Russia aims to develop teleportation in 20 years

It’s a question that physicists, philosophers, and science fiction writers have pondered for decades: how to travel from one place to another without travelling through the space in between.

Now a Kremlin-backed research program is seeking to make the teleportation technology behind Captain Kirk’s transporter a reality.

A proposed multi-trillion pound strategic development program drawn up forVladimir Putin would seek to develop teleportation by 2035.

“It sounds fantastical today, but there have been successful experiments at Stanford at the molecular level,” Alexander Galitsky, a prominent investor in the country’s technology sector, told Russia’s Kommersant daily on Wednesday. “Much of the tech we have today was drawn from science fiction films 20 years ago.”

The Star-Trek style target is listed in the National Technological Initiative, a state-sponsored strategic development plan designed pour investment into research and development sector in a number of key sectors.

The $2.1 trillion (£1.4 trillion) “road map” for development of the cybernetics market to 2035 also includes developing a Russian computer programming language, secure cybernetic communications, quantum computing, and neural interfaces (direct connections between computers and human brains), Kommersant reported.

The goal is not as outlandish as it might seem.

In 2014, scientists at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands showed for the first time that it was possible to teleport information encoded into sub-atomic particles between two points three metres apart with 100% reliability.

While teleportation remains a remote prospect, experts believe significant progress in quantum computing and neural interfaces is likely in the next few decades.

The program appears to be part of a new Kremlin drive to boost Russia’s IT sector and high-tech economy.

Mr Putin heaped praise on Russia’s IT sector earlier this week when he met a team of programmers from St Petersburg state university who won the 2016 international “programming olympiad.”

Russia has a talented programming community and a small but vibrant software sector that has produced several successful IT companies, including Yandex and Kaspersky Labs.

Western governments also believe Russia has leveraged its computing talent to put together one of the most fearsome state-sponsored hacking and cyber-warfare programs on the planet.


Dirty planes

Germs are everywhere. That’s what we were told in school, but how does this connect with our everyday experiences? There is perhaps no better setting to demonstrate this than where people from around the world come together as they travel between cities, states, and countries. To find out just how dirty the airports and airplanes that we rely on for business and vacation really are, we sent a microbiologist to take samples from five airports and four flights.

The general consensus from this study: Airports and airplanes are dirtier than your home (NSF, 2011). Surprisingly, it is the one surface that our food rests on – the tray table – that was the dirtiest of all the locations and surfaces tested. Since this could provide bacteria direct transmission to your mouth, a clear takeaway from this is to eliminate any direct contact your food has with the tray table. It’s also advisable to bring hand sanitizer for any other dirty surface you may touch along your journey.

To summarize, here is a ranking of the dirtiest places and surfaces on airplanes and at airports:

Tray table – 2,155 CFU/sq. in.
Drinking fountain buttons – 1,240 CFU/sq. in.
Overhead air vent – 285 CFU/sq. in.
Lavatory flush button – 265 CFU/sq. in.
Seatbelt buckle – 230 CFU/sq. in.
Bathroom stall locks – 70 CFU/sq. in.


Bathrooms were some of the cleaner surfaces tested, which may be contrary to conventional thought. Regular cleaning schedules mean these surfaces are sanitized more frequently. This is a good thing; while not discrediting the importance of cleaning all major surfaces between flights, bathrooms have the most potential for fecal coliforms to spread.

Airline staff are under more pressure in recent years to quickly deboard arriving flights and board departing flights to maximize profit for their carriers. Boarding times have actually increased since 1970, from approximately 20 passengers per minute down to nine in 1998 (Milne and Kelly, 2014). There are many things that the cabin crew must attend to, so tray tables are often only cleaned at the end of the day. This study demonstrates the need for tray tables to be cleaned between flights. Most carriers set their own cleaning standards since federal regulations through agencies such as the FAA and OSHA are quite minimal in this area (McCartney, 2014). The EPA does occasionally monitor water quality, however (EPA, 2009).

What is needed is a procedure for increased efficiency of boarding and deplaning that gives the cabin crew more time to do a thorough cleaning between flights. Much research is being done on theoretical boarding procedures; however, one aspect that could improve boarding time is encouraging more checked bags and thus reducing carry-on luggage. Boarding delays have been estimated to cost carriers a net $8 billion in 2007 for the United States alone (Ball et al., 2010). This indicates that lost revenues from checked bag fees might be recouped through reduced boarding time, with the added benefit of giving airline staff more time to clean between flights.


The return-trip effect

You may have noticed it the last time you went on a long journey — by foot, by car or by plane: the outbound portion of your trip seemed to take a lifetime, while the (more or less identical) leg that brought you home felt like it flew by.

Scientists have noticed this “return trip effect” too, and are beginning to hone their understanding of why we experience it.

In past years, researchers have suggested that it has to do with the way our bodies experience and measure time as it passes, or the way we remember the trips we take after the fact, or perhaps a bit of both. On Wednesday, a team in Japan released a new report in the journal PLOS ONE detailing the latest effort to solve the mystery. This group’s take? That the return trip effect is created by travelers’ memories of their journeys — and those memories alone.

“The return trip effect is not a matter of measuring time itself. Rather, it depends on time judgment based on memory,” said Ryosuke Ozawa of the Dynamic Brain Network Laboratory at the Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences at Osaka University.

To test out what is going on when the trip home seems shorter, Ozawa and colleagues, then at Kyoto University, created an experiment in which 20 healthy men, between 20 and 30 years of age, watched varying combinations of movies filmed by an experimenter who held a camera in front of the chest while walking two different routes. Half of the group viewed an outbound and return roundtrip on a single route; the other half, walking videos of two different routes in separate locations.

The videos were all approximately 26 minutes long, and the participants viewed them in individual sessions, seated in a chair. Researchers asked test subjects, who were not allowed to have access to clocks, to tell them each time they thought three minutes had passed, and monitored subjects’ heart activity electrocardiograms to assess whether the autonomic nervous system plays a role in the effect. The team also administered a questionnaire at the end of the two movies to see if participants perceived that one trip took longer than the other.

In the end, only that last test — the after-the-fact questionnaire — revealed strong evidence of the return trip effect.

“During the initial and return trip, [participants] do not seem to experience the passing time any differently, but when asked afterwards, they have a strong feeling that the return trip felt shorter than the initial trip did,” explained psychologist Niels van de Ven, of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, who has studied the return trip effect in the past but was not involved in Ozawa’s research.

In an email, Van de Ven told the Los Angeles Times that he thought the new study supported his own finding that the return trip effect originates from “a violation of expectations.”

“People are often too optimistic about an initial trip after which it [feels] quite long,” he said. “When heading back we think, ‘It’s going to take a long time again,’ after which it feels not as bad.”

Or perhaps the return trip effect exists simply because people believe it does and respond in kind, he speculated.

Ozawa said he would like to examine the effect in further detail — analyzing what happens when a filmed traveler returns to his original station via a different route, for instance. He said he had experienced the phenomenon himself during daily activities and had wanted to know more about it for many years.

Clear as water right? :-O


Pilots, sleep & planes

I am a pilot and here is my experience:

A flight of 14 hours means that there are two full crews (for flights requiring two operating pilots). This usually means that the first 30 and last 45 minutes have all four pilots on the flight deck and during the remaining time, two of them are taking a break, splitting it up so that the operating crew—the ones at the controls for landing—get a long break around the middle of the flight, so as to be adequately rested for the arrival, but fully engaged with the last portion.

Many planes have rest areas; small rooms with a couple bunks and a couple seats. Sometimes these seats will have entertainment systems similar to those in the cabin. Other planes will have designated rest seats in the cabin; usually business/first-class seats with curtains to separate them from the light and some of the noise of the cabin.

With such a long flight, it would be unusual if some sleeping weren’t involved. Even if the flight left at body-clock 0800 and arrived at body-clock 2000, the flight crew has been in the plane since at least 0700, arriving at the airport likely 30 minutes earlier. With a close home or layover hotel, they might have awakened at 0530, but it’s likely earlier. That makes for a long, tiring day. Some sleeping is in order, but they can also pursue any other normal form of diversion available to the passengers: read, watch movies, eat, listen to music, play games, etc.

But come on! You have the chance to get paid to sleep! I nap aggressively, like lives depended on it.