Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Removed from Reality : Mysterious Disappearences

Teleportation has traditionally remained in the province of science fiction: Isaac Asimov’s “Pebble in the Sky” features a protagonist who steps out of a 20th century Chicago building to find himself in a dead, radioactive Earth of the far future. Non-fans are aware of teleportation and its perils from the events in the 1950’s classic “The Fly” and its sequel. Even generations raised on Star Trek’s apparently seamless transporter units know that teleportation entails risks.

Is instantaneous – though unwilling – abstraction from one location to another possible or merely the stuff of fantasy and hearsay? Recent scientific advances in the field of teleportation have given a smattering of dignity to what until recently was dismissed as “crankery”. In 1993, a group of scientists of international repute stated that teleportation, far from science fiction jiggery-pokery, was theoretically possible. This opened the door to a number of experiments in this direction, none of them, however, involving the translation of solid objects, much less living ones. For the time being, science has restricted itself to experimental demonstrations of teleportation using “trapped ions” and laser beams. Possible applications for these research endeavors include long-range quantum communications, but no transporter rooms a la Star Trek, since the scientific principles at work suggest that the original must be destroyed in order for teleportation to work.

But what about events of teleportation that do not involve any inconvenient machinery? Sudden, unexpected transportation to “somewhere else” is without a doubt one of the most terrifying things that could conceivably happen to anyone. Imagine yourself walking down a familiar street or driving along a road on the way to work or play when a sudden, unexplained force removes you from your surrounding reality to deposit you elsewhere: another city, state or even country, without any memory of how you got there or in many cases, how to return.

Gone for Good?

Mist-shrouded El Yunque has always been a source of mystery involving paranormal phenomena and more recently, UFOs. Dozens of individuals, largely weekenders and campers, have disappeared inexplicably from this mountain rainforest. A child disappeared while walking down a trail with its parents, and even rescue teams sent to investigate have been swallowed by this deceptive wilderness area. Forestry officials are quick to blame quicksand and unexplored sinkholes as the reasons for these evaporations, even when they occurred in areas far from where any of the aforementioned conditions would be encountered.

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