 'em through a teleporter and they decay immediately".

Spectacular! Dilute thorium or uranium in a molten salt and send the vessel to an adjacent receiver to immediately convert the actinide to radium and reap all energy from intermediate steps in the decay chain. It isn't as energetic as fission, but still orders of magnitude better than chemical fuels. You don't need to do isotopic enrichment or breeding, so the overall ratio of ore mined:power produced is still better than with once-through fission fuel cycles. There's no critical mass to worry about or neutrons to shepherd. There's no danger of nuclear weapons proliferation.

If you stick to the thorium version, the longest delay in the chain to stability is radium-228 with a 5.75 year half life. Everything else in the decay chain has a fleeting half life or can be converted to such by one more teleportation.

A send/receive pair of teleporters is only $80 million, cheap compared to nuclear reactors. If only 10 cubic meters of the total transmit volume are actually filled with molten salts, that is still tens of tons of thermal mass. I will leave it to others to figure out how to engineer the containment vessel/heat exchanger apparatus for repeated connect/disconnect cycles from the rest of the power plant.

If you want a doomsday weapon, build a pair of teleporters and fill one entirely with 27 cubic meters (515.7 tons) of depleted or natural uranium. When you initiate the teleport, the receiver gets a 931 megaton* explosion spewing 490 tons of superheated radium 226 into the atmosphere, blanketing the globe with a dangerous alpha emitter.

*Math is as follows: 18.64 MeV released by decay steps between uranium 238 and radium 226; everything in that chain is an actinide and gets converted all at once. Multiply decay energy per nucleon by number of nucleons in 515.7 megagrams of uranium. Finally convert to megatons.

176:

If actinide series elements decay immediately, that would include the ~0.1mg of uranium in a typical human. Does it
fission? 20x10^12 joules/kg uranium (both numbers from
Emsleys' "Nature's Building Blocks" - so 20x10^5 joules/human.
For a 100 kg human, 20x10^3 joules/kg(flesh), or Grays,
say 4000 times the LD50? If it just decays, that is less
energetic, but only by a factor of 10 or so.

177:

"1. While this tech collapses all urban areas into one planetary super-city, it's not going to have much effect on (a) rural areas, (b) suburbs and exurbs, (c) people living in underdeveloped nations outside of cities."

Would on the rural/small town/small city/exurban area I grew up in. Ulster County NY's economy includes factories, tourism, summer homes, farming, art colonies (Woodstock being the best known.) There are people who commute to NYC.

178:

1) the mega-rich will have off-net estates where the last 30 miles need a boat or car

Which is where we were a little over 100 years ago. There were/are at least 2 of these in North Carolina. One, The Biltmore, is a major tourist attraction these days. The other is a huge (as in huge) tract near Fort Bragg with several mansions spread about it that was recently given or sold to the feds.

Used to be you had to take a train over private spur lines to the edge of these places then horses or cars for a while to get to a building.

Vanderbilts or Rockefellers. Not sure which.

179:

If I could afford it, I'd go grocery shopping in other areas. To begin with, I like birch beer -- a soda flavor which is only available in the Twin Cities in a toned-down version.

It might be cheaper for me to shop in Chicago than in Minneapolis; and various ethnic breads are more available in Chicago. I could shop for citrus fruit in California, Florida, or Hawaii. And if crossing borders isn't too difficult, I could buy my meat in Buenos Aires.

180:

1) the mega-rich will have off-net estates where the last 30 miles need a boat or car

Which is where we were a little over 100 years ago. There were/are at least 2 of these in North Carolina. One, The Biltmore, is a major tourist attraction these days. The other is a huge (as in incredibly huge) tract near Fort Bragg with several mansions spread about it that was recently given or sold to the feds.

Used to be you had to take a train over private spur lines to the edge of these places then horses or cars for a while to get to a building.

Vanderbilts and/or Rockefellers. Not sure which.

181:

There's going to be some orbit or temporary spatial locations where the energy cost isn't too exorbitant. Once you get one of these there and start shipping some large telescopes out, you can start doing very, very long baseline interferometry, get good images of other planets and maybe answer the question of where the aliens are.

182:

There are plenty of bad substances that approach the nastiness of nuclear weapons. Biologicals are classic. Even a big bladder of something really caustic can ruin your whole day.

So: Fanatically secure protocols and ceremonies for verifying what's in the transmitter.

Societal change: We can't totally strip down passengers for an eight hour plane ride, but we could have them strip for a twenty second transit.

[Side note: The ability to send petabytes of data in a few seconds, by loading up a backpack with hard drives, may have interesting implications on networking protocols.]

183:

Waste management becomes interesting as toxics can be disposed of more easily, reducing pollution by dumping. [Joe Soprano has to find a new business].

In the other direction, some resource extraction might be a lot easier - mines and fossil fuel reservoirs could be accessed more easily. Products could be sent to the power station/processing plant directly, so pipeline operators go bust.

It might be possible to mine gas giants for fossil fuel energy and return CO2 for disposal. Depends on whether the energy differentials can be minimized to make sense of the value of compressed/liquid gases.

Security - how do you secure the destination to make sure that a malicious agent doesn't change your destination to the Marianas Trench? Or a shipment isn't explosive [even simple extremely compressed gases exposed to 1 bar on delivery)?

What happens if the network crashes - do objects in transit/scanning get lost permanently, or are they buffered in some way?

If the booth transmits an object with large kinetic differential (e.g. equator to London/NY, can the kinetic damper be overridden to allow an object to exit with the kinetic differential? What about LEO to ground - 5 km/s?

Military logistics - doesn't it completely obsolete the supply chain? Just ship weapons, ammo, people to the target by dropping a receiver to a good location?


184:

That is already true though; you can do cross a border in a few hours by train, plane, ferry, or small boat.

In general, I think that people are underestimating the things that already make most people travel less than they could; networks of friends, family ties, commitments to work or school, homes, local knowledge. Yes, you can commute farther, but most of the people who can help you get a job are probably in your home city. These factors wouldn't fundamentally change. Yes, more people can afford the time and money of a trip to Egypt or Florence, but the limit on visits to many places is already physical capacity, or wear and tear on the site.

185:

Since its not an open portal (i.e. a continuous wormhole) then space must be periodically opened or linked to a remote receiver if it qualifies for momentum transfer issues.

Conceptually this could be viewed as temporarily linking one location in space to another to transfer the booths contents. If you can link remote space locations you can also travel in time since they are interchangeable.

The proper quote:
In the early 1900s, Minkowski and Einstein found that space and time are interchangeable and replaced them with spacetime for rigorous scientific purposes.

I'm still struggling with how the device would operate between inertial and non-inertial frames of reference.. Anyway, an open wormhole can be accelerated to near light speed on a curved trip, brought to rest near earth to form a time-machine. This device is slightly different..

If there is no trans-dimensional information transfer between booths then we have a forward only time-machine (i.e. beam signal out to a repeater near Mars, loop it back and forth awhile before instantiating the cargo).

If there is trans-dimensional communication between booths (i.e. you get to pick the space location the portal opens onto) you are effectively reaching outside of our 3 dimensions to step around the space separating the two locations. At that point you have a machine capable of sending objects both backwards and forwards in time.

Once you can link separate locations in space as one, so you can with with time...

If the receiver is needed to open the far side of the portal... then your time-machine only works during the interval of time that the machine exists.

However, if some non-superluminal communication must occur to tell the receiver when to initiate portal opening then once again you are limited to future travel only.

My head hurts now....

186:

Actually, let's look at the other end: energy infrastructure. If the teleport system is regenerative in some regard (e.g. conservation of mass-energy recharges the system in some way), we've got a nice way to, say, turn trash into energy. Basically, you take whatever system you use to conserve mass-energy and turn it part way off. Then you dump trash through the system. If you get your vectors right, you'll get a high velocity stream that ignites on impact coming out the other end, right into a trash incinerator (possibly with some sort of plasma centrifuge at the other end to sort out the useful stuff). No need to create Kessler effects elsewhere in the solar system by dumping trash, when you can generate huge amounts of energy with it on the planet while recycling the constituents.

Now, there's another possibility: the teleportation system is not energy regenerative. You have to dump huge amounts of energy into the system to keep whatever is traveling from destroying the booth as it comes in. This means the booths pretty much have to have a hydropower dam, nuclear power plant, or similar huge generator sitting nearby to make them work. This limits the booth to official (and highly costly) functions, and other transportation modes remain the standard. Couple this scenario with Peak Energy to make things more interesting.

The final (and fun) question is safety. What's an acceptable error rate for transmission? I don't think zero will be achievable, and there may be interesting cost vs. safety tradeoffs. Different categories of travel (business class vs. economy vs. steerage) may be based on safety and error rates, not speed. Social dynamics get interesting, at this point. What's an acceptable risk?

187:

Cough, @69

And don't forget, this is still causality breaking - and has our host has said, that equates to time travel as far as the universe and relativity is concerned - nobody has picked that up.

188:

Matt, @69

If memory serves, everything decays (proton decay) or fuses (QM tunnelling) on a long enough timeline (remember the iron core in Iron Sunrise). Depending on where they start from, that therefore makes EVERY element either exo of endo thermic. So you either get energy out, or it requires/absorbs energy - and you end up with an iron version of anything you send through.

Oh, and what happens if what you send through is the exit gate that you are actually sending to?

189:

Just to add $0.02 to things...

You've just bankrupted the coal industry. IF you can persuade actinides to decay instantly, you can just add water and feed the resulting live steam to a turbine and voila! (Actually, how mush dissolved uranium is there in seawater? Hmmm - maybe just put water + lanthanide ore in and get purified non-radioactive rare-earth ore at the other end, + use steam at sending end...)

I suspect that if you decide the physics of this thing both require that the velocity of arriving goods/people relative to receiver is the same as they had relative to the sending unit, and that the maximum relative velocity is 3m/s (or whatever is the maximum velocity of blood in an artery), then at least some of the perpetual motion implications go away.

If you also decide that the sending requires electrical power input to accelerate sent mass to null velocity relative to the receiver as well as lift it as far up any gravity wells as would be required (OK, add more for losses in power conversion and inefficiencies etc), then you have a device that at least doesn't break the first law of thermodynamics.

Of course, the invention of radioactivity-free nuclear power above will break a lot of economic and other assumptions ;-)

Oh yes, your security border receivers are (of course) engineered to survive:

1. Detonations of 27 cubic metres of high explosive
2. Release of 27 cubic metres of VX or similar nerve gas
3. Arrival of 27 cubic metres of liquid Chlorine Pentafluoride (it will release itself ;-)
4. Chemical reaction-powered lasers
5. Release of 27 cubic metres of dioxin or other suitably persistent organic pollutants

...

Oh, and the border receiver has to somehow be safe for random humans to pass through, as well.

Anyway, have fun with your world-building (or wrecking, or...)

190:

If we can handwave and say that transuranics will be excluded . . . why can't it be programmed to exclude pathogens?

Orders of magnitude difference in complexity of excluding a handful of rare, precisely defined, elements from transmission to deciding that this piece of biological material is meant to be associated with this one but not with this other one (gut and skin flora, integrated viral DNA, multi-form protiens and the fungi in the cheese sandwich you had for lunch). A box that can do this would be a piece of magic on par with our gracious hosts teleport cubicle and possibly a cornucopia device so I suspect he'd have mentioned it it the handwavium was going to get that complex.

191:

On the question of TSA style security screening and other theatrical measures designed to prevent terrorist atrocities:

The reason air travel is such a tempting target is that a) a plane is a delicate aluminium tube containing several hundred people who are powerless survive either breakup of the vehicle or intersection with the ground and b) a plane has all the useful characteristics of an air-to-ground missile.

Similar arguments to (a) apply to attacks on trains and other vehicles, but perhaps to a lesser extent.

Neither of these apply to OGH's teleporter as specified. There is literally no time to attack while in transit. There's only about 15 people in each load, which is bad enough, but surely preferable to losing a full plane-load.

Of course, the teleporter station can become a target in its own right, much as an airport could. But no more so than any other location where large groups of people congregate. A large bomb in the stands at a major sporting event would likely serve the terrorist desire for dominating the news headlines better than an attack on an isolated teleporter station.

Teleporters, being static ground based installations and hence without any engineering constraints on weight can be heavily armoured. Meter-thick concrete walls aren't that expensive. Also, apropos calculations above that reasonably sized cities will have hundreds of teleport stations: clearly these should be dispersed around the city, rather than having a grand-central interchange, simply to avoid creating a juicy target.

192:

Everyone
PLEASE REMEMBER - you seem to be forgetting.
E-W transitions - EASY
N-S transitions - DIFFICULT.
Also remember p.e. costs with altitude!

IIRC didn't Arthur Conan Doyle come up with an idea of this sort in one of his Professer Challenger stories?

Mark Dennehy @ 52
There was a G. Bear (?) story "Wind from a burning Woman", that I've lost, and is now (IIRC) available onlyu in vast collections, about crashing an asteroid onto Earth as a terrorist attack.
Want to read it again.
Nasty.

193:

I think the social impact of this is huge.

What are the prices of bespoke suits in Edunburgh and Mumbai today?

What are the prices six months after you connect them with a booth?

194:

@183:
how do you secure the destination to make sure that a malicious agent doesn't change your destination to the Marianas Trench?

--

That assumes the booths are addressable. Different use patterns would occur if the booths could only communicate with one other booth; say they were made in matching pairs.

You'd be back to something like a railroad/airport terminal, and a lot of freight and passenger handling and timetables to make the connections.

It would still be very useful, but not nearly as handy.

195:

Charlie writes:


1. While this tech collapses all urban areas into one planetary super-city, it's not going to have much effect on (a) rural areas, (b) suburbs and exurbs, (c) people living in underdeveloped nations outside of cities.
So expect rural deprivation to accelerate. Also, possibly, rewilding of suburbs and exurbs.

Rural areas are rural for a reason - usually resources. This won't affect that.

As for suburbs...

Standing on the sidewalk in front of my suburban house I can look around and see $30 million or so in houses. In my neighborhood - about 150 acres in a mid-cost SF-bay area - are about 500 houses with combined value around $150 million at current rates.

Right now I get to drive to work ($20 a day) or walk or drive 2 miles to BART and use it to get to work ($12/day). In either case it's an hourish trip. It would be entirely economically worth it for there to be a teleport booth in my neighborhood.

Some less affluent suburbs perhaps not so much, but in the Bay Area these would show up at a density exceeding one per square kilometer. There would be one in the city center of my parents town (1 mi to house) and in laws town (0.5 mi to house). The company in southern California I flew down to forty or do times in 2010 would have one on campus.

This idea is ten times too cheap to be usefully scarce in wealthy developed areas.

196:

"E-W transitions - EASY"

Is that really true? Wouldn't longitude be important? An object traveling at 1000 mph at the equator in Brazil be traveling at 1000 mph in the opposite direction on the other side of the planet in the East Indies? So relative to the receiver, the Brazilian contents are traveling at 2000 mph?

197:

Regarding space travel -

Charlie's stated version without the embellishment requirements up thread makes colonization of everywhere we can soft-land the ten tons or so stated booth weight an immediate opportunity. LEO now; GEO and L-5 later this year; Luna 2-3 years; Mars 5-8 years. The dimensions are right below the minimum optimal subdivided space station / base size - so extra cables and docking port costs will be inconvenient, but given the two or three order of magnitude lower launch cost that is in the noise. I could see even using welded steel as the main structures given the delivery costs...

It's cheaper to lift solar panels to GEO than buy them land in Arizona or southern California. More expensive to microwave beam the power down after but given 24x7 insolation space solar probably is a near or immediate win. This triples the effective solar panel delivered wattage production rate making them a viable main power base load source in years not decades.

Conversely, other than platinum group metals, space resources fall in value, as it's cheaper to ship from Earth...

Venus... The surface there (and atmosphere) may be colonization practical.

Mars and Luna definitely. Luna and Phobos, probably, then assemble a drop lander at Phobos and drop a booth to Mars' surface. Probably faster to do that than direct soft land a booth sized object directly. Keep landing them at varying locations around the planet...

198:

If momentum conserved E-W is not easier than N-S. If you go E a few hundred miles you have a vector rising into the sky. W, down to the surface.

As for sleeping in one country and working in another, that's already common in Benelux countries. And at Geneva we have a laboratory that crosses boundaries.

199:

If you jump a solar panel to GEO it falls back down. You still need to boost it to orbital velocity. Also the teleport must take at least as much energy as any other method of getting up there would. Or if you don't then we have a perpetual motion machine and unlimited free energy. Which is also fun speculation but a different one.

200:

WMDs - ship in 10 tonnes from Saturn orbit and it arrives like a 1kT nuke

201:

Ken Brown writes:


If you jump a solar panel to GEO it falls back down. You still need to boost it to orbital velocity.

GEosynchronous Orbit. It sort of implies the sideways motion part...

I am not proposing a perpetual motion machine. The energy required for space travel is between 1% and 0.1% of the current cost. That's the point.

202:

In "Wind From A Burning Woman" the terrorist hijacks an asteroid that was parked in cisLunar space and being made over into a long-haul starship, so the scenario is similar to that of using an airplane as a weapon (just a few billion tons heavier and about 11 km/sec faster).

203:

Moving bulk grain on an American railroad costs something in the ballpark of 2.7 cents per ton-mile. Now that is the lowest rate class, and the US has some of the lowest rates globally, but rail freight might still remain competitive for non-urgent and bulk loads. If I did the conversions right one teleporter load of wheat should weigh in the ballpark of 5.85 short tons for anyone who wants to monkey with the numbers.

Clandestine booths might be a pain to find but it could be done by looking for buildings with unusually high power usage and waste heat. This is already done by police to find marijuana grow rooms.

I doubt that security screening would be any more intense than it is for taking the train. What customs and immigration puts you through is potentially a whole different story (or maybe not).

I suspect there would be recreational uses that we'd find non-intuitive; jumping out of airplanes for fun was probably not an application at the forefront of the Wright brothers' minds. The best I can do is picture the Boston Marathon becoming the Boston-Chicago-Los Angeles-Mexico City-Tokyo-Shanghai-Singapore-Mumbai-Cairo-Rome-London-Rio de Janeiro-Cape Town-Sydney Marathon.

As for isolated private estates, millionaires wouldn't be the only ones interested. Anyone who wants to self-segregate themselves could want one. David Koresh and Jim Jones would have been thhrilled to have one. Similarly I could picture something like a global Haredi neighborhood where a resident is more likely to interact with someone from another continent than with someone from a few blocks away.

204:

Edinburgh to London is an international flight? Meaning what in practice?

"or an unpleasant five hour train journey, or an even less pleasant nine hour drive"

I didn't think it was an unpleasant train ride, but I was touristing, not going back and forth. Also, from a NorAm POV, this is totally spoiled. :) We don't get trains that do 9 hour rides in five hours. I skipped FilkOntario because the Boston-Ontario options were a real international flight costing $600 round trip or a 9 hour carpool which didn't happen or a $160 bus round 15 hours each away or I didn't even check trains.

205:
I doubt that security screening would be any more intense than it is for taking the train. What customs and immigration puts you through is potentially a whole different story (or maybe not).

Agreed. To put it another way,
http://tsanewsblog.com/1625/news/is-tsa-just-another-airline-subsidy/

calculates the cost of TSA security theater as $11.38
per passenger screening

For a typical airline ticket this is 1%-10% of the total cost -
not good, but not outlandish. To do the same thing to these
transfer booths would approximately double their cost.
Now, I live in the US, and I've certainly seen my government
do any number of batshit-insane things - but I don't think
that they would double the cost of most of the transportation
sector.

206:

It's cheaper to lift solar panels to GEO than buy them land in Arizona or southern California. More expensive to microwave beam the power down after but given 24x7 insolation space solar probably is a near or immediate win..

Have to call BS on that one. It costs about $5-7/watt currently to put a solar cell on a roof in Southern California (I know, because I checked in January). It's theoretically half that price to build a big solar plant in the deep desert, but when you factor in the multi-billion dollar transmission line, the costs are roughly comparable.I don't think you can get an array into orbit for the same cost.

I've hammered on the other problems with solar (and there are some), but it's definitely not cheaper to put them into orbit.

The cheapest solution is to coat as many roofs and parking lots as possible with solar panels. The huge problems with this solution are:

1) Not everyone has legal ownership of, or access to their roof.

2) You're asking people to pay $20-$30k up front for 20 years of power. They're used to paying 6 cents per kilowatt hour out of the wall socket, and this seems big. It's even bigger if you're not planning on living in the house for the next 20 years, because that means you've got to somehow get the money out of whoever you sell the place to, which is hard in this market.

3) The local power companies in Southern California get all whiny about rooftop solar. I get frustrated with the monopolistic buggers complaining about how a badly connected solar panel might shock an incautious electrician during a blackout (all true--power flows out of the house unless you bought the standard cut-out to take it off the grid), but they're totally fine with charging customers for wildfires started by problems with their power lines. It's hard to tell whether they're genuinely concerned about having incompetent electricians, or whether they're just trying to keep their monopoly over providing power from big power plants, and don't want people to get power off their own roofs.

Anyway, we don't need solar in orbit to fix this mess. Getting the politics and expectation management working is the real solution. Perhaps the predicted rolling brown outs this summer will cause people to come around (San Onofre is still off-line, thanks to a *fascinating* engineering screw up involving their steam turbines.)

207:

Very common in Basel in Switzerland too. A lot of people working in the hotels in Basel actually live either in St Louis in France or in Lörrach in Germany. (You can get from Lörrach to St Louis in about 45 minutes, solely using the Basel tram system.)

208:

Edinburgh to London is an international flight? Meaning what in practice?

Meaning I get to go to the airport and embark on a journey exactly as long as I would if I was going to Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin, Oslo ...

209:

Heteromeles writes:


Have to call BS on that one. It costs about $5-7/watt currently to put a solar cell on a roof in Southern California (I know, because I checked in January). It's theoretically half that price to build a big solar plant in the deep desert, but when you factor in the multi-billion dollar transmission line, the costs are roughly comparable.I don't think you can get an array into orbit for the same cost.

I forget the precise energy to GEO but to escape the potential is 11 km/s, 60.5 MJ/kg. one kwh is 3.6 MJ; 20 kwh is 72 MJ, and $2.20 California retail electric costs.

Times whatever watts per kg you get (for cheap panels, 40?)...

It's $10,000 a pound to GEO now, but these (hypothetical) booths are a game changer on that.

Like I said, they're an order of magnitude too cheap for scarcity...

210:

There is still an advantage to orbital solar - nearly 24 hr, uninterrupted, annually stable power production. Even in CA the sunshine is variable and needs to be stored at some cost for night power, and rainy seasons make this worse.

We would need a better analysis to determine if the teleport makes an orbital SPS economic or not.

211:

I said:
Times whatever watts per kg you get (for cheap panels, 40?)...

Divided by, not times...

212:

Alex Tolley writes:


We would need a better analysis to determine if the teleport makes an orbital SPS economic or not.

This has been done a lot before. As far as I remember at GEO launch costs under around $100/lb it's a clear win no matter what other assumptions you use.

213:

If you don't like the mass-swapping model, the logical answer to enable long distance teleportation is for the receiver, not the transmitter, to pump in the energy difference between the starting and local vectors. (Note that this eliminates almost all of the stupider WMD scenarios.) The bog-standard neighborhood teleport booths can take you from Osaka to Miami, probably by way of an intermediate long-distance booth, and the only damage will be to your bank account.

If you're really wedded to teleporting things into orbit, remember that Charlie specifically said teleport booths - not portals. If something arrives inside the booth at a kilometer a second, yes, it arrives; now you're out a $20m teleport receiver and your cargo had better be damn rugged.

Charlie: How to you feel about the mass swapping scheme? If that doesn't do it for you, this implies the possibility of transmit-only or receive-only booths. Unless there is a real price break, I suspect few would be made.

214:

But Scott, where are they going to get the power to operate the booth? If its an aircraft, they can pull it off the turbines or from outside (assuming wherever they've landed has functioning infrastructure). And our kind host hasn't mentioned anything about running a power lead through the booths.

But if they're going to use the engines, they'll need power even if its on the same longitude as they are. And that means 27m^3 of jet fuel periodically. That, some scary batteries or an air liftable nuclear reactor.

I'm not sure which of the three options I imagine is worse.

215:

The electrical mains are probably going to be the usual source. As you point out, a mobile booth could draw power from the vehicle's engines. This is quite intentionally a point; people have been overlooking the power required to run the booths, which is fine for the ones in cities but not so simple away from support infrastructure. As they say, it's not a bug, it's a feature.

And forgive me if I'm overlooking something obvious that you've implied, but moving fuel via teleporter would seem to be the exception not the rule. We've already got pretty efficient pipelines and tankers that have better throughput than the teleport booths. Occasional field resupply, sure, but the economics of scale suggest gas stations are better.

Incidentally, folks, James Nicoll had an appendix thread here.

216:

Where I live, the primary means of travel is by automobile. Distances are too great to walk (even if there were sidewalks, and it's unlawful to walk on the shoulder or road) or bicycle (same thing).

The flip side is, anywhere you want to go, there's a road to it. Anywhere there's not a road is a place where you bring your gear and strike out cross-country, assuming the dirt bikes and 4-wheelers haven't already blazed trails for you.

Many urban areas are technically accessible by car, but practically by point-to-point "wormholes." You get on the bus, the train, the elevated railway, or the subway, vanish from the road system, and reappear somewhere else, in a different neighborhood or even a different city. City dwellers are (I expect) used to thinking in terms of terms of routes and stops. One block to the U-Bahn, a short ride, and two more blocks to your destination is "closer" than somewhere only a mile away if the bus connections aren't optimal, etc. So they probably don't think of the transit system in relation to some physical location. At least, I don't think I would.

Assuming this, adding transfer booths would just add another set of routes and points to the ones that are already there.

Just musing... I've never actually seen a subway, though I saw a commuter train once when near DC.

217:
If the commute was 20 minutes and the cost was about the same as a bus ticket then I could work in any office anywhere in the world. So I could have my dream job regardless of where it was located. So could everyone. Every business gets to hire exactly the right person from a global pool rather than from a pool of those with an hour’s drive of their office.

Not just jobs — all areas of life would be affected like that.

A metropolis is not just an area where people are willing to commute for work, but also one where they're willing to commute to a party, club, hobby-shop, date...

Currently the biggest metropolises are a few million people, maybe a dozen or two at most; there are megalopolises which are bigger, but at some point the commute times get too long for them to truly function as a single city.

With these booths, there will be at least two "cities" with a billion people each (called "English" and "Mandarin Chinese"). That's 2-3 orders of magnitude more than today's metropolises; they're likely to resemble them about as much as a metropolis resembles a town of some 10k-100k people. We have no idea what they will look like.

It will be plausible to have support (shops, clubs) for interests that are 2-3 orders of magnitude more obscure than today; not just a model rail-road club, but one catering specifically to a particular area, style or period; rather than one SCA for all of middle ages, separate ones for particular decades. It'll be weird.


Another unprecedented social effect will be that the concept of "moving away" will disappear. Today when you change cities, you leave behind a lot of your networks, family, friends, colleagues. Sometimes this is bad, sometimes it's a relief, often a mixture of both, but it is what's always happened when you go out into the world. With the booths, you will never have to do that and you will never be able to.

You can move to a new "city" (by learning a new language), but you never really leave your old one.


Footnote: "English" and "Mandarin Chinese" — Wikipedia suggests there are rather more English speakers than Mandarin Chinese. On the other hand, I have the impression that English speakers are spread out across time-zones, while the Chinese are concentrated around Beijing time, so "English" would tend to be somewhat divided by time-zone, with overlapping zones (people can share a meal without agreeing on whether it's breakfast, lunch or supper) much in the way of today' conurbations.

218:
Are you saying that the electricity required to send a load from Earth to the Moon would be about 1 MW hr?

Ah, that's per person, not per load. Still, the costs you give aren't exactly astronomical even taken per person.

This basically puts booth space travel on a par with OGH's remark some time ago about taking a stage-coach across the Home Counties and taking a modern jet flight to New Zealand, at least price-wise (we're assuming the comfort is rather higher).

219:

Well, now that I think about it, assuming air dominance, they could just fly in tankers and do that.

But, if air dominance is not assured, and I was the general in charge of the operations, I'd have my logistics team work out how many loads of fuel I'd have to drop through to continue powering the thing and have it on stand by ready to go.

Unlikely to be needed, but ...

Still, there is a part of me that wonders if someone could build an airlift capable nuclear reactor...

220:

A lot of these comments are on using the device as a weapon system or as a path to space, when these seem to be explicitly what OGH wasn't interested in; I'm going to follow up on the three threads discussing 1) the firewall 2) the cost of travel and 3) the momentum-negation problem, since they're the ones that keep me on the topic of 'immediate security concerns'.

First, I take Charlie's point about the firewall to be right on. Any one of these that's open to general use will be routed through a quarantined intermediate location with intense security. Second, the energy-and-momentum conservation problem implies to me that many short jumps should be preferred to long jumps, since required energy compensation will be proportional to delta-v squared. Together, these suggest that general purpose public teleportation networks will contain a significant centralized component and that the nodes of this network will be fairly close together. These are like hopping trains, not planes. Third, the point that each of these devices being ~$50 mil leads to trips about ~$10 each based on raw capital costs suggests that security will be a huge part of the teleportation suppliers' margins. Not only will security be a primary determinant of the suppliers' margins, the time to get through security will also dominate the time taken to transport, making security a primary determinant of the consumer's marginal utility of teleportation as well. The time to get through the security line and the scanners will be the entirety of the travel time. Currently, air travel takes long enough that the security line is an indignity but a small part of the time cost of travel; teleportation will end that completely. Finally, most of the security concerns that have been suggested so far already exist (as people have been pointing out): smuggling, delivering explosives, dropping large numbers of troops secretly into foreign countries, biological contagion, big explosions from equipment sabotage, etc, are already problems.

In short, what most people will see are competing oligopolists providing a ubiquitous service whose competitive advantages will lie in security innovations for known security concerns. Far from being a new concern, this will be a great opportunity. (Neglecting causality-warping attacks on free will or the fabric of spacetime, of course.)

TL;DR- minimally magic teleportation decreases every cost of travel but the security costs, so these become very important, driving innovation and investment in the sector.

221:

It's hard to tell whether they're genuinely concerned about having incompetent electricians, or whether they're just trying to keep their monopoly over providing power from big power plants, and don't want people to get power off their own roofs.

I suspect part of it is that the current rate structure for selling you power and buying it back from solar homes has a serious flaw. Prices where people buy power have the rate set up with the infrastructure costs bundled with the power generation costs. Once a non trivial number of people are feeding power back into the grid the rate system will have to adjust and people pay for the privilege of being connected with buying or selling power being added or subtracted to that cost. But politicians are going to avoid that subject until they bankrupt a few power companies. Public or private.

222:

One consequence of common teleport booths is that securing a nation-state becomes much less about securing its borders. Teleports could be sited based on a number of requirements; in general I would expect that if they exist in a large switched network that there would be some large fraction that would be associated with particular buildings or other fixed destinations and would be privately owned or leased by some entity at the destination, and another fraction that would be owned by either governments (local or national depending on the nature of the location) or by corporations or other agencies that maintain (and perhaps charge for) the transportation within some subnet of the teleport network.

Now the topology of the network and the subnets that evolve need not have much to do with the physical topology of the countryside, nor of the political topology of nation state borders. The US, for instance, currently concentrates much of its security at and around its national borders (I see the border air patrol go overhead every morning at about 10 AM), bu this strategy is both non-optimal and not necessary when securing the teleport net. Instead, security can be concentrated a the vulnerable points and at the nodes that are one or two arcs away from the vulnerabilities. And by controlling the number and operation of those nearby nodes the security problems can also be better controlled.

223:

Wheat varies in density, but 76 kg per hectolitre is used as a quality standard, so a 3m cube of wheat would be about 20 tonnes. It's volume-limited, and you need some volume for packaging and safety margin. Also, if you're using some kind of container, it might end up the same cross-section as the current ISO cargo container. That makes a big difference, maybe 7.5 tonnes payload.

224:

Securing these will depend on how many there are and how they are used.

If the architecture lends itself to firewalls or concentration points security has a chance.

They seem cheap enough that there would be tens or hundreds of thousands of them; perhaps more than there on-duty police in the country.

This will be uncomfortable to some, but...

We don't police every harbor / dock continuously. Nor every train or bus. It's only aircraft we're really paranoid about. And that because of passenger vulnerability and their use as giant crude cruise missiles. Neither of those is a risk with booths.

It will inspire centralization and more authority; it will eventually economically flip to more free.

225:

I wonder if it effectively ends the nation-state.

The cost of securing borders by securing transport hubs looks prohibitive (or rather, less paranoid nations get significant economic benefits). Borders therefore very porous.

The Gini co-efficient of nations narrows. Domestic shoppers can do commodity arbitrage. Unless you assign a couple of customs clerks to every booth the whole world becomes a free trade area.

The raising & spending taxation for shared infrastructure becomes problematic.

If don't like the laws in one area I can go elsewhere, easily.

226:

TRX @ 216
Just musing... I've never actually seen a subway, though I saw a commuter train once when near DC.

You WHAT?

In really big cities [London, Brelin, Paris etc] there are definitely regions in the outer/inner periphery (if you see what I mean) that are further away than places geographically further out.
Classic London example is Watford and Carpenders' Park.
The former is 15 minutes from the terminus, but the second is 37 minutes, though 3 miles closer to London ...
As for us residents, some of us have the tube & rail systems of the capital hard-wired, almost.
It makes travel VERY easy.
A switch to booths would be a shift in mode, but NOT in habits of travel.
Agfain, for lots of short hops, as suggested, the security would have to be relaxed.
You cannot, physically guard everything, as we found out on 7/7/2005.
And we still have security paranoia - even though the only real way of stopping nutters like them is to catch them BEFORE they do it.
But the so-called security services public faces, and of course their hired legions of jobsworths don't seem to have cottoned on to this yet - because, of course it would put them out of the busybodying jobs ....

227:
If you don't like the mass-swapping model, the logical answer to enable long distance teleportation is for the receiver, not the transmitter, to pump in the energy difference
Or to just say that whatever is moved between booths must arrive at rest (and be accelerated at the transmitter), otherwise nothing happens.

Rocket sleds are back in fashion and international travel is finally an exciting adventure again!

228:

Thinking about it a bit, a hybrid model should work well and give some interesting limitations.

The transmitter would have to supply most of the energy difference, but it could be handwaved to work within tolerances set by the receiver's ability to compensate with its own energy store – so if you put a receiver on a probe to Mars, transmitting even small things would be something that would have to be handled by CERN (lots of energy involved, small margins for error), but on the surface of the Earth, anywhere you can connect to the grid (and install suitably huge capacitors) could receive things as a routine operation.

So: no sending things through that crash through the booth on arrival, since no more energy could be released than the receiver already stores; sending fuel to spacecraft would theoretically be possible, but impractical; sending people into even low orbit would involve some serious acceleration on the ground prior to activation, and so on.

And if you're good at making things line up exactly, you pay less to have your goods received. If you're not so good, your drug shipment just blacked out the entire neighborhood and your boss isn't going to be happy.

229:

City dwellers are (I expect) used to thinking in terms of terms of routes and stops. One block to the U-Bahn, a short ride, and two more blocks to your destination is "closer" than somewhere only a mile away if the bus connections aren't optimal, etc.

Yes'n'no: one mile through city streets is, if they're not congested, a 20-minute walk. Whereas the time to get to a subway station, pay, get to a platform, wait for a train, catch it one stop, get out of the station, then walk two blocks, is probably rather longer. (Remix for buses, too.) This is why healthy natives of cities with reasonable climates and not too much congestion walk or bike a lot.

In fact, given your description of your neighbourhood, I wouldn't be surprised to find that many exurban or country dwellers walk much less than city dwellers.

Which has implications. (Teleport booths lead to an overall improvement in public cardiovascular health due to less sitting and more walking?)

230:

Still, there is a part of me that wonders if someone could build an airlift capable nuclear reactor...

It's been done. (Hunt for the NB-36H variant.)

Airlifting the shielding is another matter.

231:
It will inspire centralization and more authority; it will eventually economically flip to more free.
I think that's absolutely right. Initially they'll be shoehorned into the business model of whomever makes the jump first (so I'd expect to see them in, say, railway and subway stations over here) and they'll inherit all the ways of doing things associated with the old organization: security measures, pricing, network structure (hubs or mesh?), and so on.

But who knows who will eventually be able to have them. Casinos? Universities? Apple stores?

232:

Yup, the two virtual gigacities are exactly the sort of side-effect I was looking for.

Hmm.

Over the longer term (10-50 years) this is going to have a profoundly corrosive effect on national governments that define citizenship by territory rather than by nativity. After all, it suddenly levels the playing field for businesses seeking favourable tax and labour law regimes. Either we see a dramatic race to the bottom, or global standards for employment protection and sales tax come in. And property taxes that vary with location will pretty much die, unless they're based on proximity to the nearest teleport.

We might see some national governments attempting to maintain their autonomy from the melting-pot effect by prioritising the teaching of their national language, or de-prioritising the teaching of English.

233:
A lot of these comments are on using the device as a weapon system or as a path to space, when these seem to be explicitly what OGH wasn't interested in
That's because he made the mistake of postulating a technology, "booth or gate" instead of its effects, "instantaneous travel". Give people a technology and they'll figure out a way to use it for their own purposes.
234:

In short, what most people will see are competing oligopolists providing a ubiquitous service whose competitive advantages will lie in security innovations for known security concerns.

Disagree completely.

Q: Why do we have airport security?

A: Because airliners are inherently vulnerable; they carry a lot of people, and the failure mode is fatal. Also, to a lesser extent, because airports are vulnerable (consider the Lod Airport massacre in 1970) -- but then, so are sports stadia and railway stations and cinemas and we don't routinely see airport-level security at those venues.

My gut feeling is that national governments will obsess over security, and existing security industrial bureaucracies will try to come up with a pitch for their adding protecting teleports to their responsibilities. But the actual cause of security vulnerabilities is the presence of lots of people. People queueing at a security checkpoint are themselves a target. A small teleport -- 27 cubic metres means an elevator car-sized box of, in US terms, just under 10 feet on a side -- means that the contents are a trivial target; a suicide bomber attacking a teleport booth containing 20 people will kill fewer victims than if they attack a slowly-moving security queue with 200 people lined up for a pat-down.

So I expect the likely pattern for security will be:

Short-range passenger jumps that don't cross a frontier -- no obvious security whatsoever. However, passengers will need to present ID to buy access, so movements may be tracked for traffic analysis. And when there's a security scare, a random sample of teleport travellers will find themselves making an unexpected intermediate stop under the guns of a SuperMax police fortress, for inspection before being sent on their way. I envisage payment by NFC card, something like the London Oyster card or Boston Charlie card, with ID required in order to obtain a card. No card? No travel.

Long-range passenger jumps (defined as those that cross a customs barrier or frontier, not necessarily by distance travelled) -- same, but passport/national ID card with biometrics required. Many nations will operate a pre-cleared/visa free agreement -- similar to the EU Schengen zone -- others will require a brief minimum notice period. The USA currently requires 48 hours notice of intention to visit; there'll be a lot of pressure to walk this back to 30 or 60 minutes. There may be customs halls to check arrivals, and a higher frequency of diversions into a military/border guard inspection area prior to arrival.

The rationale of putting metal detectors in front of airline passengers, and scanning shoes and belt buckles, is to prevent an individual from bringing down a plane and killing hundreds or thousands of people. It no longer applies -- the most they can do is kill a handful of fellow-travellers, and a handgun isn't much use if you're in a 10 foot by 10 foot box with 20 other people: you might kill a couple before the others pull you down.

One option that might show up is to build explosive sensors, drug sniffers, or other security devices into the teleport booths themselves. At which point the mode of transport is the security device. Just the rumour of this would be a huge deterrent against trying to attack the network: any such attack would automatically be unleashed against a heavily armoured and armed inspection fortress, not a crowded public concourse.

TL:DR; the TSA would hate this tech, it would put 95% of them out of work.

235:

Bruce, an architectural note: the availability of teleports is likely to kill skyscrapers as an architectural style.

Why go up when there's plenty of desolate waste ground to build on in Outer Mongolia, and you can link distant locations within a sprawling ground complex via internal teleports, like elevators?

Imagine a future Apple Store. The storefront is a glassy cube with a produce display surrounding ... a teleport. There are many storefronts. All of them lead to the retail interior, which is a gigantic void somewhere cheap. There will be as many storefronts as are necessary to handle the pedestrian traffic, located in neighbourhoods that already attract significant retail trade: there will also be teleports linked to the public network, to allow individual collection of pre-ordered high-value items. If more business comes in, it's then easy to expand the retail trading floor space without having to expand the storefront on Fifth Avenue or New Oxford Street or in Shinjuku or wherever.

236:

That sounds about right.

And if the TSA insists on continuing being a pain, the option of "can't we just hold the meeting in Paris instead?" would get a lot easier. (ISTR that this already happens for some professional/scientific conferences, or am I completely off here?)

237:
two virtual gigacities ... Over the longer term (10-50 years) this is going to have a profoundly corrosive effect on national governments

One interesting contrast between the two gigacities will be that while Mandarin Chinese speakers are already predominantly under one government, English has quarter of a billion speakers in the US, quarter of a billion in the EU, 125m here, 90m there, 80m yonder...

I'd suspect that while the English gigacity will indeed be very corrosive to national governments, at least for countries with substantial English-speaking population, the Mandarin Chinese one will not and may even have the opposite effect.

238:

You cannot, physically guard everything, as we found out on 7/7/2005.
And we still have security paranoia - even though the only real way of stopping nutters like them is to catch them BEFORE they do it.
But the so-called security services public faces, and of course their hired legions of jobsworths don't seem to have cottoned on to this yet - because, of course it would put them out of the busybodying jobs ....

The security services do seem to know this, when you talk to them individually at any level above gum-chewing jobsworth marshalling a queue for the metal detectors.

The trouble is, the requirement to impose security restrictions is essentially a political one, and there is a failure mode in democratic accountability: a politician who relaxes mandatory security requirements is going to catch it in the neck from the media and the voters if such a relaxation is followed by an atrocity, even if it is unconnected. Whereas there is no political capital to be directly made by relaxing security. Which is why most anti-terrorism security precautions operate on a one-way ratchet; it's much easier politically to tighten security requirements than to relax them again.

(This leaves aside the whole way that cynical leaders used the security threat colour-coding thing to manipulate the voters, but I digress.)

239:

If the teleports get cheap enough, those 2 virtual cities could fragment into a huge number of virtual neighborhoods, distinguished by fairly high internal connectivity and low external connectivity, each a virtual city-state. In the extreme, the external booth(s) could be hidden, and the neighborhood could contain the headquarters of a criminal organization, a clandestine military or revolutionary group, a covert ops organization (belonging to some other entity or free-lance), a market for gray- or black-market goods, or a meeting place for groups who practice behaviors not acceptable to the larger communities (human sacrifice, forced sex traffic, extreme psychological conditioning, etc.).

If the teleports get cheaper still, a connected subnet could be used in extreme sports. Think of a race along paths through a chain or web of teleports where one path goes through a section of the Great Erg, the next is along a ridge in the Himalayas at 4,000 meters altitude, the next requires a 10 kilometer paddle between islands in the Aegean, the next riding a zip line between the crowns of trees in the Amazon jungle, usw, all streamed to the internet from carefully placed cameras.

240:

I think that the time zones are a feature and not a bug.

It is one of the many advantages of having two physical English gigacities instead of one. By having the two English gigacities at opposite sides of the globe one of them always has true daylight and is also in solar / time zone harmony with minor cities or gigasuburbs on its side of the globe. Since they are linked it means a 24 hour work day for businesses.

The other big advantage (or reason for birth / fusions / concentration) of two linked English gigacities is that you can balance a "fake" city with a "true" city. That is to say, one of them would be a giant office park / business park (with the exception of a few lived-in neighborhoods) where most of the population get in the portals and leave for towns or gigasuburbs when the sun sets. The other gigacity would be a true cultural hub, where most (but not all!) of the population would stay to live after the sun sets.

I'm looking at the globe for English-friendly spots where resources are abundant and there is so much land that plunking down a portal - linked gigacity of 100 million would not be noticed by people elsewhere in the country, and I see some parts of Western Australia, near the origins of some of their rivers. On the other side of the globe I see the parts of Northern Ontario that are still within the treeline and not too far from James Bay.

241:

That started me thinking about sports and other activities that piggyback on the existing network, like Capture the Flag, tag, extreme geocaching, Nerf War (easier on the bystanders than paintball), and treasure hunts. There are lots of story ideas here, frex a thriller in which one person hunts down and tries to murder another while playing in a larger game of tag in turn embedded in a multiple-location celebration on the order of Mardi Gras or Diwali.

And another thought: emergency services would have to be redesigned to be transported via teleport. Instead of being delivered by large vehicles like ambulances, fire trucks, and police squad cars, emergency personnel and equipment might travel on one or two person legged vehicles like the pack robots being developed by the US Army for carrying equipment off road. Legged vehicles about the size of a large motorcycle could carry hundreds of kilograms of equipment, as well as riders, and could get through urban areas with no automobile access and climb stairs, and three or four could be transported in a teleport chamber simultaneously.

242:

There are half a billion Spanish speaker. They're a bit less spread out than English speakers (if distance is a proxy for energy operating costs that's not unimportant).

Two mega-cities and a mega-village?

As an English speaker I'm not sure I'd be happy to be sharing my mega-city with people who think the NHS is evil. Delighted to do business with them or go watch a ball game together. Less happy about sharing tax and spend decisions.

243:

What would drive such a fragmentation?

One attraction of cities has long been the range of options they offer. A billion-strong city is going to offer 2-3 orders of magnitude more of that than today's metropolises. It's going to be a whole new level of cosmopolitan.

What countervailing mechanism would fragment such a city?

The only guide we have right now is the Internet: there's half a billion English-speaking people on-line, We don't all speak to everyone else all the time, but we do have the opportunity to speak to anyone at any time; a common interest or any other bond, and we make a mailing list, hashtag, blog or tumblr. There are few forces that would wish to Balkanise the Internet, and fewer still that could plausibly attempt to do so.

For better or worse, the booths would make the world one place.

244:

Charlie, I think you're reinvented the American style mall. Buildings will quickly get designed around this, yes, combining the mall and the train station. Imagine a large indoor space with transfer booths at the center; (expensive or small) shops and light dining will be nearby; more businesses will be close at hand, possibly with anchor department stores or a Tesco. Outside there would be more businesses and some apartment buildings (but not vast car parks); the draw of teleporter access falls off with distance.

It will probably be cost effective to retrofit some existing malls.

This will become less common as booths become more common and everyone is one hop away from a mall or High Street. Once cities are designed around teleporters the way American cities have been designed around cars, we'll doubtless see neighborhoods clustering around the booth station. The only things you need are residences and such things as don't call for a booth hop: corner shops, bars, a school, one Tesco, etc. This kind of neighborhood begins to resemble the bedroom community of some parts of the US - houses, not much else, and a lack of infrastructure or soul. Existing neighborhoods in cities will probably survive this fairly well, if only because they already have buildings for small businesses and local commerce; new-built areas and car-oriented suburbs, not so much.

Schools. Nobody's mentioned this yet. At the elementary school level (~6-12 yo) the schools had better be in the local neighborhood. Expect the occasional seven year old to teleport to Zaire and not know how he did it or where he lives. For older kids, maybe not; I don't know how much economics of scale exist in running a high school. At least some will commute to specialty schools. And at 17, when you miss school it's not because you got lost, it's because you chose to fuck off for the day. In upper education it may be difficult for small no-name schools to get along, or maybe we'll just see a lower college / upper university divide.

245:

There's a more-or-less continuous range, I was using "billion" as a rough measure of the top end. As you say, there's around half a billion of Spanish speakers and also of Hindustani and Arabic, quarter of a billion each of Bengali and Russian speakers, and so on.

246:

Know what's funny?

Sufficiently good telepresence will have almost the same consequences as teleportation.

247:

@232:
Over the longer term (10-50 years) this is going to have a profoundly corrosive effect on national governments that define citizenship by territory rather than by nativity.

--

Let, oh, the island of Jersey offer Jersey citizenship to anyone who would pay a modest tax or annual fee for the privilege of being a Jersey citizen. You could wind up with a nation whose majority of residents had never set foot on their "native" land.

Your GNP is no longer tied to the physical aspect of being a rock in the middle of an ocean; you don't need "lebensraum" for your population, and all of your production can be Not In My Back Yard. So the "nation" becomes a group of voluntarily affiliated citizens, not a geographic area.

Of course, once it was shown to work, other nations might offer the same deal, leading to citizens choosing their country by what their country could do for them, not what they could do for their country.

All it would take is *one* EU nation to spread its citizenship around, and you might wind up with, say, 200 million profitable, tax-paying citizens of, oh, Finland or Luxembourg, which would make EU power politics... interesting.

248:

@235:
Imagine a future Apple Store. The storefront is a glassy cube with a produce display surrounding ... a teleport.

---

Following that train of thought... you only need *one* Apple Store. It would be cheaper to drop a booth into an area that had a high enough customer density than it would be to build another store.

For that matter, you'd only need one of a lot of types of businesses, at least as long as they could be effectively managed at whatever size they needed to be.

Side effect: with only one store, any problem affects all your business, simultaneously.

249:

Slashdot Effect: pursuant to some news story or tweet, half a million incoming visitors overwhelm local resources. Food stockpiles are depleted and can't be renewed while the booths are jammed up with incoming people; accomodations filled up long ago, people are crapping in the bushes because the sewer system gave up a few hundred thousand flushes ago.

Though people could flick in at a whim, flicking them back *out* takes organization, and probably a lot more time to set up than incoming. You have a massive footballer-style scrum of people who want to leave jamming the gate terminus, and one local constable trying not to get crushed.

250:

Don't worry! The English speakers who think NHS is evil are usually the same people who think suburbs and small towns are Good and all cities are Bad. They won't end up in your real English gigacity. They'll end up in the fake English gigacity which will be for the most part a humongous office park / business park made up of more or less contiguous buildings like these:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Corporate_Center

Oh, and by the way, y'all are using the word "English speaker" as if there were no such thing on the Internet as an English _reader_ or an English reader /writer who doesn't speak English much.

I'm not an English speaker. I wouldn't want to live or work in any English gigacity, or any existing English city for that matter. I suspect there are a lot of English - literate people on the Internet who have the same feelings as I do on this. Don't confuse English culture with the global language called English. There are common points but they're not the same thing.

251:

You'd think there would be a system to prevent that, an algorithm that counts the enters\exits and shuts the gate once population density rises above threshold.

252:

Not read all of the comments - so apologies if I'm repeating other folk.. I assume *somebody* must have talked about the Larry Niven shorts by now so I won't. Other stuff that occur to me.

1) Neighbourhoods are going to become networks. Suddenly the night club in Manchester is just as accessible as the one in Brighton. That nice restaurant in Paris becomes as easy to get to as the one down the road. The gay friendly parts of Brighton, Bournemouth, New York and San Francisco are suddenly a unit. French Canadians, France, and the French speaking bits of africa are next door to each other. And so on.

2) You're going to see some of the changes we've seen in social interaction online happening offline as we start packet switching people. That's going to cause really nice things to happen (the twenty fans world wide of that obscure 70s band that released one album are going to be able to go down the pub together every Thursday night) and really nasty ones (the online rantings of some neo-nazi idiots are going to turn into a meet up, a booze up, and a serious rumble as they decide to jaunt over to the nearest black/gay/jewish/whatever network.

3) I've just realised that using "jaunting" to refer to teleportation has placed me in time and space among SF fandom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tomorrow_People :-)

4) As neighbourhoods become distributed into networks their borders get much longer. More borders lead to more possible areas of conflict. Especially as neighbourhoods can now expand non-locally. It's no longer a case of a border expanding or contracting - you can have a point source explode into popularity potentially anywhere in the world and bring two communities with no previous interactions together suddenly.

5) We might see a reversal of the physical co-location of people with similar views as travel times drop. A breakdown of the red/blue state thing in the US for example.

6) Security becomes focused around the physical infrastructure and technology of the jaunting booths, rather than the travellers (assuming that they're set up so that if you take over a booth you can potentially send/receive arbitrary stuff to arbitrary locations). The cost for materials is easily within the reach of drug cartels for example. Cost of power is a different issue of course.

7) People security can become massively centralised. Suddenly you don't have to have the searching/scanning/interviewing infrastructure co-located with every possible entry point into the country. Any suspicious character enters a booth and they, and anybody their with, suddenly ends up at the the very secure Interviewing Central at Dartmoor (or wherever). No muss. No fuss. You'll get the same thing happening with local police holding cells. In nasty places people regularly "disappear"...

8) Family ties get stronger because it's more likely people will stay in physical contact? Uncle Adrian can always do the babysitting since he's just a jaunt or two away.

9) Supermarkets and large chain stores will run their own networks and centralise warehousing. Ditto for FedEx. Ditto for postal services. Amazon will roll out shop fronts to their warehouses. Infiltration of these private networks by naughty people will become a serious issue.

10) Some serious rethinking has to happen about how public sports/media events are organised. Suddenly *every* Manchester United fan is an hour or two away from every match. In the short term this is going to drive the prices of tickets for sports events, concerts, etc. upwards and exclude a lot of "normal" fans.

Ten things is probably enough for now. Actual work to do :-)

253:

Oh, that reminds me. Energy is frame of reference dependent. To the perspective of a fast moving observer, the energy requirements are very different.

254:

Who hosts the Olympics in a post booth world?

Other than the municipal council of Mons Olympus.

255:

On schools: you're assuming our current developed-world tiered collective education infrastructure and certification agencies survive. That's an entirely different discussion, but it's worth noting that the higher education bubble we're currently seeing (and the drive towards distance learning where possible) is coevolving with what is effectively a collapse in information transmission/communication crashes. What does it mean for schooling if catchment areas for schools are decoupled from physical geography? What does it mean for university/higher education if students no longer need to travel more than 15 minutes from home to reach a centre of learning?

256:

Question: what are we going to do when aliens try to visit us by the teleportation network?

257:
Oh, and by the way, y'all are using the word "English speaker" as if there were no such thing on the Internet as an English _reader_ or an English reader /writer who doesn't speak English much.

I'm not an English speaker. I wouldn't want to live or work in any English gigacity, or any existing English city for that matter.

Well, if you don't speak English, you wouldn't be part of the English-speaking gigacity.

We're using the phrase quite carefully as the most likely "next barrier" when geography is eliminated. The world wouldn't become a single community of of 7 billion people; it would become two 1-billion+ communities, three half-billion ones, and so on. These would overlap in people who speak two or more languages.

Such a gigacity isn't so much a single culture as a single range of opportunities: if you speak English, you can take jobs in English-speaking companies, go to English-language parties, clubs, talks, lectures, meet up with English-speaking like-minded people even if your hobby is so obscure it only interests a hundred people in the whole world.

(Similarly for any other language, at least if it's reasonably wide-spread; you don't say which language(s) you do speak...)

Many of the social effects would be quite similar to a city, only on a larger scale, so we're using "gigacity" as somewhat of a metaphor.

258:

I think there are booth system capacity issues and /or capital cost constraints that restrict non-geographic school catchement areas. Depending on your assumptions on cycle time these booths can transports multiples of hundreds of people per hour. That's if each batch of a dozen or so people are going to the same place.

So if you want to send your child to a specialist school that no one else within a couple of klicks goes to then your trying to out bid batches of dozens of people who want to go anywhere in London for use of your local booth.

259:

Not really. Firstly, the way the discussion has been going, the consensus seems to be that the postulated capital cost is so low that capacity will not be a problem. These things will be everywhere and the utilisation will be moderate at best.

Secondly, there's always the multi-hop possibility, like changing trains in a traditional metro system. Your child takes one hop from the local booth to an interchange, then maybe several hops among interchanges (with possibly some walking or escalators), then a final hop to the school's booth. That way each of the hops would be in a group of a dozen people going in the same direction.

260:

On schools: you're assuming our current developed-world tiered collective education infrastructure and certification agencies survive.

Good point. I started at the bottom, when I realized that smaller kids should still walk to school. (What scheme for those who can't? Must they be escorted by an adult? Destination-restricted user cards for kids and others the authorities don't trust?) Once a child is twelve or fourteen they're old enough to go downtown by themselves, and it doesn't matter how far away 'downtown' is in kilometers.

We're already seeing some of this. Many employers in the US have no idea how to evaluate a degree from the Mumbai University; this will only get worse with increased ease of travel. There will certainly be factions, groups that don't care what certificate you got but want it from the "right" source; some will be reasonable (Catholic priests need to be okayed by the Vatican), others not so much (Libertarians vetted by Ron Paul, maybe?). This is already happening; the transfer booth would only accelerate the question.

On the other hand, wouldn't it be cool to go to university in Oxford? It's a beautiful city. I've never taken classes there because it's thousands of kilometers away; put a transfer booth in my neighborhood and I could walk to lectures at the Sheldonian Theatre...

So we can anticipate that some institutions won't be able to handle the load. Every aspiring veterinarian in North America just won't fit on the Texas A&M campus.

261:

RepRap becomes an alternative history McGuffin, not a revolutionary breakthrough. No point having distributed generalised manufacturing when everywhere is 20 minutes from the factory.

On the other hand, the factory could be anywhere - no point locating on the M25 unless you need to handle really bulky cargo. A combination of boutique specialisation and category killer dynamics.

Regarding cities, there are two opposed dynamics - the scale-free network, and the sprawl temptation. Although what you have described sounds like a mesh network, in practice they tend to turn into scale-free networks with some nodes exhibiting increasing returns to scale. A lot of that will be driven by cities, although if there are (see the rest of the thread) reasons to make intermediate stops there will be some surprises, like the FedEx airmail centre in Anchorage. That will tend to drive super-metropolitan development.

Free transport within a structure, as you say, would mean that you might decide to build in the middle of nowhere, arguing for sprawl.

But the two forces are opposed and it's far from clear which one wins.

If you want a small scale example, consider what might have happened if the Aramis PRT system had been deployed in Paris.

262:

User-interface point. I'm not getting in one if the control panel where the destination is entered isn't INSIDE the booth.

263:

The capital costs are low but not trivial.

For the same capacity as a two platform single line Tube station the capital investment is around £1bn to £2bn.

I see how laying out the system so people aggregate into groups heading the same way helps with the co-ordination issue. It makes the experience sound more like the Tube (faster, broader, more flexible & better) to mr. Which is great but it's still a sweaty hour long commute.

What is easier to do might be have your drama class visited by an outreach programme of the RSC once a week.

264:

Hijacker! Get him!

265:

There is a political question about how we deal with the issue of limited capacity & rationing.

Do we solve it by pricing - tending towards auctions for slots for transmit & receive.

Do we use a queuing system - first come, first served?

Do we chose a state mediated or a co-op mediated solution?

Secondary question. How do we deal with differences if opinion on rationing models?

266:

From the south coast of England to the Lake District, just short of the Scottish border, the train journey is usually hellish. It's horribly expensive, and typically the only space is to sit on the floor outside the toilet. You'll be sharing with youngsters playing awful music badly encoded and played on tinny mobile phone speakers. Heaven help you if you board a train run by the wrong operator for your ticket. You can reserve seats if you order in advance, then you have to a) find it and b) evict the person sitting in it - and then sit next to their aggrieved friends. If you dare to travel on a public holiday it's even worse, plus you'll probably have to travel by bus for part of the way. Don't even think about bringing a bike, and keep luggage to a minimum plus don't let it out of your sight even for a moment. Bring your own refreshments.

267:

Ah, 'jaunting' predates that program by the better part of two decades.

268:

The British railway network is the crappiest value for money of any rail network in Europe -- largely because it's run as a cash cow to funnel government subsidies to private donors corporations, rather than run as an integrated transport network.

To make matters worse, it's just good enough that passenger load factor is rising, leading to the unpleasant experiences Phil mentioned.

My wife didn't take driving lessons until she was 40 ... thanks to a seven hour train journey she'd paid serious money for and which turned out to be seven hours of standing, each way. And after my last couple of journeys, despite not enjoying driving, I went and dropped a not inconsiderable amount of money to upgrade my car from a 16 year old to something more comfortable because I anticipate using it rather more over the next couple of years. Because if you can't read or work comfortably in a railway seat, and it costs twice as much as driving and takes a comparable length of time on most routes, what's the point of not driving?

269:

@261:
That will tend to drive super-metropolitan development.

--

I disagree. Shortly after gate technology becomes available at 40m a pop, cities are stone dead.

Cities exist because of travel time. When a gate is instantaneous, the only real travel factor is the distance between gates. There's no reason you couldn't work at a brokerage in London, hit the pub in Yucatan, visit your Mum in Loch Dubh, and sleep in your survivalist fortress in Montana. Because the pub in Yucatan is, depending on gate availability, closer than the one across town, and Montana is closer than the London suburbs. Sure, you could gate from the City to Milton Keynes, but who would live there when they could have a nice place in Spain for 1/3 the price?

270:
Cities exist because of travel time.

That's hardly the only reason for cities. Propinquity is important (suburbs and exurbs don't make good communities, as the lack of interest in local affairs like school parent associations indicates), so is cultural and other kinds of diversity. If it's only travel time, why are so many wealthy retired people, who don't need to commute, moving into gentrified sections of cities?

In fact, the teleport could very easily distribute a city across large and varied geographic, topographic, and climatic areas instead of the classic mid-20th century vision of ocean-to-ocean suburbs. Here's a cute one: build an upscale apartment complex by sheering a cliffside flat and near vertical and cantilevering a single-apartment-thick building out from it from top to bottom. All but the bottom few floors (which could be reserved for service and storage areas) will have approximately the same view, which could be chosen to be truly spectacular. And if there are teleports on every floor, or every few floors, you don't need long distance elevators to get around the building (assuming anyone needs to except in emergencies) and you can seal off the floors to prevent air pressure drop from bottom to top. The building would be expensive to build (though the teleport would cut costs for moving materials and construction workers and equipment to the remote site), but still probably less expensive than an equivalent skyscraper because the cliffside would do most of the load-bearing. Note that a one-block area 50 story skyscraper in Manhattan cost $250 million in the mid '90s, when last I looked at the question, and a big chunk of that was for digging the hole and sinking the steel supports for the very deep foundation. I would not be surprised if a cliffside building with the same residential floorspace, somewhere around 75,000 m3, couldn't be built for half that given mature teleport technology.

271:

@252:
3) I've just realised that using "jaunting" to refer to teleportation has placed me in time and space among SF fandom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tomorrow_People :-)

---

"Jaunte" from Alfred Bester's "The Stars My Destination." A researcher named Jaunte developed a method of personal teleportation using mental powers. As long as you could visualize the proper coordinates, you could jaunte anywhere with no hardware needed.

Parts of the plotline involve people who can't jaunte (cripples, in their society), and security issues (when anyone can jaunte inside your sealed vault, the only practical defense is "security through obscurity."

It's considered one of the classics of SF, and deserves the label as far as I'm concerned.

272:

@270:
---
"Local" depends on travel time, not physical location.

Where I live, if you ask someone "How far is it to Wrightsville?" They'll reply "About an hour and a half," not how many miles away it is.

If you live a block from a gate, a restaurant near a gate in Islamabad is more "local" to you than a similar restautant ten blocks away.

273:

TRX @269 - cities aren't about travel time so much as density of interaction. Teleport booths won't change that. What they would be likely to do is move residences away from the centres of interaction. Continuing the trend that's been going on since the 1820s.

There might well be fewer, larger, city centres - maybe very few, but they will be huge. And fewer people will live in them. Those too poor to afford the booths, those who actually like living in cities, and those who really need to live where they work. Again an intensification of recent trends. Megacities, and specialist cities, won't die. What goes are suburban centres and cities too large to be easily walkable and too small to be world-class economic or cultural attractions

There will even be some reverse commuting. Maybe there are miners or farmers or rural social workers who would actually prefer to keep their jobs but live in Brighton or Buenos Aires or Beijing.

274:

Rich-world minority languages get saved.

With booths, if they want to, any Scots Gaelic or Frisian speaker can socialise and educate their kids in their own language.

275:

That's right, but my point was that dwelling density has benefits, both in economics and in common access to scarce resources like scenery. Building millions of single family homes on large lots may not really make sense given teleportation, and it certainly won't solve everyone's housing problems.

276:

Re: no radioisotopes, you may have it so that the entire package that is too radioactive fails to send: for example, during transmission, there would be as much decay as in 1 second, and if that produces too many neutrinos, the sending fails. This puts limit on how radioactive are the items you want to send, so that you can send normal materials and people but not significant amount of nuclear fuel, or anything else significantly radioactive, and the thing is not useful for nuclear waste disposal or anything of that kind.

277:

I did not mean to emphasize that the security issues would be the same as for air travel, only similar to many existing ones. I do think that this would be mostly a short-hop technology, so using the booth as a "3400 km/hr muzzle speed 1 ton bullet gun" isn't one of my concerns. On the other hand, living in Chicago right now, our public transit is pretty dysfunctional and dangerous in bad neighborhoods and without careful security and gating, the crime will spread could spread through an instantaneous network much more effectively. One of the reasons Americans prefer roads is that poor people aren't as able to use them; however awful this is, that self-serving principle isn't going to disappear with this technology.

So the solution you suggest- IDs- is one that I had in mind. I'd expect this to increase the importance of having a good reputation and increase the amount of data that law enforcement has on transportation. In terms of autos, every intersection would be outfitted with retractable tire-spikes, and everyone's license plate would be scanned and tracked at each intersection before the tire-spikes could be lowered and the light turned green. That means innovation in ID tech, including biometric security and analysis of individual traffic data. It also means intense class antagonism, but that's nothing new over here.

Building the tech straight into the booth would be another- what systems currently do that? Though because booth entry/exit will take longer than travel, the entry/exit is going to be heavily optimized-- I'd expect efficient robotics to be in charge of the loading and unloading, and the loading/unloading steps pre-teleport will do the scanning, since otherwise that would take time in which the booth could otherwise be transmitting.

And I think I'd consider anything that put the TSA out of business a security innovation, myself. The airports aren't especially secure; how many people have accidentally flown with a pocket knife? I had in mind rapid, efficient human-sorting and cargo-scanning tech more than tech for the detection of weapons on persons.

So right on, I'm with you.

278:

Transport
Yes the Brit rail system got shafted by the Major guvmint, seriously, and no-one is even trying to put it back together, even though ridership is increasing seriously, and we are FINALLY talking and doing something about electrification(!)
But - neighbourhoods ... I don't BELIEVE that, just round my local corner, a road I've known since childhood has turned itself into a gourmet centre - all beacuse ourlocal store turned itself inot a deli/"Spa" and now sells in Horrids(!)
The local "village" is filling up with arts-types, and improving things.
Wonderful.
Booths will NOT affect this.

279:
Well, if you don't speak English, you wouldn't be part of the English-speaking gigacity.

We're using the phrase quite carefully as the most likely "next barrier" when geography is eliminated. The world wouldn't become a single community of of 7 billion people; it would become two 1-billion+ communities, three half-billion ones, and so on. These would overlap in people who speak two or more languages.

It seems to be used in a fairly sloppy way to me.. Canada, US, UK, Australia and NZ, sure. Where do the rest of the "one billion" come from?

If you're counting English-as-a-second-language speakers like me and Alain(?), don't forget that English isn't the only language that it is humanely possible to learn – so I'll just offer the counterscenario of a multi-giga Chinese world-spanning city, with Anglotown as a particularly affluent suburb. Or maybe languages will start to fragment along political lines instead as people move and volontarily isolate themselves from People Who Are Wrong, or some other scenario which is unthinkable for anyone who hasn't grown up in a world that has transporters.

280:

I really like this idea. Routing everything to a single store is probably overkill, since people have a certain size that they like and they like shopping for the atmosphere of shopping districts, too, but the virtualization of interior space is definitely going to be a primary use for this tech. I see this as most important for factories and data centers, though, not consumer-locations- at least until people get more used to the "two megalopolis world" others have suggested.

For factories, you can suddenly make assembly lines that don't fit nicely into 3D space, and replacing a teleportation booth pair becomes equivalent to moving entire factory buildings. Given my personal doubts about using this as a long-distance transport tech, I don't see it enabling partially-outsourced factory design, but reconfigurable factories are already a big deal and this will revolutionize that aspect of factory design.

For data centers, you have an incredible matternet at your disposal that would be capable of moving processors just as efficiently as data. What's the latency and bandwidth of 1 ton of disk drives that only have to be disconnected, reconnected, and moved a few feet between otherwise instantaneous transfers?

And not having access to classified materials, I can't begin to imagine how this would change military base design, though I liked the idea put forth earlier about sticking these in submarines (aside from the potential energy costs). Embassies could certainly be more secure if they were abstracted from their actual locations.

281:

Embassies could certainly be more secure if they were abstracted from their actual locations.

Embassies would be, no shit Sherlock, the actual physical territory of their respective nations. Reifying a diplomatic convention might have some rather unpredictable consequences. On the other hand: no more embassy occupations like Tehran in 1979.

282:

Some more thoughts assuming essentially planetary range...

Wandering - expect a phone app that will generate random destinations within whatever parameters you set (currently in sunlight, English speakers, not under regime Foo, etc). It might have a random gathering mode, so the destination of the hour is offered, leading to stranger forms of flash crowds.

Splintering - people sharing an interest can very easily live together. In the past you've needed a fairly large population to start up a utopian community; we could see specialty gatherings. A full time SCA village is almost practical now and is easy with transfer booths. Less reasonable lifestyles will almost certainly stake out territory.

Communities and transient conventions both. Suddenly WorldCon is walking distance from home for everybody! Some conventions will balloon towards DragonCon sized messes, some small regional ones will disappear entirely; expect organizational dramas at both ends of the scale. Maybe fandom really is a way of life for some people.

Celebrities - this is a mixed bag. The folks who are very well known now already must live in isolation from the crowd, and that won't change. Wingnut stalkers can travel more easily – but so can their targets, and celebrities might spend much less time in known locales such as Hollywood. A real change comes at the level of celebrity necessary; known people such as our host have a distributed group of people find them interesting. Quite moderate levels of fame could require secrecy about one's personal life. (Lest our host get nominated for the 2033 Hugo and suddenly find SF fans lurking in every pub in Edinburgh hoping to get something signed.) A few ugly incidents might inspire a stronger right to privacy for everyone.

Time - obvious but not mentioned much yet: time zones are confusing. Expect them to fade away. People would have to specify 'local time' for some things; other events will probably be listed in 24-hour UCT. Some folks will gripe and complain; within a few years children will not understand why things like 'sunrise at 2145' were supposed to be funny.

283:

Seeking asylum in one just got a lot more practical. "I'm Wang the Chinese dissident, HELP!" "Step into the transporter."

"You last saw him entering our consulate in Lanzhou? Perhaps. And you believe we jaunted him? Prove it."

284:

Alex wrote:


Seeking asylum in one just got a lot more practical. "I'm Wang the Chinese dissident, HELP!" "Step into the transporter."
"You last saw him entering our consulate in Lanzhou? Perhaps. And you believe we jaunted him? Prove it."

This would eventually run the risk of obliterating citizenship and residency as we know it.

It is. Here fly possible to keep oppressed minorities from leaving. Not so with enough of these out there.

"where did Tibet go?" "oh, we gave them the Sierra Nevada mountains and US citizenship... They're all here now."

285:

Which raises the question of how easy it is to detect the booth operating. The energetics imply that it has a substantial IR signature, but if it's operating all the time, this might not be very useful information. If you really wanted to, you could take steps to reduce that (put it in a heavy concrete structure, insulate it, surround it with vacuum, put heat sources outside the shielding to generate fake activity).

If it's unshielded, and the heat can be measured precisely at a distance, you might be able to work out which locations the passenger might possibly have gone to, but not which one out of that set they did. "Well, we know it was somewhere with about 2 MJ more potential energy than here."

That's a good reason to have a lot of embassies, come to think of it.

286:

Also, participatory neo-colonialism (as after all the original *was* participatory - people formed companies and chartered ships and pushed off to kill the Indians and take their gold).

If I was Canada, or Mozambique, I might want to get a fair number of cheapish utility patrol aircraft like the CASA CN-295 and install a sensor suite optimised for booth detection, plus rails for a dozen anti-tank missiles.

287:

but then, so are sports stadia and railway stations and cinemas and we don't routinely see airport-level security at those venues.

But it is much more "enhanced" than before 9/11 for sporting venues in the US. For most any event over a few thousand people bags are inspected. You have to open up your coat. And many have metal detectors and wanding for everyone entering. (Of course for many the way to bupass this is get a job with the temp agency hiring the staffers for the food services and such.) (Did I just say that?)

288:

You'd think there would be a system to prevent that, an algorithm that counts the enters\exits and shuts the gate once population density rises above threshold.

Enhancement planned for network upgrade in v5.5

289:

Which raises the question of how easy it is to detect the booth operating.

It's probably possible to spot a lone booth in the middle of nowhere if it's used repeatedly. One jump from an undocumented booth? You'd have to be looking at the right moment. The booth serving Moose Fart, Alaska (population 102)? Sure, right over there.

The political question becomes less whether a particular person used the booth, but which one of the half million people teleporting through Beijing that morning was the guy you were after.

Another good way to hide a booth would be among other booths. How many units were operating in Edinburgh Waverley Teleport Station last Wednesday evening, 63 or 64? Who can tell?

Militaries and security services will worry about such things. Other factors will determine how much funding they get to throw at the question.

That's a good reason to have a lot of embassies, come to think of it.

Or not. We use embassies for a few things today. How much space for housing and emergency supplies do you need if your satellite national representation offices - all of them - are ten meters from headquarters, and also ten meters from downtown Manhattan, the London Tube, and Tokyo?

290:

"Maybe there are miners or farmers or rural social workers who would actually prefer to keep their jobs but live in Brighton or Buenos Aires or Beijing. "

Ah! You have millions of people who consider even a suburb to be a rural area, a blighted zone which they really don't want to live in. If the gate costs go down they'll be commuting daily from their job in the suburb (this includes things like university towns) to their condo in the inner city.

But I've seen no sign of Gates being less costly than a Boeing 737 so I think they'll regroup instead within a city that has urban universities instead of leafy country things like Cambridge or Urbana-Champaign.

291:

we could mine deeper underground than ever before by getting matter on the surface easily. this brings new horizons in geothermal energy extraction.

292:

It depends on how you look at it, is you compare it to the ticket price per journey then it is pretty poor, if you compare it to the total cost per journey it looks a lot better. The UK ticket price covers on average about 50% of the cost of the journey while in most European systems the ticket is about 30% of the cost of the journey, it is therefore not really surprising that the UK looks bad when compared to ticket price.

293:

"English speakers"

It seems to be used in a fairly sloppy way to me.. Canada, US, UK, Australia and NZ, sure. Where do the rest of the "one billion" come from?

Mostly, the Wikipedia lists either 1.5 or 1.8 billion English speakers, depending on which page you check... You've listed 373m. There's another 170m in the rest of EU, and roughly 100m each in India (125m), the Philippines (90m) and Nigeria (80m). That's well over 800m so far. Add Pakistan (18m), Thailand (17m), South Africa (14m) and China (10m) and you're over 900m.

If you're counting English-as-a-second-language speakers like me and Alain(?), don't forget that English isn't the only language that it is humanely possible to learn – so I'll just offer the counterscenario of a multi-giga Chinese world-spanning city, with Anglotown as a particularly affluent suburb.

Yeah, and that might well end up as a less-than-noble motivation to get the English city together quickly, to get the travel and work restrictions eased... Maybe I'm cynical about politicians, but I can see at least some being motivated by racism as long as it's deniable.

Remember, there are *already* over a billion English speakers. It's possible to learn another language, it happens all the time, but getting people in other countries to learn Mandarin Chinese by the tens and hundreds of millions is probably beyond the reach of the Chinese government.

Or maybe languages will start to fragment along political lines instead as people move and volontarily isolate themselves from People Who Are Wrong, or some other scenario which is unthinkable for anyone who hasn't grown up in a world that has transporters.

Hmm, maybe, but remember that this is not so much about actual travel as it is about travel opportunities. If you want to voluntarily isolate yourself, sure, but you'll have to explain to your colleagues and friends and relatives, you won't be able to use the "white lie" excuse of moving to another city. You can't unlearn a language.

If you're looking for a job, or for a club covering your hobby, will you really voluntarily restrict yourself along these lines? Maybe people will, but that's Belfast at the height of the Troubles, not normal behaviour.

294:

"While this tech collapses all urban areas into one planetary super-city, it's not going to have much effect on (a) rural areas, (b) suburbs and exurbs, (c) people living in underdeveloped nations outside of cities."

I grew up in a rural/small town/very small city area which is becoming exurban (Ulster County NY.) I would expect teleportation to boost the economy: better shipping for factories and farms, more people commuting to NYC, more people with summer homes.

Previous changes related to transportation have included: Economic boost from the Delaware & Hudson Canal. Farming took a hit when the Erie Canal opened; NYC markets taken by Midwestern farmers who had the unfair advantage of good soil. (Ulster County has a lot of stone fences, built because farmers had to get rid of the stones...) Cars and buses brought more summer resort customers. Later, relatively cheap airfares helped Florida grab much of the summer resort business.

Some other factors: 1) Housing is considerably cheaper than in NYC; about equal to costs in the Twin Cities area. 2) There's a long-established artist colony in Woodstock; and newer ones established by artists who've been priced out of Woodstock.

295:

Sorry; thought my similar previous comment had been drowned in the spam stream.

296:

Alternative: The teleport system is routed through another part of the multiverse, with different physical laws. This can reduce or eliminate certain problems.

If time moves faster, or backwards, in the other universe, this makes fast travel simpler.

Of course, there would be some minor problems.

297:

Charlie: Fuck. That is goddamn nuts.

The Cold War was something else. I remember learning at age 10, or so, that we were 30 minutes from ICBM's on DC and a all out exchange. I wonder why I didn't get heavily into nihilism?

298:

One interesting contrast between the two gigacities will be that while Mandarin Chinese speakers are already predominantly under one government

Except that that isn't true. The Chinese diaspora is huge, it just doesn't stand out to English speakers the way the English one does. From what I recall about half the mandarin speaking population live in China. There are sizable bodies of mandarin speakers in just about every country in Asia (broadly defined, I mean the bit between Istanbul and Vladivostok) and they live under governments ranging from right wing democracies to socialism-gone-wild. Sheesh, even the US has about two million of them.

299:

Larry Niven used this in two related stories: Flash Crowd and The Last Days of the Permanent Floating Riot Club

300:

I wonder how long it will take for the momentum problem to be solved? I suspect that would be the subject of intense research. Likewise, cycle times. If you can build a "pipeline" consisting of transportable units that move effectively continuously it'd be possible to have a railway line that jumped between booths. Or move any bulk solid the same way. Even without directly extracting the GPE difference in transit it might be feasible to have a hydro dam in one place with a booth at the bottom of the lake, and the generator somewhere else. Say, in a big city where there's demand for both power and fresh water.

Hmm. 3mx3m is about 20 people, cycle every 30s, 2500 people/hour or 60,000 a day. Per booth. All it takes is a pair of booths in, say, Sudan and London, and you have a significant refugee problem. I'd like to think we'd solve that by rapidly equalising conditions around the world, but I suspect we would do it by killing people found illegally in most countries. And probably by blowing up rogue booths.

Also, think of the profit in global roaming charges! A whole bunch of industries would be forced to go global right now because of these booths.

One interesting effect might be a race to the bottom on pollution rights. It would be cheaper to buy a small country than pay for cleanup in a rich one, so you could well see an entire country operating as the dump of last resort. Just a collection of dump booths where anything at all comes out of the door (in the bottom, obviously) and no-one asks inconvenient questions.

The mafia involvement would be in having a transportable booth and renting large warehouses for short periods before unfortunately the tenant company goes bankrupt leaving behind a warehouse full of unmentionables. Or put the booth on a boat, then operate it permanently in international waters.

A little more of that sort of creativity and I suspect we would see one world government out of sheer necessity. It would probably not be much like the state-based model we see today, and I wonder if we'd see "provinces" based on communities of interest rather than physical location.

301:

Wikipedia reckons that "over" 70% of the Chinese population speaks Mandarin, so that's some 938m. Meanwhile, the total number of Mandarin speakers is 1020m or 1120m, depending on which page you check. That makes it either 92% or 84% — either way, I still claim that "predominantly" is a reasonable word...

Compared to the total numbers, 2m in the US is pretty irrelevant, like the 2m English speakers in Croatia.

302:

I think people are missing fundamental social questions here.

This isn't "teleporters wat do"

This is "what if the entire starving population of Africa suddenly had cheap or free (via oprah Winfrey 2.0) transport to wealthy countries"

Or any number of similar situations. Occupy wall street just became unmanageable. It is also trivial for billionaires to set up their own networks. The airports are only as controlled as they are due to the space required for planes to land. If that became the size of an elevator, it would be simple for any billionaire to bring the entire population of a country somewhere for political reasons. Want to collapse an economy? Fill it with meat bodies.

Once the network is established you are looking at ten dollars a head to fill empty seats at political events. Another ten dollars a head you can pay them to cheer you on.

Political rival going to be somewhere? Bring 2000 third world friends and ruin the event.

We are talking real life denial of service attacks on a grand scale.

I don't see any current economy surviving in this mess.

I think one large decentralized currency would result, but as the current world economy is built around extorting cheap foreign labor for gain in rich regions, with things like regional price fixing and import tariffs, I think the current financial system would have to be dragged into this kicking and screaming. This would be the end of concepts like first and third world. They become your neighbors.

20 years in and we wouldn't recognize the world anymore.

303:

This is "what if the entire starving population of Africa suddenly had cheap or free (via oprah Winfrey 2.0) transport to wealthy countries"

Suppose that the booth only allowed valid documented individuals to be transported to the receiver? Then the borders remain intact. There is no need to assume that teleport travel will be unrestricted.

304:

If the booth costs of the order of a civil jet, I'm not clear why it would make sense to replace shop fronts.

Booths would make most sense as replacements for public transport and cargo terminals until the costs decline.

305:

sabik@ 293
Where do the rest of the English speakers come from?Err, S Africa & India - there's another "bilion" straight off.

English is a LOT EASIER TO LEARN than Mandarin - which is a (euw) tonal language, still using revised-cuneiform ideographic script.
Whereas English uses, you know, an alphabet.

306:

Yeah, it uses an alphabet, sure, but it doesn't use it right!

English uses unaccented, unmarked letters when (if it did things right) it should be placing little thingies to mark just where you're supposed to make the stress in a word. You know, those little thingies they use in English dictionaries to tell you where to put the stress.

That's one of the many reasons you can't "map" English usage on the Internet to usage of neonet-connected teleport booths and then "easily" extrapolate the civilizations that would come from this.

307:
"what if the entire starving population of Africa suddenly had cheap or free (via oprah Winfrey 2.0) transport to wealthy countries"

Suppose that the booth only allowed valid documented individuals to be transported to the receiver? Then the borders remain intact.

Sure, but if a billionaire bypasses that restriction somehow, it's not much use...

For that matter, what if Anonymous bypasses that restriction? A billionaire would need some sort of reasonable motive, a plan to gain more from it than would be lost through such a blatant, highly visible violation of the law.

Anonymous doesn't need that, they can just do it for the lulz.

308:

How many units were operating in Edinburgh Waverley Teleport Station last Wednesday evening, 63 or 64? Who can tell?

Booth in a truck, park up outside? Long-term concealment would require an independent power supply, of course, as otherwise you'd be vulnerable to the classic urban cannabis farm investigation trick of asking the power company.

309:

Cheers - Memory of details was hazy due to having read from Triplanetary through Second Stage Lensman (including the licenced story that tells the story of the defence of the Moon during the events of First Lensman) in the space of about 3(three) days at Christmas.

310:

Para (1) - Meaning that you take off from an airport in one country and land at one in another. You don't cross an international frontier, but you do fly from one country to another.

Para (2) - If you get an off-peak train and don't need to do anything more that chat, read or listen to music, the trip can be fairly pleasant, if the service is on time. A peak hours train leaving London and that you need to work on, that gets delayed due to, say, vandalism, can be utterly horrible though.

311:

Perhaps also the phsychological effects of, in an an aircraft you are trapped and cannot run or hide, whereas on the ground, at least in theory, you can hide, run etc. So the aircraft feels more like a trap.

Anyway, if the technology permits denial of service attacks, what is to stop countries or rampaging mobs simply destroying most teleporters and putting the rest under proper control? Sure, new ones can be smuggled in in dribs and drabs, but if enough of the populace are in opposition to it, it would turn into an organised crime problem rather than a country collapse problem.

312:

Assuming that the booths operate best by swapping payloads. Assuming, also, that the network is optimal as a series of short hops in the right general direction, rather than longer point to point hops and therefore the booths are organised in semi-dynamic “lines” then this is how I would price things, if I was EasyBooth.

Imagine a route from Aberdeen to London. Booth 1 in Bon Accord Street shunts to Booth 2 in Forfar, Booth 2 shunts to Booth 3 in Edinburgh South, and so on. At each stop the front and back of the booth open like a service lift. People getting off go out the front. People getting on come in through the back. People going from Aberdeen stay in the booth system, shunting from booth to booth until they reach their destination.

Priority 1 passengers – get the first next available space. You’re standing in a short queue in Forfar. 14 people arrive from Aberdeen, you get on to make a full booth of 15. If there are no spaces you wait for the next shunt – in about a minute. A service for people who want to get there as soon as possible and don’t want to wait in a queue much.

Priority 2 passengers – can only get on if there are no P1 passengers waiting, but once they are on they can stay on until they reach their destination. P1 and P2 passengers are treated the same once they get on the system. A service for people who are prepared to trade waiting in a waiting room for cash but don’t want a long journey.

Priority 3 passenger – can only get on if there are no other queues waiting their stop and must get off at every hop. A service for the time rich but the cash poor.

I’d flex the price for P1 and P2 passengers depending on load. If the P2 queue is long then the price for P1 tickets goes up.

This allows the operators to extract lots of cash from those willing to pay but minimise the amount of water being shunted around the line. P3 passengers become your water-in-a-meat-sack balance.


Up to date service information would allow me to pay for priority only where I needed to. If I could see that the service from Aberdeen to Edinburgh was currently half empty I take a P3 ticket to Edinburgh then change to a P2 ticket to London.

There is, of course a P0, for people rich enough to buy out the network for a bit and travel alone and make more use of the dynamic route structures.

313:

@280:
I can't begin to imagine how this would change military base design,

---

J.E.B. Stuart famously said that "Victory goes to the one who gets there firstest with the mostest." I was three volumes into Churchill's history of WWII when I realized most of his discussion was about logistics. My brother recently retired from the USAF; his career field was basically "tactical logistics." And, depending on whose story you accept, the internet evolved from a system developed for the US Army to communicate with its suppliers. It takes a *lot* of people to support a single combat soldier, aircraft, or armored vehicle, and most of those are involved in logistics - fuel, parts, weapons, food, all have to arrive at the right place at the right time.

Previous comments have already mentioned supplying submarines or dropping portable gates onto the battlefield, but as you've pointed out, gates would dramatically affect the support infrastructure. Logistics are a big chunk of military expenditure; not only are gates dirt cheap (by military standards) as well as secure and instantaneous, they also mean a big chunk of the support infrastructure just... goes away. You're talking about a significant savings in money once a reasonable gate network is in place, enough to buy new shiny toys instead of paying for truck drivers, fork lift operators, etc.

314:

@282:
Splintering - people sharing an interest can very easily live together

--

In the USA, there are already entire communities centered around golf courses, airstrips, or race tracks, which are common property maintained by residence fees. Of course, there have long been communities based around art, common religious practices, senior citizens, etc.

Back in the '60s Mack Reynolds postulated urban communities (skyscraper/habitats) centered around common interests - cooking, music, etc.

315:

@300:

I wonder how long it will take for the momentum problem to be solved?

---

You're moving gate to gate; your motion relative to the sending gate is zero. Since you're not actually moving through the intervening space, your motion relative to the receiving gate should also be zero, the way I look at it.

If you're moving *only* in relation to the sending gate, then you'd have to account for momentum.

So whether you'd worry about momentum would depend on whether the gates were relative to each other, or the receivin gate was just a convenient site for the cargo to wind up.


As a minor aside, previous discussion mentioned either wormholes or data transmission as possible methods. Modern physics seems to be trending toward looking at particles with information theory. If I remember right, that was the mcguffin used in wossname's "Moving Mars". Instead of boring a hole in spacetime or destructively scanning someone, you just persuade all their component subatomic particles that they're really "over there" instead of "right here."

316:

On the other hand, wouldn't it be cool to go to university in Oxford? It's a beautiful city. I've never taken classes there because it's thousands of kilometers away; put a transfer booth in my neighborhood and I could walk to lectures at the Sheldonian Theatre...

However, the chance of Oxford rescinding the residence requirements in the next hundred years or so are ... slim.[*] You've got to spend 9 terms living within 3 miles of Carfax as an undergraduate to qualify for a degree. Similarly for postgrads, but only three terms, unless you already did your residence requirement as an undergraduate.

(Also, sorry to burst your bubble, but the Sheldonian is not used for lectures. Musical performances, degree ceremonies and the like: yes, but work-a-day lectures, no.)

[*] This is the University whose response to the local council threatening to compulsorily purchase some land for road building purposes was to point out a still in-force 14thC Act of Parliament that said the Council didn't have the power to do that.

317:

All this shuttling of people around...and yet won't this be obsoleted by tele-presence and surrogates. At some point just moving the materiel around makes more sense in our universe.

I also wonder if the large [27 m3] size is counterproductive. Wouldn't it be faster to have point to point transfer of a single person (or small groups) rather than small busloads? The problems of car pooling come to mind. I could see endless walking from line to line as you get routed through hubs. What about a self driving car that takes you to the booth and thence to your final destination? It can handle any intermediate routing at large terminals if necessary.

Would all the queuing at various hubs encourage the efficiency of megacities rather than distributed rural living as the routing looks more like existing public transport systems and walking/public transport is still needed?

318:

TRX @215: You just broke special relativity and conservation of energy.

If it only works by an exact exchange of mass you get our of some of that. But then would we have to guarantee an exact exchange of heat energy as well? Of electric charge? If not we still break the rules. Evven assuming the universe magically copes with tiny excesses of quantumier stuff like nuclear binding forces or spin?

As for spin, which way up are you when you get to the other booth? And why? What happens if you are rotating and the thing you are swapped for isn't? Ought travellers to pray that there isn't a large gyrocompass in the other booth?

319:

Alex @316: "All this shuttling of people around...and yet won't this be obsoleted by tele-presence and surrogates. At some point just moving the materiel around makes more sense in our universe."

Why bother to move people to the store when you can move goods to people? As others said upthread, you can have virtual shopfronts all over the place, with samples of the goods on offer (one of the reasons this works better than internet shopping or mail order) but when customers want to buy something it all comes just in time from wherever it is made or warehoused.

The Argos business model just merged with the Amazon business model.

Moving people is expensive and has security and insurance implications, moving retail goods is a lot easier for anything much smaller than a van. You don't *want* your customers turning up at your Grand Central Warehouse in large numbers. If there are millions of them, just at random some will be drunk, violently insane, or have a heart attack on your preises.

320:
It's cheaper to lift solar panels to GEO than buy them land in Arizona or southern California. More expensive to microwave beam the power down after but given 24x7 insolation space solar probably is a near or immediate win.

Why would you want to do this? Oil, coal, natural gas - they all generate on the order of 50 MJ/kg with the usual adverse side effects. Teleporting one kilogram of rock from the asteroid belt to Earth? That generates on the order of 500 MJ/kg, if I can trust a mental BOTEC. And it's just rock, so there's very little in the way of environmental costs to account for.

As I said before, cheap, limitless pollution-free energy will be the biggest consequence for us planet-bound types.

321:

For the guys who want to focus on space travel - this thing allows you to effectively buy and sell momentum. So you can have a momentum futures market that can be manipulated in all the usual ways by speculators.

One more societal consequence: In my not-so-humble opinion, you don't see nearly as much large scale protesting as the political/economic conditions may warrant because the most effective protestors have been safely bottled up in the suburbs. This gizmo changes all that. Picture 50 million Americans of the Right Kind mobilized and marching on Washington when the looters get yet more special treatment at their expense from the pols.

322:

All this shuttling of people around...and yet won't this be obsoleted by tele-presence and surrogates. At some point just moving the materiel around makes more sense in our universe.

Telepresence is over-sold. It gets you a restricted field of vision plus two audio signals. It doesn't get you haptic feedback (the way your business oppo shake hands), smell, immersive video, heat, or a hell of a lot else. It also imposes social constraints on meetings insofar as you can't just take off and go have an ad-hoc get together in a coffee shop or pub. I've done video conferencing in business meetings in the 1990s (leasing a trans-Atlantic line! expensive!) and it was basically crap.

Also, people enjoy going to new places and exploring. Whenever new tech comes along that lowers the price of travel, more people use it to travel -- whether they "need" to or not. (Defining "need" in purely utilitarian terms.)

323:

Why bother to move people to the store when you can move goods to people?

Thus speaks the utilitarian pragmatist who doesn't enjoy shopping as a recreational pursuit. (Let me guess: you're a non-unconventional westerner and you own a "Y" chromosome?)

Many people only shop under duress. But many more actively enjoy foraging for stuff. A lot of our retail infrastructure is designed to push reward buttons buried deep in our heritage -- I don't want to come over all ev. psych. here, but I suspect shops will survive the advent of teleportation, although some aspects of the retail experience will be dented. After all: you can order all your groceries from the supermarket on-line already. So why don't we all do that?

324:

This is basically equivalent to the sneakernet principle, isn't it?

If you can move bulk storage media fast enough, the bandwidth will always beat any networking technology. If you need to upload a really huge dataset into Amazon EC2, you can actually ship them a physical hard disk drive and they'll slurp it - because if the dataset is huge and your Internet connection isn't as good as CERN's, it's worth doing it that way.

Obviously, this isn't suited to all forms of communication. But in this case, where moving a person any distance is pseudoinstant and cheap, why would you bother with telepresence when you could just ship the real experience? Just call a meeting.

Amazon Web Services' April Fool this year was an API that returned you the EC2 machine instance you configured - as in, the actual physical server, delivered to you by a repurposed fractional-orbit bombardment system. In this 'verse, that would be a real product.

325:

I've done video conferencing in business meetings in the 1990s (leasing a trans-Atlantic line! expensive!) and it was basically cr@p. even before you get people like me who actively seek out places out of the cameras' field of view.

326:

Or try video-conferencing when you're dealing with the borderline sociopath who will pointedly ignore and talk over anyone not physically present in the same room.

327:

@267 @271 You're both quite right. I can't believe I forgot about that!

328:

Most US citizens will not want to give up their private cars, ever, no matter what. Because of that most teleport stations will be installed for car trafic / transfer in the US.

I think Detroit will oblige by making cars that fold up their front and back ends (boot/trunk, hood/bonnet) to fit neatly into that 3 by 3 by 3 meter teleport booth without the passengers stepping out of the car. The M.I.T. folding city car prototype can actually fit into a smaller space than a teleport booth.

State highway departments have huge budgets for minor and major road repair and overhauls. At 40 million a gate they could install dozens of them where you currently see toll pay plazas. But instead of stopping just to pay a car would stop in the booth to pay and to get teleported across the state or across the USA or over to Hawaii or Alaska or to the US Moonbases.

329:

My experience of video conferencing and tele conferencing is that it works okay if you are dealing with people you know and who are largely on your side and if everyone plays by the rules of not talking over each other and remembering that not everyone on is in the same room. I’ve not found them work so well in situations where I didn’t know the other people or where there was conflict.

They are also quite hard work. Partly this is because the data isn’t as pure as in a face to face meeting. You have to listen harder to get over the fizz in the line. The data is also not as rich. You don’t get the full spectrum of body language and so. You have to concentrate hard to fill this in. (One reason why I find them better for talking to people I know, is that I can fill more of the non-verbal communication by paying attention to knowm manerisms of theirs.)

If I could be in the same room as them for a trivial sum of money and a trivial amount of time I would.

(And, in a post-booth world, I’d have people on my behalf pester the likes of the TSA until I can get up from my desk in Edinburgh and walk to my colleagues desk in Boston to look over their shoulder at something on their screen without being treated like a threat.)

330:

Charlie, you're missing the point. With teleportation you still get to go to the shop, you still meet other shoppers, you still see and feel the goods - but you can do it locally because they they only keep one of each there. Then when you buy either your goods are is shipped instantly from wherever they make or store it into your hand or to your home or else you walk out with the display item and they simply replace it for the other customers.

In fact because the shops take up less space you can get round a lot more of them in a short walk so recreational shoppers prefer it this way.

As for not liking shopping, well I like shopping for fun things. Like food and drink. And books and music. And shiny toys (like computers and phones and DVD players and kitchen equipment and brightly coloured pens). I don't like shopping for boring things like toilet paper and washing-up liquid and (being a bloke as you know) clothes.

"After all: you can order all your groceries from the supermarket on-line already. So why don't we all do that?"

As I said: " you can have virtual shopfronts all over the place, with samples of the goods on offer (one of the reasons this works better than internet shopping or mail order)" Food shopping is fun and useful because you get to see and smell and handle the food. I would not want to rely on deliveries, I'd never be sure what I was getting. And clothes are a minefield - lots of them sound OK but when you actually get a look at them you realise you wouldn't want to wear them. This is perhaps another bloke thing. But I'd be very reluctant to buy clothes sight unseen unless I had no way to avoid it. That's just one reason. Other reasons (for me at any rate):

- a lot of my shopping is impulse buys. I don't know I want to buy it until I see it. Especially applies to food and to books, probably my two largest monthly retail purchases. Also to electric shiny toys, not that I spend that much on them. And I want it *now* If I wait for it to be delivered I might not want it any more.

- most on-line shopping websites are crap. Boring, slow, full of irrelevant information. And they want you to sign away your soul in pixels before they will even deal with you. And they give you lots of horrid ads. And they obfuscate prices. I'm a technophile. I spend hours online every day. I can hardly bear to use Amazon, and I can't bear to use Ebay, and the big food retailers sites are tedious beyind words. (Nor can I often bear to use their self-checkout lanes in supermarkets. I have an aversion to being told what to do by an angry machine with a whiny voice)

- I live and work in London. That's a very big city. I pass all sorts of shops in my daily life. Why order food from a warehouse when I can get it by going less than a hundred metres out of my way? Unless its South Indian food in which case I catch the bus to work right outside a row of seven shops all selling the stuff - I can buy fresh ginger and coconuts and lemon grass seventy paces from my front door (I counted). OK, most people don't live in inner urban areas, but millions of us do.

- and most importantly of all, I live on my own and I have a full-time job. So I am not at home during the hours of delivery vans. As I also go to the pub, visit friends, go for walks, visit people outside London at weekends, follow my local football team, go to church, go to political meetings, do skiffy fannish things, I'm not often awake at even during the hours of not delivery vans. Getting things delivered is bloody inconvenient. I have to stay in. I might have to take time off work. When the delivery doesn't come or is late (as it all too often is) I'm stuffed. Its worth it for things costing hundreds of pounds but not for regular groceries.

If I didn't have a job, or if I worked from home, or I was a lot poorer than I am now, or if I had a wife who did not go out to work (how common is that these days anyway? not much in London), or if I had kids still at home I wanted to spend time with or needed to look after, or if I lived in a rural area or outer suburban area far from shops, things would be different. But they aren't.

And - back on topic - teleports won't change aqny of that. The opposite. More places to go, more things to do, and relatively cheaper as well! Why waste time getting things delivered when you can pick them up - pick almost anything up - at your local teleport booth? Perhaps on the way home from from an evening's clubbing in Cyprus or swimming with sealions in Seattle after your hard day's work down the data mines of Dorset.

331:
If you can move bulk storage media fast enough, the bandwidth will always beat any networking technology. If you need to upload a really huge dataset into Amazon EC2, you can actually ship them a physical hard disk drive and they'll slurp it - because if the dataset is huge and your Internet connection isn't as good as CERN's, it's worth doing it that way.

If the teleport is of the scan/dissolve/transmit/reconstitute or "quantum positional mapping" type doesn't that presuppose seriously major advances in networking technology (useful for proper nanotechnology...) that would render the physical movement of data on HDD unnecessary?

332:

Most US citizens will not want to give up their private cars, ever, no matter what...

It's been on my mind but I haven't addressed it yet. The short answer is yes.

Motorized land transport will fade as a necessity. Expect that it will fade as recreation too, just as horse sports have done in the last century, for similar reasons - not so many people will be used to driving cars routinely. Having said that, there are too many useful reasons to have self-propelled vehicles: furniture delivery, ambulance services, RVs (caravans) for off-net camping, etc. So I anticipate a few form factors for specialized teleport systems:

Passenger booths look like elevators: internal lights, maybe a destination sign, a speaker for announcements. If possible they have two doors, on facing walls: people walk in, the rear door closes, the front door opens, everybody walks out.

Car booths are spartan but still lit, something like passenger booths with rugged walls, reinforced floors, and bigger doors. The Smart Car already fits, at 2.69 meters; so do motorcycles. They'll be really popular for a few decades. Expect a redesign of ambulances and fire trucks. Spinoff effects for ground transport include more electric vehicles (since short range isn't as crippling), smaller cars, micro-lorries, walk-behind load carriers, a lot more bicycles, and probably more Segway style urban micro-vehicles.

Cargo booths are rugged but don't need passenger features; some floors may have a roller system for ease of loading & unloading. Floors will be stronger than on passenger booths; doors will be as big as practical, as for car booths (which may have only minor or protocol differences from cargo booths). The eight-foot intermodal container already fits nicely into the hypothetical booths, and we've got plenty of cargo handling machinery to handle such things. (The 'high cube' model at 2.9 meters may catch on if it clears the doorway.) Most people won't see the cargo system and will find it easy to forget - some folks try not to look at infrastructure today, and it would only be easier with teleport booths.

333:

I was thinking of telepresence as in full sensory surrogates. It would ultimately be indistinguishable from actually being at the location. The form could be full human simulacrum, or 500 ton earth moving equipment, or anything else. That seems technologically doable, even if the bandwidth looks high. I believe you written about this yourself... :) That idea needs some more serious world building.

334:

Hmm. No radioactive isotopes, huh? Pish posh I can still be a nuclear terrorist! Watch me and learn.

How energetic can I be and pass through the portal?

At only $30-$40m a pop, I equip a thousand drones with gates. Elsewhere, somewhere hardened and safe, I set up a ginormous reactor and use it to drive a very, very large accelerator. Think large hadron collider large.

Now, it's time to invade! Let loose the dogs of war! Fire up the accelerator, and start emitting the ginormous beam of death(TM). Nice thing about this beam is it is very, very powerful, nicely collimated and thus passes right through my currently off gate station w/o damaging it, and is sustained as long as I run my reactor. Hell, do some physics research with it while we wait for targets.

Oh ho! Target rich environment! OK, drone sees target, drone decides to shoot target. Drone aims it's gate at target, and request a connection to my giant beam of death (GBOD). GBOD central gets ask, determines firing queue (if there is one) and starts opening the beam gate. GBOD's shoot from dozens or hundreds of drones as fast as the gate can be "dialed" to each drone. Assuming this is really, really fast... burning laser death! Without end!

Only downside on my side is the cost to maintain the GBOD station (which is nice and large and not mobile, thus easier to build for long duration operation), and angry physicists when their experiment gets interrupted as we destroy some country or planet somewhere.

Now there is a book idea! Race of beings slaving away to maintain the GBOD and its firing into a gate, without any context of why or what is happening. Just a bazillion year religion of "Must keep the beam operating". Perhaps the planet is under threat by some galaxy travelling menace with an unending and unstoppable beam weapon approaching it... a weapon that has gone all the way around the galaxy killing and now is (unknown to all - nobody remembers the combined weapon system) about to destroy it's own powerplant...

335:

ScentOfViolets committed:

Why would you want to do this? Oil, coal, natural gas - they all generate on the order of 50 MJ/kg with the usual adverse side effects. Teleporting one kilogram of rock from the asteroid belt to Earth? That generates on the order of 500 MJ/kg, if I can trust a mental BOTEC. And it's just rock, so there's very little in the way of environmental costs to account for.
As I said before, cheap, limitless pollution-free energy will be the biggest consequence for us planet-bound types.

There has been a large subthread here that's extrapolated extensive additional complications, capabilities, or restrictions beyond Charlie's postulated MacGuffin here.

A particularly bad case of GeekWank, as it were.

I am perfectly willing to look into additional impacts if Charlie asserts them. I am not going to spend six months recreating "The Physics of Star Trek" for booths based on random commenters on-thread about what their interpretation of the physics is or must be. It's a MacGuffin. Charlie can specify any MacGuffinish behavior he wants - or not go somewhere he didn't want to go. The momentum stuff, other than "the difference is payable as electricity" - and the velocity vector stuff was mostly made up by others.

My interpretation was "the vector difference in momentum and potential energy - absolute value, positive - is input as energy on one end (defaulting to sending)", and that the object arrives at rest in the arriving booth's frame. I think that's what Charlie meant, as any other interpretation makes it useless for long-distance human earth transport as you splat on arrival.

If Charlie wants to redefine it, as a way to extract potential energy as you're suggesting, as not arriving at rest relative to the destination, as electric input required at the receiving end or both ends, or some other variation on what he's already written, we can play with those too.

Under your formulation it's a way to collapse electricity from potential gravitational energy, yes.

Under Charlie's, you pay the difference, whatever that is, in input energy, and just get the mass. No energy out ever. You can transport mass up and let it fall down, extracting energy, but the extracted energy will be (efficiency factor) less than the potential, so you lose overall.

336:

Pish posh I can still be a nuclear terrorist!

Note, again, that this is a teleporation booth scheme. It is not a portal. So after the multi-billion dollar R&D program, you get a very expensive particle accelerator blowing expensive holes into expensive machinery, all on your own nation's territory. Other nations point and laugh.

Many people have tried to weaponize this in the earlier 300 posts; the lesson we've learned so far is that it's good for logistics. We've already got better weapons.

This is potential story idea, though; what if someone could try selling such a plan to various militant dictators? Like selling Project Babylon to Saddam Hussein, it could suck money from troublemakers. There's always someone who's never looked up the fate of the German V-3. The recurring idea of 'teleport in high-speed stuff' shows that that's a tempting idea, and probably wouldn't go away easily even with people teleporting all over the world without exploding.

337:

An angle I should have used in the original set-up, but is too late to introduce now:

Gates require a trunked, cabled connection -- they operate by quantum entanglement and need some way to swap photons in an indeterminate and very odd state. So you can't just arbitrarily drop one into someone's territory -- you've got to hook them up to a fiber-optic backbone that mediates the entangled state exchange.

So (a) you can't just air-drop them out of cargo aircraft or put them on ships, and (b) anyone with a fire axe can disable one.

(Yes, I'm trying to make them largely useless for military purposes. Because the military applications are, in the final analysis, much less interesting than the civilian ones.)

Let's also add: you can make bigger booths, but the cost scales as the cube of the volume (ouch!). You can make smaller ones, but there's a low-pass threshold: you can't make one that's much less than 2m x 2m x 2m.

338:

Charlie, In that case I expect you would get 2 or 3 different networks with different size booths.

1. Smallest size for cargo. Basically 1 pallet at a time. Most common, and every factory / courier would have one. This saves having to group deliveries together and all the complications that involves. This would also lead to vehicles designed to easily pick up and carry 1 pallet in a local area (say daily or hourly delivery to each local store front, and for almost all deliveries to peoples houses). They would tend to be designed with auto cargo handling to maximize throughput.
2. 2.5m cubes (2 m is a bit short for passengers). They would be different sizes because they would go to differently equipped destinations and have no need to overlap. The network would be much easier to use if you do not need to group together people to make it economic. Sized for a typical family in a hop, but a single passenger is not prohibitive. Possibly walk through in the back, out the front. With the cube of volume rules, these would cost about 5-10 times more than the base cargo ones.
3. a larger 3 or 3.5m set. This would be for vehicles ad would be setup to be drive on, drive off. These would be much rarer and used predominately for large cargo shipments and relocating short range vehicles to each local area.

I would expect that most communities would tend to become a hub, with high density condos and shops steps away from the passenger hub (5 min walk at most). A larger ring of low density housing surrounds that (with schools and emergency services) and beyond that recreational area and farms. If we are postulating a ballpark 5-10k population per hub, that would be all residences within a km or so (15 min walk to a gate, 30 min walk from 'ANYWHERE'), and each hub at least a mile apart. The effective population density would be much less since the parks and farms would give people an outlet. Commercial and residential would probably overlap, but industrial would have it's own hubs (like industrial parks). An hub for an auto plant would be well within reach of useful economics.

We would probably get regional clusters of hubs that would share emergency services and the vehicle hubs from an infrastructure level. I would expect that each hub would become much more culturally pure, as that population size supports stuff like it's own elementary and possibly even secondary schools if everyone is in the same track, and there would be no need for mixing to live close to work. Government would evolve towards local - per hub for schools etc, regional for resource and infrastructure issues, and global.
Depending on how much the fiber lines cost relative to the booths, the factories would cluster around the trunk (like railroads now) with the residential communities at ends of branches, and park/farm in between parallel runs.

339:
There has been a large subthread here that's extrapolated extensive additional complications, capabilities, or restrictions beyond Charlie's postulated MacGuffin here.

A particularly bad case of GeekWank, as it were.

Reread those threads, George. And if you think that conservation of momentum and energy is just so much GeekWank . . .

I am perfectly willing to look into additional impacts if Charlie asserts them. I am not going to spend six months recreating "The Physics of Star Trek" for booths based on random commenters on-thread about what their interpretation of the physics is or must be. It's a MacGuffin. Charlie can specify any MacGuffinish behavior he wants - or not go somewhere he didn't want to go. The momentum stuff, other than "the difference is payable as electricity" - and the velocity vector stuff was mostly made up by others.

My estimation of your grasp of technical details just went waaaay down. To the point where I don't trust your ability to "work out the details" as you would have it.

Particularly since you had no problem with the fact that teleporting up a potential difference would require energy.

340:

Actually those "technowank" details were specified in the original post:

Oh, and conservation of energy applies: if you want to move around the earth you have to pump in enough juice to equal the change in kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy of the cargo

Hey, you want to set up your Rube Goldberg 70's era SPS's, cause that's just the way you roll, fine. But don't disparage other people's grasp of the technical details. And don't assume you're the most competent - or even one of the more competent - folks posting here.

Which, incidentally, brings me back to the big takeaway - this gadget gives you cheap, limitless, nearly pollution-free energy just my moving rocks around. No need for SPS's.

341:

> Yes, I'm trying to make them largely
> useless for military purposes.

Ain't gonna happen. Perhaps 3/4 of any military is logistics. Anything that benefits logistics directly benefits military operations, even if it just allows quickly shifting cargo point-to-point on the home front.

Consider the Lend-Lease operations during WWII, for example. Or supplying Rabaul or Malta during their seiges. Or just keeping British forces supplied in Afghanistan now.

You can try to make your gates useless for delivering bombs, but that's only a small part of military operations.


> Because the military applications
> are, in the final analysis, much less
> interesting than the civilian ones.)

Maybe less interesting, but highly relevant, unless you don't think any other government, religion, or social system could be worse than the one you live under now. The military are like network administrators; just useless parasites until things go pear-shaped.

342:

ScentOfViolets wrote:

Particularly since you had no problem with the fact that teleporting up a potential difference would require energy.

Charlie specified that teleporting up a potential difference would require energy, and I am acutely aware that without such a restriction one creates a perpetual motion or energy fountain. I am somewhat perplexed by your response in which you assert that I didn't include an energy input requirement; I called it out explicitly.

My problem was your assertion that porting DOWN an energy potential GENERATED electricity and we could generate power by hopping stuff from asteroids down here. That was not part of the problem description, and while possible, would require Our Host to approve the variation. It would be useful, but wasn't specified.

As for conservation of momentum - guilty, but that's in the original specification, and there's a good case been made in some physics circles that conservation of momentum is a derivative of conservation of energy rather than a fundamental underlying restriction. I.e., though in the real universe that we know of no physical process can violate CoM, it's not an explicitly conserved quantity, and if we can imagine a teleport booth that as specified conserves energy, then it may validly violate CoM. Continuous spacetime topology appears to conserve it, but we're explicitly throwing that in the wind here, in a different manner than wormholes or singularities, and the results are different.

That's not a "I know that for a fact" - but it's something I'll accept as part of a MacGuffin definition as Charlie did here. That nobody has any clue how to physically create this object doesn't mean physics excludes it necessarily. It can be both impossible and allowed, in which case it's only a MacGuffin and not a Q-grade universe definition for plot line convenience.

(this is subject to revision if the professional physicists crazy enough to think that far outside the box change their minds, but there aren't that many, and Bob Forward has passed away...).

What I am objecting to is fundamentally that we've had 20+ people redefine the problem either adding issues or changing the definition of the MacGuffin freely to address what appeared to be misunderstandings of either the physics or definition.

Again - if momentum is explicitly conserved, the thing is useless beyond short distance local travel, as the earth's rotation vector differences along the surface (either N/S or E/W) rapidly reach the levels that will kill a human with only a meter or so of velocity adjustment "crush space", to use the automobile impact engineering terminology. Plus the use as a kinetic weapon, by zapping an inert object out the other end at some large fraction of the earth's 460 m/s equatorial rotational speed (doubled, if you port 180 degrees around the planet...).

Charlie asserted that his MacGuffin simply used energy input to make that go away and deliver things at local rest at the endpoint. If you're OK with that, fine, if not then there's practically no way of avoiding kinetic terrorism as soon as someone hacks a long-distance transfer in, and these things will be extremely limited, rare, and impractical.

Either you accept the MacGuffin, or you don't.

343:

Charlie writes:

Gates require a trunked, cabled connection -- they operate by quantum entanglement and need some way to swap photons in an indeterminate and very odd state. So you can't just arbitrarily drop one into someone's territory -- you've got to hook them up to a fiber-optic backbone that mediates the entangled state exchange.

But one could run a secret ocean data cable up to a beach (or onto a submarine) and start transfers to a border or just offshore in secret. Airdrops into the middle of nowhere would be prohibited however, as you say.

This would still open up space, practically. It would require building a geosynchronous tether, but once you've done that and run the data cable up, you can ship stuff upwards at electric input costs which are around 1000 times cheaper than current launch costs. That lets us do whatever we need to in GEO, including launching interplanetary rockets in very small chunks that we then fly out to other planets in.

A zero-payload geosync tether is much easier than one with climber payload restrictions, though it's still expensive and difficult (requiring long carbon nanotube structures). We're on the cusp of getting engineering and materials science to the point that it's just a money problem to build one; we're not there yet. But should be shortly. It puts the timeframe for opening up space out a ways.

It would make colonizing Mars ... interesting, though, due to an orbital peculiarity. Deimos orbits beyond Mars' GEO orbital altitude, but Phobos is below it unless I am misremembering. For a GEO station at Mars, no big deal, the moons are light enough that orbital perturbations aren't so bad. But Phobos running in to your cable will ruin your whole day.

Phobos' orbital inclination is low enough that you'd have to do a Y-'ed cable - tether mass above GEO, single cable to above Phobos and then a split cable passing outside its orbital inclination range, touching down near Mars' poles. I've seen proposals for that for Mars and for Luna, but don't recall the details.

344:

What part of "Conservation of energy applies" do you not understand? Which I quoted as part of Charlie's original post? Do you not understand that for energy to be conserved sometimes an external source must supply the difference and sometimes the exact opposite?[1]

We're done here since you're obviously not willing to be serious.

[1]For that matter, conservation of energy (if you want to get fancy) is really taken to be a consequence of time invariance and it's easily seen that teleporting mass from a higher potential to a lower one (running the film in reverse, so to speak) must result in an excess of energy. Feh.

345:

Charlie:

(Yes, I'm trying to make them largely useless for military purposes. Because the military applications are, in the final analysis, much less interesting than the civilian ones.)

Amateurs talk tactics; professionals strategy; good professionals talk logistics.

If "all" I have to do is drill a mile-deep, thousand mile long cable bore hole to run supplies from an offshore docking station in to Afghanistan, and then similar cable runs up and down the main mountain spine to distribute them, then 2/3 of the total military presence in Afghanistan now - the logistics part - largely goes away. That's a mighty big drilling operation but current tech is approaching that point.

Nation-states could intercept these cables but terrorists and insurgents largely have no chance at it.

Let's also add: you can make bigger booths, but the cost scales as the cube of the volume (ouch!). You can make smaller ones, but there's a low-pass threshold: you can't make one that's much less than 2m x 2m x 2m.

Interesting. Despite other poster's concern, 2m high is plenty for people. Some of us would need to slouch a bit to fit in, but if we figure 5 cm of combined floor+ceiling that's 195 cm and I'm only touching the roof personally, not slouching much more than my shoes height. 2 m cube booths are about half the cost of 2.5 m booths under this cube-of-volume approach. That, people will put up with. Or 2.1 m cubes (1.15 times the cost of 2m cubes). Or sitting down instead of packing in standing up, for taller people.

A 2x2x2 cube for vehicles... Could do it with a car that partitioned down the middle into 2 parts, so you jack down a pair of stub wheels in the middle, pop the seam apart, port the front, port the back, reattach, jack up the stub wheels, you're good to go. 4 m total length is short, but not unworkable.

346:

ScentOfViolets commits:

What part of "Conservation of energy applies" do you not understand? Which I quoted as part of Charlie's original post? Do you not understand that for energy to be conserved sometimes an external source must supply the difference and sometimes the exact opposite?[1]
We're done here since you're obviously not willing to be serious.
[1]For that matter, conservation of energy (if you want to get fancy) is really taken to be a consequence of time invariance and it's easily seen that teleporting mass from a higher potential to a lower one (running the film in reverse, so to speak) must result in an excess of energy. Feh.

Conservation of energy does not mean that "running this in reverse is a useful power source". Light bulbs conserve energy; try focusing a bunch of photons back into the filament and tell me when you reach mains voltage.

Some systems that works for (pumped hydro storage / hydropower dam), some involve this entropy thing that you may have heard of in passing at some point, and are somewhat less reversible. By and large, most power generation systems and essentially everything we do with the resultant power are effectively irreversible.

Charlie is free to posit an answer to this question in the affirmative, that down-potential booth hops equals free transit and usable (electric, thermal, whatever) power out. He didn't say that initially, and hasn't said it since then. So I'm not assuming the affirmative until he says so. You can assume the affirmative if you want to, but again, the vast majority of power conversion goes one way in practice, and the exceptions are notable, not visa versa.

Yes, the energy is going to have to be conserved, but it could be conserved in a neutrino burst, or any number of other side effects that don't generate useful power. Or high entropy thermal dump into the surroundings, as opposed to the low-entropy electrical input required to operate the booth, so the conversion from the down-mass to power (if you put a boiler and steam generator next to it, for example) is low efficiency (Carnot cycle, etc). It's up to Charlie, he's writing the specs here. If he wants to give us useful power out he can specify so.

Given the followon physical-cable-connection elaboration, asteroidal energy becomes slightly less practical anyways, unless you have an interplanetary cable.

347:

Both of you, please chill out a bit.

SoV, statements that begin with "What part of this do you not understand?" and end with "Feh" are not really going to lead to courteous discourse. From the evidence, they in fact seem to lead to lectures. Long, long lectures. Yes, I'm looking at you, George.

You both have some very intelligent things to say and I'd prefer to keep reading the intelligent parts.

348:

Very nice, Charlie!

I've been spinning the different (noncompatible) form factors for a while, but I don't know that it leads to anything all that interesting. When I was out walking this afternoon I came up with essentially the scaling model you just suggested.

I'm going to have to think on the implications of requiring a hard-wired connection, but a few things come up for the adoption cycle.

Short range networks become useful early. The trick is finding two or more points no more than a few kilometers apart where $100 million in teleporters beats what's there now. Some bridge and tunnel proposals get tossed.

High traffic linkages - it's cost effective to sink billions of pounds into connecting downtown Edinburgh and downtown London if the two a few minutes' walk apart. (The Edinburgh Fringe becomes a huge mess in all teleportation society scenarios.) These can be dedicated links that don't involve switching; somebody pushes the GO button and the magic happens.

Specialty uses will be on the fringe of society and so can be skimmed over. For example, a prison might use a dedicated linked pair for access control - but we already HAVE fences and gates; it adds nothing interesting.

What I do find interesting is that these limits are much more likely to lead to technologically incompatible networks. For historical precedent look at the history of railroads. People will not be able to teleport directly from Liverpool to Miami. But the Liverpool local cluster intersects whatever replaces the British rail system (which, being new, probably has a less elaborate graft system), which in turn links to an international system which dumps the poor traveler into a TSA anal probe station. If released the hypothetical person would reverse the scale hierarchy until arriving in the desired neighborhood of Miami.

Expect people to gripe about how far they need to walk to get from Liverpool to Miami! Also about how long it takes.

349:
SoV, statements that begin with "What part of this do you not understand?" and end with "Feh" are not really going to lead to courteous discourse. From the evidence, they in fact seem to lead to lectures. Long, long lectures. Yes, I'm looking at you, George.

Sorry, Sean, but this one's all on George. The one who is saying that conservation of energy applies isn't me, it's Charlie, in his original post. Which I've also quoted. Go ahead and look.

Now, George is free to pretend that none of this happened, that I'm the one imposing arbitrary constraints. But that just ain't so. I of course, am free to point this out, just as I am free to point out that he's being a real ass acting like this instead of saying something like, "Gee, you're right, I missed what Charlie originally specified."

Iow, please don't say that both parties are equally at fault. In fact, looking back over this thread, it seems that for whatever reason George has been condescending in that especially infuriating way of being wrong even as they are being condescending with more than one poster.

From the evidence, they in fact seem to lead to lectures. Long, long lectures. Yes, I'm looking at you, George.

And not only long, but very, very wrong, more's the pity. Engineer's disease.

Anyway, enough time has been wasted on this nonsense, let's get back on topic.

So how does the concomitant outcome of inexhaustible cheap clean energy change the world? Prior to the Great Unpleasantness which has been the last decade or so, I would have said this would be a very nice future world to live in. But now I'm not sure that this is necessarily true.

350:

The response to "please chill out a bit" should not include insults. Please keep that in mind.

351:

ScentOfViolets:


Sorry, Sean, but this one's all on George. The one who is saying that conservation of energy applies isn't me, it's Charlie, in his original post. Which I've also quoted. Go ahead and look.

In short, so Sean doesn't drive over and throw something at me:

Lightbulb, or reversible pumped hydro?

Both conserve energy. One is not reversible. See "entropy".

Charlie's choice which.

352:

So you've changed your mind then and gone from this:

My interpretation was "the vector difference in momentum and potential energy - absolute value, positive - is input as energy on one end (defaulting to sending)",

where conservation of energy most definitely does not apply to going with what Charlie specified, that is, conservation of energy does apply.

Ah, progress of sorts.

Next question, since you've also apparently come around to agreeing that, yes, going from a higher to a lower potential will release rather than absorb energy: in what form does this energy appear?

The answer that most textbooks give seems to be that it ends up as heat; drop a one kilogram rock from a height of one meter and what ultimately happens is the rock (as well as the ground it comes into contact with) heats up. I'll leave it as an exercise for George to determine just how hot a kilogram-sized rock gets when you dump 500 MJ worth of energy into it and whether or not this could be used to generate steam to spin a turbine which turns a generator . . . ;-)[1]

And randomized thermal energy is the toughest stuff to wring useful work out of. This is a worst-case scenario.

[1]I find George's original contention that one couldn't generate useful work from a white-hot twist of metal a bit of missing the obvious, but maybe that's just me.

353:

Before considering the results of this technology, I'd like to ask how long it takes for the device to digest a bolus of passenger/cargo?

If there's no delay--you walk in here, you come out there, there's no lag between the two events other than that imposed by the speed of light--that has one set of implications. If you shut yourself in a box, the box spends the next hour disassembling you, it sends the scan to a new location at the speed of light, and a box at the other end spends another hour putting together a fresh copy of you, then that's a whole different kettle of wax.

In the former scenario, I could imagine this replacing local public transit: A continuous stream of people could walk from San Francisco to Oakland, say, or from New York to Brooklyn--building a few of these devices would be cheaper than building a bridge or a subway tunnel.

In the latter scenario, it would only be used for low-volume, high-value, time-sensitive traffic between distant points (so that a two-hour delay in arrival is still a win), or when passing through all the points between A and B imposes enough costs to make it worthwhile to avoid them (e.g., getting cocaine or diamonds across a border, or eliminating the need for armored trucks to bring cash to and from banks).

Pick your poison...

354:
where conservation of energy most definitely does not apply
?

Where is energy not conserved? Input electrical energy to run the booth is not total system energy within whatever boundary volume we define. One of these is presumably - by universe and Charlie - conserved. The other is a system engineering utility requirement driving deployment parameters, and thus the effects of the system on society.

If Charlie wants the electric mains the only input/ output flow for that energy he can say so specifically. Again - lightbulb or pumped hydro storage?

355:

Not to nit-pick details but its fairly common to use lasers without fiber-optic cables when generating entangled photons. Often the fiber is just used to inject a delay in a leg of the optical circuit, while others have achieved delayed routes via longer laser routes.

I would struggle with your science in a story stating you are unable to create a beam of entangled photons in the vacuum of space without a fiber cable....

The latest addition still allows forward time-travel. Even better now that you are transferring entanglement via fiber we can eventually just loop the entangled information for years before instantiating.. Let alone using a laser repeater between Jupiter and Earth.

One fun derivative of this ability to jump forward in time would be people who can afford continual 7 day jumps only aging on Friday's. See whats up, adjust some stock investments and leap forward again.

356:

Can you generate power by teleporting stuff from the equator to the poles? Immerse one box in the ocean near (say) Indonesia, another just above sea level near the North Pole, and you've got a way to drain the Earth's rotational energy for your own power needs.

357:

In the main (ignore details like "where I live", preferred $shineys) agreed, particularly about liking to pick my own produce and try on clothes to make sure they hang right on me. "Clothes shopping" is not fun, but buy the right stuff (fit, quality) and you don't have to do it very often.

358:

I'd manage happily with the 2x2x2m cube. In fact I quite like being in small spaces at times.

As for "personal transport", the 3x3x3m cube can probably transmit somewhere between 4 and 9 motorcycles or 4 Messerschmidt-style "bubble cars". If you just want "local transport" and people have stopped driving things like "Chevrolet Suburb(an)s" and "Lincoln (large) Town Cars" ;-) you don't really need much bigger.

359:

Can you generate power by teleporting stuff from the equator to the poles? Immerse one box in the ocean near (say) Indonesia, another just above sea level near the North Pole, and you've got a way to drain the Earth's rotational energy for your own power needs.

That's the wrong way round I think. Conservation of angular momentum says that moving mass closer to the axis of rotation should make the whole system spin faster, which requires an energy input.

360:

It occurs to me that mobile booths available for rent might be useful in various situations. Even with Charlie's new stipulation that booths need to be connected to a wired network you could simply lay out wire's in more places than booths so that those places have the option to connect a temporary one.

I'm thinking for large events that happen infrequently. It wouldn't be cost effective for Glastonbury festival to install a bunch of booths for example but if they could hire a few dozen then they could shuttle in customers from all over the world.

361:

The Glastonbury Festival probably doesn't survive the teleport booth, Ryan.

Consider: about one year in two it's a muddy quagmire. The infrastructure to support it is barely up to the job -- if you've ever been you'll know about the latrines! The reason it happens where it does is that Michael Eavis runs it on Worthy Farm and it's grown because it's not too far from roads big enough to carry the traffic volume. To put it in perspective, the head count is three times that of Burning Man.

There are better places to put such an event -- ones that aren't at the bottom of a valley where there's a 50/50 chance it'll rain the whole time and flood everyone out, or where there's decent plumbing infrastructure. As the point of teleport booths is that they collapse long-distance travel time, I suspect Glastonbury would downsize to fit its core constituency as casual festival-goers would get accustomed to traveling to more exotic climes.

Plus: what's the appeal of camping in a muddy field for a weekend of music when you can arrive every morning, and go home to sleep in your own bed after the last encore of the evening?

(No, don't answer that: I know what it's about ... ;-)

362:

"Interesting. Despite other poster's concern, 2m high is plenty for people. "

It's plenty for some people but not if you're trying to get the bulk of the general population. It's a claustrophobic nightmare for a sizable minority.

Incidentally There are now full scale prototypes of the M.I.T city car, which has a hinge more or less in the middle like the car you're describing:

http://www.media.mit.edu/news/citycar

363:

Is the appeal of SF cons solely about staying in high-ticket hotels on the cheap, or is it partly about meeting the people you see once a year, attending the panels, staying up until silly o'clock in the bar/games room/filking, visiting the dealers' room...

I think you know the answer, and lots of music festival goers feel the same about $festival.

364:

It's the hotels of course.

Oh, OK, you're right, though I will concede the only festival we go to, we drive there and back each day. We long ago decided that camping is for the kids.

(The hotels can actually raise their prices above their usual rates, if the convention isn't careful enough. cf. Eastercon 2011.)

365:

Instead of a negative fiat to keep the military out (or so uninterested that their influence becomes negligible) consider instead a positive discovery.

For instance, there is currently a large community of hackers intent on breaking military or espionage ciphers.

Suppose that there are all kinds of wave and particle byproducts coming from teleport gate operations. Those byproducts travel everywhere, unfettered by water, rocks, vacuum.

Then, suppose that groups of hackers discover that it is fairly easy to analyse those bybproducts fully , yielding a treasure trove of facts on what kinds of atoms and how many are being sent through any gate. Suddenly all gate traffic information has the probability of becoming public.

Sure, the military will still have some use for the gates for logistics. But anything they send through them will be even more public than on a barge where you can at least hide the stuff a bit under a tarp. They won't scream DO NOT WANT but they won't spend that much time or money on the gates either, thus diminishing their influence in their network's development.

366:

there's a good case been made in some physics circles that conservation of momentum is a derivative of conservation of energy rather than a fundamental underlying restriction. I.e., though in the real universe that we know of no physical process can violate CoM, it's not an explicitly conserved quantity

Not in circles I've ever encountered, and not anywhere in mainstream theoretical physics. (Feel free to give a reference.) Momentum conservation (a) is a consequence of spatial translation invariance, which is not in any sense derivative on energy conservation; (b) can't be violated without wrecking special relativity, given that energy is conserved.

367:

I wondered about that, particularly in the case of the Campanile, but don't really know what rack rates in Bradford are like.

368:

I'm extremely dubious about this, at least as stated. Doing an ultimate analysis on a booth full of matter really won't tell you very much at all: a few hundred kilos of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen may be cooking fat, or it might be Semtex.

You'd want at least molecular-level info, and even then, it's pretty low level information.

The major exception is if nukes are being moved around, of course.

(And as previously noted, that's disallowed by Charlie's parameters.)

369:

Have you been watching too much CSI:$sub-franchise and Bones? I was impressed when reading an Alex Gray novel, where 2 characters were discussing forensic evidence, and said that they'd get the DNA results back "in about 3 weeks".

370:

If the capital cost of the booths scale up and down on the cube of the difference in volume between the original standard $40m 27m^3 then lift sized units for 1 person or a small family are almost trivially cheap. (Not you understand that I’ll be buying one for myself.)

It’s, what an order of magnitude cheaper to build 2 units, 6-person units of 2.1m to a side than to build a 12-person 3x3x3 unit. It makes the network much more flexible and much cheaper to install lots of capacity. Capacity for me was the issue with the old cost base. I could see how you could replace air travel and long distance rail with a 27m^3 unit at $40m but I thought replacing buses and the Tube would be harder.

You’re now in the position where a Developed nations community of a 1,000 or so could afford a couple of these units for an outlay of a couple of $k each. Which in Edinburgh would be a one of these things every half mile or so. More in the city centres.

(Longer term, thinking about what might do to the car industry I think it drives denser urban living. With one every few hundred metres in densely populated areas you barely need a car for anything. Which makes selling enough cars to justify a mass production factory less easy.)

I think that is basically a physical version of the internet.

371:
It's the hotels of course.

Jesus Christ! You could really build Hilbert's Hotel!!

372:

The booths open up a new possibilities for crime too.
At the most trivial, mugger does not exit booth, but stays hidden. Mark[s] walk[s] in. Mugger puts booth operation on hold, robs marks, exits at random location and sends booth with marks to another random location.

I'm sure Banacek ('70's tv show) would have had a field day explaining how $artwork mysteriously went missing during transport between booths. ;)

373:
At the most trivial, mugger does not exit booth, but stays hidden. Mark[s] walk[s] in. Mugger puts booth operation on hold, robs marks, exits at random location and sends booth with marks to another random location.

Wouldn't that involve the mugger paying for the onward transport where the fee may be more than the take from the transaction?

374:

Alex: Banacek was brilliant, though the chauffeur wasn't too bad either though I always liked Mr "oh, one more thing Sir/Madam...". Did we ever see his Mrs?

375:
there's a good case been made in some physics circles that conservation of momentum is a derivative of conservation of energy rather than a fundamental underlying restriction. I.e., though in the real universe that we know of no physical process can violate CoM, it's not an explicitly conserved quantity
Not in circles I've ever encountered, and not anywhere in mainstream theoretical physics. (Feel free to give a reference.) Momentum conservation (a) is a consequence of spatial translation invariance, which is not in any sense derivative on energy conservation; (b) can't be violated without wrecking special relativity, given that energy is conserved.

Exactly right. Translation invariance gives you conservation of linear momentum, rotational invariance gives you conservation of angular momentum, and time invariance gives you conservation of energy. The italicized bit above is - as far as I and some rather high-powered mathematical physics types know - sheer Campbellian nonsense.

But this makes another problem of these teleports grossly apparent: where is the momentum hiding when the cargo is in transit?

Remember, payload is flicking around at the speed of light. Massive payloads. Assuming that cargo has zero mass in transit, the equation E=p*c holds. Since E=mc^2, you get a change of momentum of several hundred million N*sec per kilogram of teleported mass!

So at the first cut, it looks like only very small masses can be safely transferred. Also, these teleports make one heckuva space drive :-)

376:

Following up on the English discussion, a bit late..

There's another 170m in the rest of EU [... India, Philippines, Nigeria]
No, not native speakers. And check the notes in the article too, there's a lot of detail lost.

You already said Alain wouldn't be part of the English-speaking gigacity; how many of those 900 million "speakers" are in the same situation? (I certainly was, for a long time.)

It's possible to learn another language, it happens all the time, but getting people in other countries to learn Mandarin Chinese by the tens and hundreds of millions is probably beyond the reach of the Chinese government.
I don't think getting the government involved is going to be required. Languages spread when people meet and need to talk; so with increasing trade and tourism it'll happen without any central plan. (And when all the good SF books are published in Chinese first, the language of the single largest market...)

[voluntary isolation]

Hmm. Well, if you live in a small town with a population on the order of hundreds of millions, I bet that it would have enough people for it to be possible to opt out of the steam train restoration society with all the wrong people and start a new one.

Similarly with jobs, if you rely on friendship networks to get a foot in the door, there's going to be some sorting. But I am very probably wrong on some level; I just don't think that "one happy English-speaking family" is a likely outcome.

377:

If the capital cost of the booths scale up and down on the cube of the difference in volume...

I expected that it would be a base sum to build any teleporter plus a booth size cost; rather than being a smooth curve, you'd get a sharp inflection. If nothing else, this means very small booths are impractical.

Remember the never-empty drink glass in one of Larry Niven's stories? We lose that.

Larry Niven really did model this pretty well years ago. The main difference in Charlie's proposal is a higher cost per unit (meaning neighborhood booths rather than one in every home); it's not yet addressed but the per-use cost seems to be trivial for most people.

Another point we haven't addressed yet is billing. The different networks would certainly handle it differently; expect tourists to be confused and frustrated that their dollars, euros, or Mollusk cards aren't accepted universally.

378:

The Mollusk card?. Yes, they are useful when in that part of the Far East..

379:

I stopped watching broadcast TV more than 15 years ago when I was trying to do a PhD. I gave away my telly to a friend who had an older set. So, I have no idea what you are talking about. The superficial info I can get on Wikipedia on these shows really is of no help in this instance.

380:

David Wallace wrote:

Not in circles I've ever encountered, and not anywhere in mainstream theoretical physics. (Feel free to give a reference.) Momentum conservation (a) is a consequence of spatial translation invariance, which is not in any sense derivative on energy conservation; (b) can't be violated without wrecking special relativity, given that energy is conserved.

I'm going to apologize beforehand and make it clear that I don't have a graduate degree in physics. My use of terminology in topology and relativity is not up to professional standards, though I'm relatively educated for a non-physicist.

That said...

This scenario - a booth with a teleport mechanism - is an inherently discontinous symmetry at the point of transport. Spatial translation invariance is a continuous spacetime symmetry, right?

Some of the weird effects of wormholes, if they're real and not just a math oddity, come from the discontinuities, and here I'm starting to seriously lose my grasp of normal usage versus technical topology terminology, so I apologize if I'm misstating it. Wormholes involve not just warped space but non-flat space.

A booth like this is truly discontinuous, if it's working spatially (i.e., actually swapping the boxes) and not working by breaking things down atom by atom and moving them or recreating them (a la "star trek transporter" like hypothetical tech). Or so the physicists I was talking to at the time asserted.

I assumed it was working spatially, unlike some of the earlier discussions, as there's an energy potential cost to pay to make the move. That implies the stuff is actually moving. On the other hand, the entanglement physical connection elaboration Charlie added last night sort of pushes in the other direction, to a hard-wired Star Trek transporter like thing. In which case, I don't know what specifics would apply.

I don't know that anything ever got published on this; I don't think that anyone ever thought it was "real enough" of a situation (unlike wormholes, which were felt to be impractical to the extreme but not unreal, going back a couple or three decades). Bob Forward took some time and effort to get the negative mass work he did published. The potentially imaginary rest mass neutrino stuff was only published because they had an experimental result; letting them go on for a bit about the potential effects and consequences if that result held up seems to have been what let them keep going for a bit on it before it got better experimental data that disproved the first result.

I didn't spend all weekend spelunking in arxiv, though.

Physicists dabbling in speculative fiction stuff that I have encountered seem reluctant to try to publish stuff that far out, but I just don't know for sure. I'm not a pro in the field.

381:

Alain writes:

It's plenty for some people but not if you're trying to get the bulk of the general population. It's a claustrophobic nightmare for a sizable minority.

I'm 196 cm tall, so I understand where you're coming from. I have hit my head repeatedly in Japanese hotel showers and Japanese bar bathroom doorways, and any number of small cars (and some medium sized ones). I look out through the windshield crossbar in a Miata, when I'm able to fold my knees up enough to wriggle into the seats.

That said - the little cart you fit in to roll quickly and efficiently into the Booth isn't something you're spending a lot of time in. If people end up objecting to standing up for a couple or three minutes in a very low ceiling little cart, we can give them some fold-down seats so they can sit. If the economics are significant, the user interface can be finessed. People are adaptable.

382:
If the capital cost of the booths scale up and down on the cube of the difference in volume between the original standard $40m 27m^3 then lift sized units for 1 person or a small family are almost trivially cheap. (Not you understand that I’ll be buying one for myself.)

How long does any one person spend in the booth? I'd guess that if someone potters around for five minutes punching in a destination, paying for it, and then teleporting out would be on the receiving end of some rather intense "jump rage" if in point of fact it's supposed to take only ten seconds to select, pay, and flick out.

I don't know if Niven ever anticipated this or not, but his transfer booths read as if they were a)ubiquitous, and b) closely spaced. Low latency doesn't help much if you have low throughput.

383:

On civilian spinoffs, there's a big one we've missed. Bicycle couriers become amazingly popular! When your package can be delivered anywhere in 30 minutes by an underemployed teenager, the market possibilities explode. Alas, delivery work will never really be as cool as Neal Stephenson made it sound. But bicycles, skateboards, and roller blades fit into the booths, everybody wants some object occasionally, and sometimes you just don't want to leave the house.

Our host has mentioned the Big River and its effect on local bookstores. I'll point out that Powell's is in Portland (with a vast supply of bicycle-riding hipsters in need of more beer money) and can invest in capitol upgrades. Suppose they'll deliver your book anywhere within a mile of a public booth, anywhere in the US, 24/7, right into your literature-starved hands. Suddenly the FedEx option from the Big River looks a lot less appealing.

384:

This scenario - a booth with a teleport mechanism - is an inherently discontinous symmetry at the point of transport.

It doesn't have to be--it was specified that it only transmits things at the speed of light, which could be taken to mean that matter in one chamber is transformed locally to photons or some other particles moving at the speed of light, which them move continuously to the other chamber, where they are transformed back into the same type and configuration of matter that was present in the first chamber. For that matter, Charlie's comments about entanglement may suggest that this is just a type of quantum teleportation, which doesn't involve any discontinuous physical changes or motions, and occurs in conformity with underlying physical laws that obey spatial translation symmetry.

385:

I'm basing all of my cost estimates on a cycle time of 1 minute.

I think you'd do all the faffing around outside the booth to avoid exactly that booth rage and the lost revenue from slow cycle times both from the booth and too the booth.

386:

Columbo.

IIRC Mrs C never appeared in Columbo, but there was a spin-off show called soemthign like "Mrs Columbo PI".

387:

The key point is that lead time on these sorts of analyses is typically 2 to 3 weeks rather than "Tv Show real time". Also and FWIW I've never seen a broadcast episode of Bones either.

388:

Might as well go international with those bike couriers. Denmark is ultra flat and has an incredibly rich pedalling culture in addition to their incredibly rich book culture. Also, The Netherlands isn't exactly hilly and the whole country is built fo cycling.

And why not go interplanetary with those bike delivery services? The bigger Moonbases are likely to have some very long corridors that are really tiresome to walk through and too small for even an electric Smartcar. Nice thing about bikes is that you can lift them easily over an airlock threshold.

389:

Maybe not as cool as Neal Stephenson, but Gibson wrote some pretty cool bike messengers, and some downright droolworthy bikes. ",)

390:

Thought about it a long time ago : my favorite use would be to put one at both end of a ski slope to achieve relativistic skiing !

391:

Yes, I see.

But I had never intended to mean that they would do teleport trafic analysis in real time. I was thinking of grey hat hackers who would intercept the stray waves / particle more or less at random most of the time and use a future supercloud computing process to to their analysis over the time it takes.

Grey hat hackers can be very patient. I follow their twitterings now and then and I'm also amazed by their thoroughness.

Just the fact that there are people out there who can see into what they are doing with their teleport gates (or stolen / hijacked ones) now and then would be enough to deter the military. They are incredibly paranoid. They would rather go back to carting things around (secretly, at night) on donkeys than trust a possibly compromised network of teleport gates / booths. I mean sure, they'd use them to carry rice into Afghanistan, or Pepsi bottles into Zanzibar. But forget about anything sensitive (like an atom bomb) or even something non-sensitive during a sensitive operation.

392:
I'm basing all of my cost estimates on a cycle time of 1 minute.

I think you'd do all the faffing around outside the booth to avoid exactly that booth rage and the lost revenue from slow cycle times both from the booth and too the booth.

Nevertheless, people will futz around wasting other people's time - this is in the manner of a sociological prediction. You think being behind someone at the checkout line whose power tripping on making other people wait is maddening now, wait until you're stuck in traffic behind them on the way to work while they're going a metaphorical 20 mph.

There are some economic points here as well. First, although the cost goes as the cube of the volume, the amortization goes like a 3/2 power. The smaller booth only holds one person, and can process at most 60 people an hour. The larger booth can hold maybe 40 people, so you get a throughput of 2400 ppl/hr. Iow, the (much) lower rate of payback may make the smaller booths uneconomic despite their much-reduced cost.

Finally, if you're only moving 60 ppl/hr, well, maybe taking a bus, car or bike is still quicker by virtue of their greater throughput. Imagine having to get to work by 8:00 and having 60 or more people from your neighborhood queued up ahead of you. Despite transportation "at the speed of light" - as the adverts will undoubtedly play on - it still takes you more than an hour to get to work. Iow, there's not much of an incentive there to give up your bus, car, or bike, especially when the higher costs of travel by teleport are taken into account.

393:

Thought about it a long time ago : my favorite use would be to put one at both end of a ski slope to achieve relativistic skiing !

But if the timing is off by a wee little bit, you get splat.

394:

[Warning: (i) physics digression; (ii) this is all worked out fairly quickly, and might have some elementary mistake that I'm missing.]

The conserved-quantities issue is actually subtler than I thought (read: I just wasted an afternoon confusing myself about it). We generally assume physical theories are invariant under a bunch of different spacetime symmetries: (i) translations in time; (ii) translations in space; (iii) rotations; (iv) velocity boosts. (The latter is the "relativity principle" often ascribed to Einstein, but which actually goes back to Galileo: physics is the same in a moving frame as it is in a stationary frame.)

As came up earlier, each of these symmetries is associated with a conserved quantity by a fairly fundamental chain of reasoning in theoretical physics. In other words, if a teleportation booth fails to conserved one of the conserved quantities, it works by some principle that fails to respect the associated symmetry. That's Bad News from the point of view of not wrecking most of contemporary physics. I can cope with the idea of a teleport booth; the idea that the Universe has a preferred spatial direction, or a preferred rest velocity, is a harder pill to swallow.

Okay, what are the quantities? As was discussed earlier, time translation leads to conservation of energy, spatial translation to conservation of momentum, and rotation to conservation of angular momentum.

What's less often noted is that the relativity principle also leads to a conservation principle: namely, that the time-dependent quantity

K= (Mass of system) x (centre-of-mass of system) - (time) x (momentum of system)

is conserved. (You can see this directly by differentiating.) In particular, an instantantaneous change in the state of the world cannot move the centre of mass of the world, on pain of violating the relativity principle.

But teleportation, in its usual form, fairly clearly does exactly that. If I move a mass M a distance D, I increase K by M times D. You can't do that unless you're happy to have the functioning of your teleport booth depend on its velocity relative to the One True Rest Frame.

The only clean workaround I can see is the swap interpretation of teleportation, which I think someone mentioned upthread: you can only teleport mass m from booth A to booth B if you simultaneously teleport mass m from booth B to booth A. That fairly clearly satisfies all the conservation laws. Alas, it rules out the teleporting-moonrock strategy.

TL;DR: unless you want to break physics in a serious way, teleport booths need to work by the swap principle. On the plus side, working this way removes any awkwardness - or any chance for exploitation - from issues of energy or momentum conservation.

395:

Might as well go international with those bike couriers. Denmark is ultra flat and has an incredibly rich pedalling culture in addition to their incredibly rich book culture. Also, The Netherlands isn't exactly hilly and the whole country is built for cycling.

Ooh, I'd never thought of Danish bikers; you're right. My 'across the US' model was only because border customs would get cranky about the same kid zipping over to Mexico four times in an evening (and my example, Powell's, is in the US). Where national borders are weakly guarded it may be practical to cross them casually; how do pizza deliveries work out in the EU today?

I can't help but think that a Powell's EU branch would be very cool, anyway. But then, I like the idea of ordering a book on your smartphone, reporting your location, and ten minutes later having a kid on a bike roll up and hand you your book. (Any resemblance to the phone delivery incident in Accellerando is actually coincidental.) It's not quite as fast as downloading an ebook, but wood pulp has its own advantages.

And young healthy SF protagonists need to be underemployed doing something, right? This gets them out in the fresh air more than being a barista, and lets them meet strange new people.

396:

Where national borders are weakly guarded it may be practical to cross them casually; how do pizza deliveries work out in the EU today?

I can't say.

But I can attest that I crossed the French-Swiss border multiple times this year alone just to go and eat. And that in Basel, one of the suburban tram lines wanders into France for one stop, yet the chances of even seeing a ticket inspector, let alone border control, are minimal.

(To clarify, Switzerland is neither in the EU, nor in the Euro zone. It is, however, in the Schengen area.)

397:
What's less often noted is that the relativity principle also leads to a conservation principle: namely, that the time-dependent quantity

K= (Mass of system) x (centre-of-mass of system) - (time) x (momentum of system)

is conserved. (You can see this directly by differentiating.) In particular, an instantantaneous change in the state of the world cannot move the centre of mass of the world, on pain of violating the relativity principle.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what you say, but I think that specifying a transfer of mass no quicker than the speed of light takes care of this objection. You still have that horrible transfer of momentum problem that I mentioned before - teleporting a one-kilogram mass in free space will cause a million-kilogram transfer booth to kick backwards in the opposite direction to the tune of 300 m/sec.

But at least it doesn't violate any fundamental physics :-)

398:

I can attest that I crossed the French-Swiss border multiple times this year alone just to go and eat.

I am tickled to a silly degree by the image of a red Victorinox brand teleport booth car, able to zip about city streets conveniently but which would also unfold into a tiny but complete restaurant for mobile dining. Doubtless it would also include a compass, toothpick, and corkscrew...

399:

Whilst I don’t want to minimise the ability of human nature to be petty and obstructionist there are a couple of things I can see that would reduce the impact of one person futzing about on others.

In order for the system to work efficiently patrons will need to book a slot. You can’t just walk up and get in a booth and hit go because you need to book a slot for you to come out at, at the other end. For longer journeys you need a sequence of matched pairs from start to finish.

Slots are valuable. As a booth operator if I don’t sell a slot it’s gone for ever. For the Marchmont North No 3 booth I can sell the 9.11 slot to Mr Smith, (currently standing near the booths) or I can sell it to a small group of New Yorkers who are transiting through Edinburgh on their way from Brooklyn to Prague. (Likely for transit passengers who don’t need to load or unload I can sell the slot in two halves).

So I divide the ticket purchase from booth occupancy. There are ticket machines on the side of each booth. There is one spare ticket machine nearby and I can buy tickets using my mobile phone. (Little old ladies from Hell can futz about at the ticket machine as much as they like, but I can get a ticket another way and until they have purchased a ticket they don’t have a slot, so I can buy the slot and be on my way.)

No buying tickets in the booth – every minute the little old lady from hell spends rummaging for change is a transfer cycle I can’t sell. Unless she’s bought and paid for the time she’s not spending any time in the booth.

Patrons are sold a journey and time slot. When you buy your ticket you get a slot in a specific booth at a specific time. At 9.10.30 a screen announces that Mr Smith’s trip to Inverness will be leaving from Booth No 3 in 30 seconds. At 9.11.00 the doors open. At 9.11.15 the doors close. You want extra time to board because you have a disability or a small children – you can buy extra time to board or you can show my your registered disabled card or your registered I have small children card.

You miss your slot, too bad. You paid for it but you chose to not use it. Please go and buy another ticket. You snooze, you lose.

BTW – I am very much enjoying the word futzing.

400:

Agreed - my argument was against just transferring matter from place to place. It doesn't rule out physical movement of the matter through space (which, from the point of view of the conservation laws, is the same qualitatively whether you're teleporting or walking). But I agree, in that latter case there's a pretty prohibitive momentum kickback to deal with. (Or you could compensate by a big pulse of neutrinos or something, but then the energy bill gets horrendous.) Swap is the way to go, either way.

401:

Maybe a modified Smart Fortwo. (You can very nearly fit two side-by-side in a 3m cube. I could see a new model with a handful of centimeters shaved off the width, specifically to fit the booths.)

402:

If we're talking of a future with ultra light materials available you wouldn't need a motor. Two persons could push and pull something like this through the teleport facility:

http://www.800buycart.com/enclosedtrailers.htm

Of course it would be painted Victorinox red and have a few more attachments.

Take a look also at slightly bigger versions of cube food trailers at the Cart Concepts International Web site.

Combined with the bike couriers this makes me think that you could have motor-free "instant cities" popping up now and then at little more than the teleport fee cost since they would be based on low tech muscle power combined with just a few hi tech elements.

403:

On the economics.

Assume 10% return on capital required and life time maintenance costs of 100% of capital costs and a 30 year life. A 27^m booth at $40m will cost in capital and maintenance about $5.33m per annum. I make their capacity per cycle closer to 15 people. So fully utilised at 15 per cycle is $1.30 per person. At 40 people per booth the capital costs per trip at 100% efficiency fall to $0.49. 40 people in a 27^m3 booth have less than a quarter of square meter floor space. For a booth of 2.5^3 which can take 8 people the capital costs are $0.49 and the network is more flexible. For a single person 2.1^m3 booth the capital and maintenance costs would be in the region of $0.82. That’s per cycle not per trip – so a ten hop trip from Edinburgh to London is going to cost $4.50 - $13.

So I can invest $40m in one 15-40 person booth and have a per cycle capital cost of $1.30 for 15 people. Or I can invest $40 in 5 2.5m^3 and be able to move 41 people more flexibly at a cycle cost of $0.49.

404:

I think you'd have to shave the rear tyre width and track, and AIUI the "Smart" For2 needs that for stability in evasive swerves.

405:

Oooh, you could fit that (the lower, larger, one) and a Fortwo side by side in a booth. For, you know, those cases where the lightweight materials still aren't particularly light and you want to be a mile or few from the booth.

(A loaded cooking trailer probably has all sorts of heavy stuff like water and fuel and stuff on board, none of which can be really lightened, so in and out of the booth by hand, fine, but hauling it any distance would be easier with a lightweight motorised vehicle too.)

406:

Ah. If that over-wide track is all at one end, then you could put the existing sized ones in facing opposite directions.

Either that, or there could be a wheel-retraction option to pull them in for shipment.

407:

You could have the motorised vehicle popping out on another teleport booth or preceding it or following it in the sequence.

In which case you could make a trailer towing version of the French-British Quasar Unipower of 1967-68

http://dlpl.org/inventors?album=17&gallery=93

All you need is some sliding glass doors cut to the right size, and a square chassis with some old Mini mechanicals in the base and some old Mini wheels.

408:

paws4thot @ 404
What "stability" is this that the Smart is supposed to have?
I think they are one of the most dangerous vehicles on the road - their longitudonal stabilty is visibly deficient, when seen moving on the road.

409:

Combined with the bike couriers this makes me think that you could have motor-free "instant cities" popping up now and then at little more than the teleport fee cost since they would be based on low tech muscle power combined with just a few hi tech elements.

Ooh, yes! We've overlooked the possibility of the flash crowd growing up into a responsible flash festival. Mobile infrastructure currently isn't all that mobile; if it's practical to bring in more facilities quickly, some of the limits on festival size get looser. It might well be reasonable to throw together such gatherings on much shorter notice, too. As with current festivals, many of them would be aesthetically outrageous.

Current camping trailers (caravans) are much too big, but I'm sure something smaller would be produced. A flash festival would be just the thing to attract acres of them.

As a footnote, this comic also addressed teleportation changing society.

410:
... make the process destabilize the radioactives in such a way that they spontaneously decay in the source booth. This limits travel in some ways, including making it somewhat hazardous for bannana fanciers, but it should be fairly controlled. However, transporting a nuke would be a really good way of offing yourself.

Transporting yourself would be really good way of offing yourself.

The arithmetic: mammals' internal potassium-40 exposes them to 0.3 milligray, 0.3 mJ/kg, per year. Potassium-40's mean lifetime is 1.85 billion years (divide the half-life by ln of 2), so as the booth deradioactivizes you, you emit 554 kJ/kg.

Water takes 2400 kJ/kg to boil. A lot of the 554 kJ/kg is gammas, and of this energy only about 10 percent, I guess, will be deposited in the same body -- you -- as that in which it began, but still, that makes a 68-kg person produce 2 kg of steam, and the rest of him be well-done.

411:

I've only read about a third of the posts, so apologies if I repeat someones comment.

Energy, If you're not allowing recovery of momentum, but need conservation of same, then an energy source could be achieved by dropping a unit into close orbit around the sun, proximity depending on your technical ability, you could pull out plasma, magnetic fields, whatever the tech would allow. Over to Scotty.

Warfare, What happens if you're a little over enthusiastic in your application of kinetic energy? say 99.95c? 10 tons of e=mc2 would make the inability to send radioactives redundant, and a big hole in your latest unfriends continent. There could also be pressure differentials to be exploited. Otherwise, it just becomes a bridgehead problem.

Social.
Smuggling, stays much the same, as long as less recources are applied than profits made, always going to be someone who figures out how to do it.
Population, more distribution of affluent classes, more concentration of deprived economic groups around the new cornucopia. New meanings to 'gated communities'.

Enviromental, bio-contamination a real possibility, inadvertent or deliberate, I like peter f hamiltons model for his wormholes for this.
Thermal, you're essentialy pumping a lot of heat directly into the system, particularly if you're allowing off world energy exploitation, pehaps a thermal dump on Pluto?

Last, you've made this a wired system, bolt cutters anyone?

412:

Didn't Larry Niven do this already?

413:

If you're going to drop in at the end of a thread nearly a fortnight after the last previous comment, perhaps you could check to see if such has already been mentioned? I mean, even if you don't have the courtesy to read the previous comments, a moment's grepping the page would have brought up several mentions of Niven's name.

414:

The 27m3 of angry nanobots arriving might be even more distressing than 27 cubes of sweaty dynamite, and deporting annoying persons will be a lot quicker, too.

The device could make a useful gate for a prison (rations come in, and nothing goes out...).

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