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The Impossible Leap

Published by John Wiley & Sons, New York (2005)

"Terrific science writing." (Booklist, 2005)

"This singular work deserves a wide audience." (Publishers Weekly, May 2005)

The first book on the science and future of this remarkable phenomenon

A science fiction staple and a fantasy of those with long commutes, teleportation – sending something from here to there in the blink of an eye – has long seemed likely to remain a fictional construct. But as Darling explains in this marvelous work, teleportation in one form or another has been happening in laboratories for a few years and is on its way to becoming a routine part of life – at least for information. Darling (Equations of Eternity) uses lively, companionable prose to explain such heady subjects as quantum mechanics, the property of entanglement (which Einstein referred to as "spooky action at a distance") and information theory. While these concepts appear to fly in the face of reason, the author is able to make sense of them and put them in the context of other new ideas that at first may be impossible to accept. After tracing the history of developments that became key to teleportation, the text delves into its use for secret communications, massive parallel data processing and investigating quantum mechanics; it also examines the moral, spiritual and philosophical questions that will arise if "beaming" people up ever becomes possible. Suitable for a pop-science audience, especially those looking for a way into quantum mechanics and wave-particle duality, this singular work deserves a wide audience.

Publishers Weekly

Teleportation is cool. Captain Kirk stands on the pad, and Scotty beams him up, down, and all around. Cooler is that teleportation may become practical soon. Computer scientists abetted by physicists are now exploiting quantum phenomena to teleport photons, mostly, and some atoms, though not all that far. As for anything big enough to see, well . . . Darling predicts that inanimate objects, at least, will be teleported eventually, and he broaches human teleportation and the philosophical, religious, and social questions it may raise fore and aft of the enlightening main text here, which begins with light. Darling chronicles the varying historical fortunes and the eventual merger of particle and wave theories of light before turning to the quantum phenomenon of entanglement and information theorists' appropriation of quantum mechanics because information comes in particles (bits), too. Cryptographers then wondered whether in entanglement lay the means to create absolutely secure messages. Darling's descriptions of recent experiments are readable, if not always transparent, and the – science – historical text that surrounds them is both. Terrific science writing.