Geoff Brumfiel via NPR:
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“I have a hard time saying this with a straight face, but I will: You can teleport a single atom from one place to another,” says Chris Monroe, a biophysicist at the University of Maryland.
His lab’s setup in a university basement looks nothing like the slick transporters that rearrange atoms and send them someplace else on Star Trek. Instead, a couple million dollars’ worth of lasers, mirrors and lenses lay sprawled across a 20-foot table.
“What they do in the TV show is, they send the atoms over a long distance,” says David Hucul, who recently got his Ph.D. with Monroe. “But, really — if you could build anything, you wouldn’t send the atoms.”
That’s because atoms are big and heavy, and you don’t really need them, he explains. The laws of physics say that any atom of carbon is identical to any other atom of carbon.