One of the reasons I would personally never get in a transporter is that there is no evidence that the Real Me isn't just vaporized and a Copy Me created at the other location. The Copy Me might have all my memories and be indistinguishable from the original, but it isn't the Real Me.

I know that some early characters (especially in ST:Enterprise) had problems with transporters -- but these mostly seemed to concern safety. No one discussed the metaphysics of the technology.

Was there ever proof -- or even discussion -- of the question of whether the transporter really was transporting, or just creating a heck of a good copy?

Note 1: Yes, the transporter tech in ST sends the 'atoms' as well as the 'bits' to reconstruct the atoms, so it's not quite a 23rd century fax machine. But you're still being vaporized.....

Note 2: And yes, I do wake up each morning wondering if I am the same person who went to sleep the previous night, thank you very much. Why do you ask?

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    I have read a book where copies were created, and transporter's operator was responsible for shooting original and dissolving his body in acid... And they never told anyone. StarTrek is at least so much more gentle about this issue :D
    – Mołot
    Jul 16, 2014 at 8:28
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    Not a in universe answer, but all of us are replicants. See: Skeptics.SE: Are all cells of the human body completely replaced every seven to ten years?
    – CyanAngel
    Jul 16, 2014 at 8:47
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    I teleported home one night / With Ron and Sid and Meg / Ron stole Meggie’s heart away / And I got Sidney’s leg Jul 16, 2014 at 9:02
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    @Chris As I understand the question, this is about Trek-Philosophy (like Trek-Physics just more verbose). Those questions get answers. Erickson gave one ;-)
    – Einer
    Jul 16, 2014 at 12:25
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    @Chris They mention that the question has been debated and an answer was given. We just don't learn the arguments that lead to that conclusion. Anyhow, in matters of on-screen-philosophy: Don't underestimate Picard! He can go on for hours after Q already zinnged out the ready-room.
    – Einer
    Jul 16, 2014 at 13:36

2 Answers 2


Yes there is. In STE-Daedalus there is the following dialog with Emory Erickson, the inventor of the transporter:

ARCHER: I have to confess, given a choice, I'd much rather use a good old-fashioned shuttlepod.
EMORY: I'll never forget the protests when the transporter was first approved for bio-matter.
DANICA: Oh, God. Here we go.
EMORY: People said it was unsafe, that it caused brain cancer, psychosis, and even sleep disorders. And then there was all that metaphysical chatter about whether or not the person who arrived after the transport was the same person who left, and not some weird copy.
TUCKER: Which would make all of us copies.
EMORY: I had to fight all of that nonsense, and I'm not going to tell you there weren't costs. I'm living proof of that, but I won. Mankind is better off. Makes everything I've fought for worthwhile.
TUCKER: Here's to a successful experiment.

Obviously Erickson was successful enough to allay the metaphysical fears, since - as we know - most people are comfortable with the transporter.

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    Is this really proof though? I don't know any of these characters but if someone from today said I had to fight all of that nonsense, and I'm not going to tell you there weren't costs, I'd assume they meant they bribed someone (like the media or someone trying to sue them) to make it go away. Jul 16, 2014 at 6:52
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    @MrLore Erickson is a man with a somewhat shady moral compass. I wouldn't be surprised if that's exactly what he meant.
    – Einer
    Jul 16, 2014 at 6:53
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    @MrLore: Yes, but doesn't the following statement I'm the living proof of that make it rather clear that the costs refer to the experiments he decided to run, which left him in a wheelchair? Jul 16, 2014 at 8:12
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    @O.R.Mapper not to mention his son!
    – Einer
    Jul 16, 2014 at 8:14
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    @MrLore: Precisely! “EMORY: I had to fight all of that nonsense” — that’s just what a copy would say. Jul 16, 2014 at 9:03

I think it is unprovable by logic, since the results are equivalent for external examination. Altough in Star Trek universe Einer's answer is pretty good.

Just think about it. By definition being myself, equals existence. If a machine destroys me and reproduce me as I was there a moment ago it might be me might be somebody else. But one thing for sure, that person will feel like I am myself still, and since the memory is replicated as well, that person will be convinced that nothing changed just movement in space. It is the case if I cease to exist and my exact replica starts living instead of me. The impact on society level is low, since the person will live like before know what that person knew. In personal level it might be death.

This fact is ignored, and as Einer said:

Obviously Erickson was successful enough to allay the metaphysical fears, since - as we know - most people are comfortable with the transporter.

Being comfortable with a problem doesn't mean it is solved.

And we may take it to a next step: imagine if you are not transported just replicated, and leave the sample body alone, or create two copies. Would you feel you have two bodies? Not likely.

I would say death and replication goes together.

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    Well, solving the problem might simply be getting the people to accept that the exact same thing effectively happens every single moment, with the transporter or not - you're just a copy of yourself a moment ago. Transporters just add a cool feature in moving you a long range in space as a bonus :) After all, for a society where quantum-physical view of the world becomes a standard, this is a given - "particles" don't have identities, so there's no point in asking "am I still made of the same atoms?". However, in-universe, this would be tricky with all the telepathy, souls and magic.
    – Luaan
    Jul 16, 2014 at 10:35
  • @Luaan Perfectly ok, I would use it if I know I will be myself after that and not get destroyed and rebuilt without transferring the personality, but replicate it. Jul 16, 2014 at 10:45

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