Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
Now at this point it’s sort of become clichÃ©d to talk about the transporters in Star Trek. I mean the concept is simple enough: Matter from one place is transporter seamlessly to another place. There have been plenty of debates about whether this new person is the same person as before, since they’ve been remade with new molecules. But, what if we’re wrong? What if we’ve all been looking at transporters the wrong way? Has the true method of the transporter already been revealed to us when we weren’t looking? Well, lets find out.
Mirror, Mirror often sits highly as one the great classics of the original Star Trek series. The synopsis, for those not in the know, feature Kirk and co being beamed onto an alternate Enterprise in an ‘evil’ universe. There they have to try and blend in while working out a way of getting back to the ‘prime’ universe. All very standard, right? Science-fiction clichÃ© (before it became a clichÃ©, that is)? But lets look at what actually happens. Kirk and co beam aboard an Enterprise but, for some reason, they’re wearing the uniforms of those in the alternate universe. What happened to their original uniforms? They had them when they left the planet, but when the arrived here, suddenly they’re in new uniforms. Well, lets examine the often discussed â€œdeconstruction/reconstruction of the bodyâ€ theory. The theory goes that the body that arrives on the planet is different to the one that leaves the transporter, since the body is destroyed in the transporter room and an identical clone is created upon arriving at the destination. In other words, you destroy the original and create an identical copy at the same time, a copy with the same memories of the original. Now, the show has supported this theory in the past. For example, when Kirk arrived as two separate clones, that points to the idea that the machine created two Kirks. Okay, so where am I going with this? Well, when the transporter reassembles Kirk and co in the alternate Enterprise, it reassembles their bodies but gives them the minds of the ‘prime’ characters, right? After all, the evil versions minds get put into the bodies of the prime characters. So then, the crew get put into the alternate bodies while keeping their original mind. Perfectly coherent. The answer is… why?
Now I could just use the technobabble the show uses, but I’d rather take my own approach. What if, in Mirror, Mirror, we’re shown how the transporter really works? Now this is where it gets complicated, so lets break it down step by step.
Assumption one: Alternate universes exist. This is pretty much confirmed, so there isn’t too much to debate about it in this regard.
Assumption two: The transporter doesn’t transport things, so much as it destroys the original and makes a perfect copy. Again, been proven before, it’s the common fan theory in this regard.
Assumption three: If all alternate universes exist, there must exist a universe where Kirk happens to be spontaneously created on a planet. After all, it is entirely possible that a bunch of atoms would come together to perfectly form a human being. Unlikely beyond all belief (approaching the very limit of impossible), but still possible and probable. At any moment a sandwich could materialize in front of you as long as there remains the possibility of a sandwich materializing in front of you. Standard multiverse theory: Any possible thing that could happen does happen in some alternate universe.
Assumption four: Building off three, if I flip a coin ten times, there exists a universe where it comes up ten times in a row. That universe is the success, while all the other universes will be a failure.
Conclusion: The transporter doesn’t actually transport anything. It fails miserably and kills everyone that steps inside of it. But, by the virtue of the multiverse, there exists a universe where Kirk arrives exactly when he expected to after getting into the transporter. He has the memories of getting into the transporter (and his entire life), so he believes that the transporter led to his arrival on the planet (instead of his existence on the planet being from complete and utter chance).
So in other words, there must exist a universe where Kirk suddenly appears on the planet with the thought process that he was beaming onto the planet (rather than him suddenly appearing on the planet while having the thought process that he’s in the shower). Like flipping a coin a million times and getting heads each time, this possibility (and thus universe), must exist. Likewise there must be another universe where Kirk suddenly appears in the transporter room while having the belief that he just left the planet. So in a million universes, 999,999 of the times, the transporter ends in Kirk’s death after using it enough times. But in just that one, he continues to use it all his life and survives every time. He believes he is fine when, by pure luck, he happened to have survived the entire time. The transporter doesn’t work, it never has. We just happen to be watching the one universe where they get lucky almost every single time and everything goes right.
So there you have it. A look at the Star Trek transporters and an alternate way they might work. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.