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Star Trek transporters are said to be incapable of transporting antimatter. What does this really mean? What would be the result if one tried to transport a magnetically contained piece of antimatter:

  1. The transporter will fail to lock on the entire object?
  2. The entire object will dematerialize, but only the matter parts will material on the other side (the antimatter being lost in the buffer)?
  3. The matter dematerializes, leaving the antimatter in contact with the environment, which will result in its annihilation and the destruction of the surroundings?
  4. Something altogether different?
  • Maybe it turns into red matter? – CamelBlues Mar 22 '12 at 23:46
  • it's one of those verbs like 'call' or 'mail' in the present day. unless specifically implied by context, we assume these to be the electronic versions. – HNL Sep 2 '14 at 12:08
  • Downvoting, because the premise is contradicted by the first two live-action ST series. – Lexible Sep 4 '15 at 18:31
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In the TOS episode "Obsession", Kirk and Ensign Garrovick beam down to Tycho IV with an ounce of antimatter held in suspension. Kirk detonates it to destroy a gaseous creature that feeds on hemoglobin.

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Also, in the TNG episode "Peak Performance", Wesley beams his science project from Enterprise to Hathaway in order to use the antimatter within it to give Hathaway warp capability.

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Since we've seen that the transporter can transport antimatter, I cannot accept the premise of the question.

  • TNG Writer's manual itself states that antimatter cannot be transported. – HNL Mar 23 '12 at 4:04
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    TNG Writer's manual was wrong, and ignored in VOY. – aramis Mar 24 '12 at 17:30
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    In the TNG episode "Peak Performance", Wesley gets his "science experiment" beamed onto the Hathaway. The purpose was to sneak a bit of anti-matter onto the ship to make it warp-capable, enabling it to perform the "jump" which saves the day at the episode climax. So much for the writer's manual. – Anthony X Aug 31 '14 at 20:13
  • @AnthonyX Ha, I'd forgotten that one. I've added it to the answer. – Kyle Jones Sep 1 '14 at 15:17
  • Never let the rules get in the way of a good plot device. These are exceptions that prove the rule, not that break it. – user16696 Jul 16 '15 at 21:07
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First off, from Wiki:

According to the TNG Technical Manual, the transporter cannot move antimatter, but in the VOY episode "Dark Frontier" Voyager transported a live photon torpedo equipped with antimatter onto a Borg ship.
The animated series episode "One of Our Planets is Missing" has the Enterprise beaming a chunk of antimatter into a stasis box.


As for why Technical Manual says so:

In order to do the transportation, the object needs to be analyzed to figure out and store its molecular structure. If the analysis is done with normal particles (say, electron scanning, to get to required resolutions): POOF!

Even if the scanning would be possible (say, able to switch to positrons), how are you going to generate antimatter particles for re-materialization? I don't think transporter technology is able to generate antimatter in large quantities.

And even if you plugged it into an antimatter particle storage unit, your option #3 happens, unless you beam something into a complete magnetically sealed vacuum.

But standard issue transporters would likely fail on the first step.

  • I also saw mentions that Antimatter Spread was somehow trasnported, but couldn't confirm that transporters were actually involved. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Mar 22 '12 at 17:48
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    Key being "standard issue transporters" perhaps they can be easily modified to attempt transfer. Perhaps it is simply more dangerous for all the reasons mentioned. I see no reason why a replicator (opposite side of the transporter) shouldn't be able to create antimatter. Seems like a question of timing. Make the containment field first, then add in the antimatter. That explains the few instances where it was done in the shows. – DampeS8N Mar 22 '12 at 19:22
  • @DampeS8N Replicators have no chance of it. I don't see how the matter-reconfiguration type could suddenly turn it into antimatter, and the energy-to-matter type would have to use up as much energy as the antimatter would be able to generate. Transporters, on the other hand, have the energy in the target being beamed aboard to draw from - it's not being created from energy in that case. – Izkata Mar 22 '12 at 23:28
  • @Izkata, Replicators are based on transporter technology. The patterns for replication are transporter patterns, and that's why they are often said to be a little off, because they have suffered pattern degradation. So in a very real sense, the re-materialization at the 'other' end of a transporter is a replicator action. That's what I was referring to. – DampeS8N Mar 23 '12 at 0:07
  • In Universe - we have seen that the transporters even as far back as TOS can send or receive anti-matter. I believe every episode that does this has some line about "making adjustments to the transporter" to allow for it. Out of Universe - I think the show runners were trying to prevent easy solutions like transporter-bombs and instant-refueling. – SteveED Mar 23 '12 at 0:33

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