From what I know, transporter beams simply transfer the pattern as an analog signal from point A to point B. However, we see in at least 2 instances (Star Trek: Lower Decks S02 E02 Kayshon: His eyes open and Star Trek TNG S06 E024 Second Chances) that transporters create complete clones.

If that is so, shouldn't there be a significant mass change in the original and the clone?

How does that not happen?

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    You mean instead of one normal Riker, there should have been two mini-Rikers? This seems like a real-world science question (which is somewhat scuppered since teleportation is pretty-much magic anyhow). Mar 26, 2022 at 16:37
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    You mean instead of one normal Riker, there should have been two mini-Rikers? Yep, or something similar and no, teleportation might be magic, transportation isn't! They've explained it pretty well in many posts around here. Mar 26, 2022 at 16:51
  • seems like a real-world science question why do we even have this website then?! I mean, you just mooted the very purpose of this website and of all the other questions like does transportation keep the person same or create a duplicate and destroy the original?! Mar 26, 2022 at 16:53
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    Typically when a transporter clone is created, it's because of a large influx of energy, which can then be converted into mass
    – Valorum
    Mar 26, 2022 at 17:11
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    As @Valorum suggested, at least in the TNG episode that created the duplicate Riker I remember there being some distortion field (aka technobabble for some form of energy) the transporter beam interacted with. Since Lower Decks usually copies things from past Trek before Rick&Mortying it up to the Eleventh presumably the same thing happened there.
    – BMWurm
    Mar 26, 2022 at 17:48

1 Answer 1


Thanks to Heisenberg compensators.


The Heisenberg compensator was a component of the transporter system. The compensator worked around the problems caused by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, allowing the transporter sensors to compensate for their inability to determine both the position and momentum of the target particles to the same degree of accuracy. This ensured the matter stream remained coherent during transport, and no data was lost.

As explained in TNG Second Chances:

LAFORGE: Apparently there was a massive energy surge in the distortion field around the planet just at the moment you tried to beam out. The Transporter Chief tried to compensate by initiating a second containment beam.
DATA: An interesting approach. He must have been planning to reintegrate the two patterns in the transport buffer
RIKER: How was the second pattern able to maintained its integrity?
LAFORGE: The containment beam must have had the exact same phase differential as the distortion field.

LAFORGE showing two containment beams

Because they are using two beams instead of one, twice the beams, twice the compensators. Thus, the copy is made. Overcompensating, if you will :)

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    This doesn't make sense to me. Use of HC does not seem to state or imply that multiple "beams" are used, nor does it state that multiple beams are required. No part of the HC content here explains where the extra energy/mass comes from. The part of this answer that engages with OP's question boils down to a bald assertion that ST uses two beams. Which may be true, and may be the explanation, but is unsupported here.
    – Tom
    Mar 26, 2022 at 18:24
  • @Tom Transporter normally uses one beam. The copying always happened when they used more than one. Heisenberg compensators are used to prevent dataloss in the single beam. You put two beams and both set of compensators do the same thing. "Prevent data loss" means just that: if you think data might be lost, replace it.
    – jo1storm
    Mar 26, 2022 at 18:30
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    You might want to refer to the incidents when a second beam was used (and cloning occured) in your answer to support your conclusion.
    – HorusKol
    Mar 26, 2022 at 20:53
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    @Tom Any scientific explanation of Star Trek technology that makes no sense is probably a correct (or at least valid) in-universe explanation. Mar 27, 2022 at 2:58

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