teleportation (science fiction)
The paranormal transportation of human bodies through closed doors and over a distance is a comparatively rare but still a thoroughly documented occurrence. It is a composite phenomenon fitting between levitation (frequently reported) and apports (objects which were frequently reported in séances in generations past but which were almost totally fraudulently produced). According to the testimony of the Bible, teleportation is by no means new in human experience. We find in Ezek. 11:1, "Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the East gate of the Lord's house which looketh eastward." Elijah, walking with Elisha, was carried away by a whirlwind. Habakkuk was carried from Judea to Babylon to bring food to Daniel in the lion's den, then carried back to Judea through the air.
In the Acts of the Apostles 5:23, the warders of St. Peter's prison testify: "The prison house we found shut in all safety, and the keepers standing before the doors; but when we opened we found no man within." When St. Philip baptized the Ethiopian, the author of the Acts of the Apostles notes (8:39-40), "And when they were come up out of the water, the spirit of the Lord caught away Philip that the eunuch saw him no more…. But Philip was found at Azotus." The distance be tween Gaza, the scene of the baptism, and Azotus was 30 miles.
Reports of this phenomenon reappeared very early in modern Spiritualism. J. B. Ferguson said from his observation of the Davenport brothers:
"From as good testimony as I have of any fact that I can accept without personal knowledge, I believe that these young men have been raised into the air to the ceilings of rooms, and have been transported a distance of miles by the same force and intelligence, or intelligent force, that has for 11 years worked in their presence so many marvels."
In England, accounts of transportation were published in the Spiritualist press between 1871 and 1874 of Agnes Guppy-Volckman, Charles Williams, and Frank Herne (Spiritual Magazine, July 1871); of Lottie Fowler (The Spiritualist, March 15, 1872); and of F. W. Monck (Spiritual Magazine, 1875), the latter reportedly making an aerial journey from Bristol to Swindon.
Thomas Blyton writes in his reminiscences in Light (April 11, 1931):
"I was present on one occasion at a private home séance at Hackney in London, when without warning or preparation, in total darkness, Mr. Frank Herne was suddenly placed in the midst of the sitters; and after recovering from our surprise and resuming the séance, Mr. Herne's overcoat, hat and umbrella were dropped on the table. John King, speaking in the direct voice, explained that his band of spirit people had found an unexpected opportunity to transport Mr. Herne from where he had been with friends, witnessing a theatrical play that evening; on his appearance at Hackney he was in a semi-conscious condition."
Grave suspicion surrounds the mediumship of Herne and Williams, however, the latter being exposed in fraud on two occasions. In 1876 Monck was imprisoned after his fake materializations were discovered.
Very little evidential value can be attached to the episode in Catherine Berry's Experiences in Spiritualism (1876), according to which, at the studio of Frederick A. Hudson, the spirit photographer, between the hours of 2 and 5 P.M. , in the presence of Frank Herne and herself:
"Mr. Williams was seen to descend from the roof of the studio; he fell on the ground very gently. I do not think he was hurt, but sadly frightened. The spirit 'John King' was rather vexed with him for not obeying a summons to come into the studio, and told Mr. Williams that this putting him through the roof bodily was done as a punishment, and he hoped it would teach him not to disobey in the future. We all went immediately to see if there was an opening in the roof, but there was none, and the boards had all the appearance of not having been disturbed."
Guppy-Volckman's transportation must also be called into question. It occurred on June 3, 1871. There were ten witnesses, including the two fraudulent mediums, Williams and Herne, and eight sitters. It was a sequel to Herne's previous questionable transportation to Guppy-Volckman's house. In answer to a witty expressed wish of a sitter, in a moment of time Guppy-Volckman was apparently carried bodily from her home in Highbury (North London) to the house of Williams on Lamb's Conduit Street (West Central London), a distance of over three miles.
The case was the occasion of much facetious comment in the daily press. The Echo printed the only serious report. The story was summed up on the basis of the sitters' written testimony by Abraham Wallace in Light (1918, p. 259) as follows:
"Neither door nor window could have been opened without the admission of light. After various phenomena usual in dark séances had taken place someone asked Katie King, one of the controls, to bring something. Another member of the circle observed, in a joking sort of way, 'I wish you would bring Mrs. Guppy.' Upon which a third remarked: 'Good gracious, I hope not, she is one of the biggest women in London.' Katie's voice at once said 'I will, I will, I will.' Then John's voice was heard to exclaim, 'Keep still, can't you?' In an instant somebody called out: 'Good God, there is something on my head' simultaneously with a heavy bump on the table and one or two screams. A match was struck, and there was Mrs. Guppy on the table with the whole of the sitters seated round it closely packed together as they sat at the commencement. Mrs. Guppy appeared to be in a trance, and was perfectly motionless. Great fears were entertained that the shock would be injurious to her. She had one arm over her eyes, and was arrayed in a loose morning gown with a pair of bedroom slippers on, and in a more or less décolleté condition. When telling me the story, Mrs. Volckman very naturally said how much she disliked having been brought in such a state into the presence of strangers. There was a pen in one hand, which was down by her side. From the first mention of bringing her to the time she was on the table three minutes did not elapse. It seems that Mrs. Guppy had a pen in one hand and an account book in the other. She had been making up her weekly accounts and had just written the word 'onions,' the ink still being wet on the page."
After Guppy-Volckman had shaken off the effect of the shock, the séance was continued with her presence. During this part of the séance, her boots, hat, and clothes arrived from her home, as well as lots of flowers. Both Herne and Williams were levitated and disappeared in turns.
After the séance one Mr. Harrison, editor of The Spiritualist, together with three of the sitters, offered to escort Guppy-Volckman to her home. Then their inquiries convinced them that Guppy-Volckman was really sitting in the room with Miss Neyland, writing her accounts at the time that one of the séance sitters wished her to be brought. Her husband also bore testimony to the fact that his wife, shortly before her disappearance, had been up to the billiard room where he was playing with a friend. This visitor corroborated his statement.
Regarding this visit of inquiry, Frank Podmore states in his book Modern Spiritualism (1902):
"They there learnt from Miss Neyland, a friend of Mrs. Guppy's, who had come out as a medium under her auspices, that an hour or two previously she had been sitting with Mrs. Guppy near the fire making up accounts when suddenly looking up she found that her companion had disappeared, leaving a slight haze near the ceiling."
The report of this marvelous phenomenon gave rise to repetitions.
In another case, the authenticity of which is difficult to establish, the subject of transportation was a sitter in Guppy-Volckman's house. His name was Henderson. Ten sitters held the séance on November 2, 1873. Suddenly it was discovered that Henderson broke the séance chain and disappeared. The doors and windows of the room were locked. About the same moment of his disappearance, he was discovered at a distance of a mile and a half in the backyard of the house of his friend, Mr. Stoke. Nine people noticed his sudden arrival. The night was wet. His boots and clothes were "almost" dry.
There is one transportation case associated with William Eglinton (also cited as a fraudulent medium). It occurred on March 16, 1878, at Mrs. Makdougall Gregory's house. Two other mediums, Arthur Colman and J. W. Fletcher, were present with five sitters. One of the sitters suggested that Colman should be taken through the ceiling. Almost immediately Eglinton disappeared. The noise of a violent bump was heard and Eglinton was found in the room above on the floor in a trance.
Several cases were put on record in the first years of the present century. The story of one is recounted in the Annals of Psychic Science (vol. 9). The place was San Jose, Costa Rica, the date between 1907 and 1909 and the persons concerned were the children of Buenaventura Corralès. The oldest child, Ophelia Corralès, was 18 years old. There were two younger sisters and a brother. Separately and together the children frequently vanished from the séance room, found themselves in the garden and returned, to their great delight, in the same mysterious manner. To quote from the account of Alberto Brenes, a professor at the Law Academy:
"A few minutes passed in absolute silence. Suddenly we heard knocks coming from the pavilion; we turned up the gas and found the children were no longer there. The doors were examined and found to be completely closed. Two persons were deputed to look for the children. When the door of the room was opened they were found standing in a row, talking and laughing at what had taken place.
"They said that they had been brought there, one by one; first little Flora, then Berta, and finally Miguel—their respective ages being seven, twelve and ten years.
"We then asked them how they had been carried and they replied that they had felt a pressure under the arms, then they were lifted up in the air and placed where they were found, but they could not tell us anything more.
"The two investigators then asked the spirits to repeat the translation in the reverse direction; they recommended the children to remain silent where they were, and locking the door, returned to the séance room to give an account of what had happened.
"We resumed the séance after taking the necessary precautions of locking the doors. Then 'Ruiz' came and after recommending all to keep up their spirits, said in a clear and energetic voice: 'Let the children come.' Immediately one of them called out: 'We are here.' The light was turned up and the three children appeared in a line in the same order in which they had been previously found. On this occasion all three had been transported at the same time."
Again, we must add, considerable suspicion surrounds the mediumship of Ophelia Corralès.
Joseph Lapponi, medical officer to Popes Leo XVII and Pius X, recorded in his Hypnotism and Spiritism (1906) the case of the Pansini brothers, Paul and Alfred, eight and ten years old respectively. They experienced mysterious transportation in a half hour from Ruvo to Molfetta. Another time, at 12:30 P.M. , they disappeared from Ruvo and at one o'clock found themselves on a boat at sea near Barletta, making towards Trinitapoli. Once they disappeared from the square of Ruvo and found themselves, ten minutes later, before the house of their uncle Jerome Maggiore in Trani. Several other mysterious flights took place to Gios, Biseglie, Mariotta, and Terlizzi. Once they disappeared in Bishop Berardi's presence while he was discussing these phenomena with their mother. The windows and doors were closed. In another volume, Spedizione e Spiriti, the same author told of the flying brothers of Bari who could transfer themselves over a distance of 45 kilometers in 15 minutes.
Henry Llewellyn had a series of sittings with the medium F. G. F. Craddock at Burslem, Staffs. The medium sat in a corner of the room from which a door led into a cellar beneath. The cellar door was completely covered with a curtain tacked around the opening, so that any disturbance there would have been at once detected. The curtains were drawn over the medium.
Some time later, the medium was discovered in a cataleptic state suspended horizontally across the top of the curtained corner of the room, with his feet and head lodged on each end of about two inches of boarding. The curtain was opened so that all present could see the sight for themselves, and then closed in the hope that the medium would be put safely on the floor again. Hearing no movement for some time the curtain was opened again, when to the bewilderment of the experimenters it was found that Craddock was gone. The cellar door and its curtain were undisturbed. Shortly afterward they heard someone moving about in the next room; when the door of that room was unlocked, the medium walked out of it with his hands still tied behind him. On another occasion Craddock was found to be missing and was discovered in the bedroom directly over the place in which they were sitting. This case must also be treated with reserve, since Craddock was also exposed in fraud on several occasions.
A report of Willi Reichel's experiences with C. V. Miller, the California materialization medium, as given in Psychische Studien (January-February 1906) states:
" 'Betsy,' the principal control of Mr. Miller, called Herr Reichel first into the cabinet in order that he might assure himself of the presence of the medium asleep. He examined all again and considers it impossible that the medium could have quitted the cabinet in a normal way; in front of the curtains were seated the 27 persons who formed the circle on that evening, and the windows looked out on a much frequented street. The weather, moreover, was very windy and wet, and it would have been impossible, he says, to open a window without causing a current of air to be felt at once. After about four minutes 'Betsy' told him to go with three other persons to the first floor and Mr. Miller's housekeeper gave them the keys. They found the medium breathing heavily on a chair; they brought him back into the séance room, where he awoke, remembering nothing."
Franz Hartmann, the well-known Theosophist and writer on occultism, employed the term "magical metathesis." In Occult Review (July 1906), he quoted the case of a Dr. Z., of Florence, a friend of his, who was reportedly transported from Livorns to Florence (100 kilometers) in 15 minutes and deposited in a closed room.
Stepping into the realm of occult magic, the book of Harry de Windt, From Paris to New York by Land (1904), may be cited for an ancient transportation case in which a medicine man, while he was closely watched, disappeared from a tent and was found in an unconscious condition in a tent half a mile away.
The medium Ada Besinnet was said to have been several times the subject of transportation, but there is no evidential record of the feat. Reporting on the Polish medium Franek Kluski in Psychic Science (October 1925, p. 214), one Professor Pawlovski writes:
"The most extraordinary case related to me by the members of the circle is that of Mr. Kluski having been fetched by the apparitions, or disappearing from the sealed and locked séance room. The astonished sitters found him in a rather distant room of the apartment quietly sleeping on a couch. I report the case upon the responsibility of my friends, whom I have no reason to distrust."
Harald Nielsson states in Light (November 1, 1919), in an account of his experiences with Indridi Indridason, the Icelandic medium:
"We have had on several occasions the experience of matter being brought through matter, and one evening the medium herself was taken through the wall into a room which was locked and in darkness. This sounds incredible, but many things occur in the presence of physical mediums which must seem absurd to men who have not themselves investigated them. But they are nevertheless true."
In Psychic Research (March 1930), an account was published by Harry Price and H. Kohn of the poltergeist persecution of an Indian boy, Damodar Ketkar, of Poona, India. According to Kohn, who was a lecturer in languages at the governmental Deccan College (Bombay University), Poona, the following transportation case occurred in April 1928 during the most violent period of the manifestations:
"At 9:45 A.M. on April 23, my sister says in a letter, the elder boy (his brother, Ramkrishna Bapat) suddenly materialised in front of [her]…. He looked bright but amazed, and said 'I have just come from Karjat.' He didn't come through any door. My sister describes the posture of the boy as having been most remarkable. When she looked up from her letter-writing she saw him bending forward; both his arms were hanging away from his sides, and the hands hanging limp—his feet were not touching the floor, as she saw a distinct space between his feet and the threshold. It was precisely the posture of a person who has been gripped round the waist and carried, and therefore makes no effort but is gently dropped at his destination."
This account is unique, as in no other case was the actual arrival of the transported individual seen.
Two accounts of transportation are to be found in the amazing case of Carlos Mirabelli, the South American medium. On the basis of the original Portuguese documents, psychical researcher E. J. Dingwall, in Psychic Research (July 1930), recounts:
"… the transportation of the medium from the railway station at Luz [São Paolo] to the town of S. Vincente, a distance of some 90 kilometers. The report states that at the time the medium was at the station at Luz in company with a number of people and was intending to travel to Santos. Shortly before the train started he suddenly disappeared to the astonishment of everybody, his presence in S. Vincente being ascertained 15 minutes later by telephone, it being proved that he was met in the town exactly two minutes after his disappearance…. On one occasion when the medium had been secured in his armchair by means of various ligatures he vanished utterly from his position, the doors and windows remaining both locked and firmly secured. Five sitters remained in the séance room whilst the rest went in search of the missing man. He was soon discovered in a side room lying in an easy chair and singing to himself."
A well-documented case was the transportation of Marquis Carlo Centurione Scotto, at Millesimo Castle, on July 29, 1928. Psychical researcher Ernesto Bozzano reported on his investigation of the case in Luce e Ombra (September-October 1928). It can be summarized as follows:
During the course of the sitting, the medium Marquis Centurione Scotto exclaimed in a frightened voice: "I can no longer feel my legs!" The gramophone was stopped. An interval of death-like silence followed. The medium was addressed, without answer, then felt for. His place was empty. The sitters turned on the red light. The doors were still securely locked with the key on the inside but the medium had disappeared.
All the rooms of the castle were searched without result. Two and a half hours passed when it occurred to the sitters to ask Gwendolyn Kelley Hack to try and get into communication, through automatic writing, with her spirit guide "Imperator." After several attempts in which the sitters were only told, "Do not be anxious, we are watching and guarding" and that the "medium is asleep," the correct information came through: "Go to the right, then outside. Wall and Gate. He is lying— hay—hay—on soft place." The communication was signed by the cross of "Imperator."
The place indicated a granary in the stable yard. The great entrance door was locked, and the key was not in the lock. They ran back to fetch it and, entering, found a small door that had been previously overlooked. This door was also locked, but the key was in the keyhole on the outside. They opened it with the greatest caution. On a heap of hay and oats, the medium was comfortably lying, immersed in profound sleep. When he first regained consciousness and found himself lying in the stable he feared that he had gone out of his mind and burst into tears.
The authenticity of the phenomenon was unexpectedly confirmed by a message from New York from the spirit guide "Bert Everitt," who, manifesting in a sitting with the medium George Valiantine, referred to the Millesimo experiments and stated "that he had helped Cristo d'Angelo [the spirit guide] to carry out the phenomenon of the transport of the medium into the granary." This was received a whole month before a report of the case had been published in Italy or elsewhere.
The marquis himself described his impressions as follows: "At this instant I could not feel my legs any more, having the impression of going into trance. I asked Fabienne for her hand, which I took willingly to reassure myself. After having taken the hand I felt something descending over my brain and my face— and I felt myself light … light … light … but of such lightness … I felt myself as if fainting and I … Then I recall nothing more. Nothing, nothing."
Many cases have been reported in the hagiogaphic literature of the transportation of saints, and sometimes their bilocation (simultaneous appearance in different places over a great distance) is noted.
(See Gambier Bolton ; Psychic Force )
Begg, Paul. Into Thin Air: People Who Disappear. London: David & Charles, 1979.
Fodor, Nandor. Mind Over Space. New York: Citadel Press, 1962.
Fort, Charles. The Books of Charles Fort. New York: Henry Holt, 1941.
Harrison, Michael. Vanishings. London: New English Library, 1981.
Humankind wanted to go to the Moon, and so the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) built a Saturn rocket . People wanted to live in space, and so an army of astronauts and engineers assembled a space station . Now humankind wants to travel to Mars and send robots to explore other galaxies. Thus, it is necessary to design propulsion systems that go faster and farther than ever before. From solar sails, to nuclear rockets, to propulsion with hot gases, to wild ideas that rival Star Trek' s concept of "warp speed," scientists have embarked on an adventure that goes beyond the works of the most creative science fiction writers.
The first logical step in this process is to improve conventional rockets by packing more energy into a smaller volume. Instead of burning liquid oxygen and hydrogen, as the space shuttle's main engines do, a future rocket might burn solid hydrogen or use a very dense combustible. However, this method still requires that the vehicle carry its fuel into space.
NASA is working on a radical concept called the Lightcraft, a machine that resembles a flying saucer powered by air heated by a high-energy laser. An advanced version of the Lightcraft would be a large helium-filled balloon that would focus microwaves beamed from the ground or space. The balloon would be ringed by ion engines that would electrify the air to push the craft upward. Deep Space 1 is the first probe powered entirely by an ion engine, which runs on electrically charged gas.
A more powerful rocket would use nuclear fusion , the power source at the heart of the Sun. Controlled fusion—combining the nuclei of two lightweight atoms and reaping energy from the process—might achieve the speed needed to get to other planets, a speed 200 times faster than that provided by the space shuttle's main engines.
Solar Sails and Antimatter Propulsion
Even more radical is the idea of the solar sail. Just as a sailing vessel uses the wind to push against the surface of its sail, satellites and small robotic spacecraft could use light particles from the Sun—called photons—to push a membrane made of very light carbon fibers. Because photons produce such small amounts of energy, the sail would have to be huge, up to several kilometers wide.
One of the most eccentric concepts in intergalactic propulsion is rooted in the popular belief that an antimatter particle coming in contact with its matter counterpart (for example,electrons and positrons or protons and antiprotons) would yield the most energy of any reaction in physics. The theory is known as antimatter annihilation. The efficiency would be thousands of times greater than that of any other method yet considered, probably taking a spacecraft to Mars in only six weeks.
Beyond the warp drives of Star Trek 's Enterprise but still within the realm of the possible, there are ideas for intelligent rockets that would be able to fix themselves and evolve almost like living things, achieving propulsion without rockets. Before this can happen, however, traditional space transportation will have to become like flying an airplane: routine, safe, and inexpensive.
see also Antimatter Propulsion (volume 4); Faster-Than-Light Travel (volume 4); Ion Propulsion (volume 4); Laser Propulsion (volume 4); Lightsails (volume 4); Nuclear Propulsion (volume 4); Science Fiction (volume 4); Star Trek (volume 4); Star Wars (volume 4).
Friedman, Louis. Starsailing: Solar Sails and Interstellar Travel. New York: JohnWiley & Sons, 1988.
Marchal, C. "Solar Sails and the ARSAT Satellite—Scientific Applications and Techniques."L'Aeronautique et L'Astronautique 127 (1987):53-57.
tel·e·port / ˈteləˌpôrt/ • v. (esp. in science fiction) transport or be transported across space and distance instantly. • n. 1. a center providing interconnections between different forms of telecommunications, esp. one that links satellites to ground-based communications. 2. an act of teleporting. DERIVATIVES: tel·e·por·ta·tion / ˌteləˌpôrˈtāshən/ n.