I thought to myself that precognition would be a pretty cool superpower to have, and so that led me to think about what would be my top choice for a superpower. For years, I’ve always answered that question with “teleportation:”. And so my next thought was that I could write a blog post about my favorite superpower (realize all these thoughts happened in the span of about two seconds, and I was done thinking for the day).
The next day, yesterday, I decided to do a quick search to see if I had ever written about teleportation before, and lo and behold, there it was.
February 25, 2016.
The title of my blog for that day was: If You Could Have One Superpower, What Would It Be?
I read the post, and while I did mention teleportation, that blog post was more about what superpowers Bill and Melinda Gates wish they had. Being goody two shoes, they answered, respectively, for “more energy” and “more time”. I closed that blog post by saying I had reconsidered, and if I had one superpower it would be to make the world a more peaceful place.
Fast forward almost seven years, and I’ve completely forgotten that post and desired superpower, having gone back to teleportation.
So that’s what this blog was going to be about, and even though I’d written about superpowers before, I’m not creative enough to come up with two ideas for a blog post in one day, so I’m sticking to it.
But this post gets right to the issue of superpowers, and I discovered a couple of things.
First, here is a list of the top superpowers that people wish they had, from a 2018 Marist poll. Respondents were only able to choose from these five superpowers, or unsure. Note that there is no nonsense like “more time” or “more energy” or “world peace”…
- 29% – time travel
- 20% – read people’s minds
- 17% – ability to fly
- 15% – ability to teleport
- 12% – invisibility
- 5% do not want any of these superpowers
- 3% were unsure.
There were some demographic differences:
Time travel is the superpower of choice for pluralities of white (30%) and Latino (26%) residents. Of note, 23% of Latinos would like the ability to teleport. Among African Americans, the ability to read people’s minds (30%) tops the list followed by time travel (26%).
Men (36%) are also more likely than women (22%) to select time travel. Among women, nearly one in four (23%) select mind reading. Also of note, reading minds (26%) is the most mentioned superpower among Americans 60 and older. The ability to time travel is number one among those 30 to 44 years old (36%) and 45 to 59 years of age (31%). 30% of residents under 30 would like to be able to teleport.
So I guess I’m not alone in my desire to teleport.
But when I read the results of this poll, I was struck with another thought.
I had always considered teleport and time travel to be the same thing – the ability to go anywhere, anywhen.
So I had to look it up.
There are some people who take this sort of thing quite seriously, even talking about which one is more likely to ever happen, or has happened, at least in the lab.
And there are others, like me, who view them as the same superpower.
Here are a few responses to the question on Quora:
- Teleportation is the transfer of matter and energy from one place to another, without crossing and affecting the physical space in between. Time Travel, on the other hand, is the travel of matter between 2 certain points in time, by moving physically through space and time, kind of warping the physical space to do so.
- Teleporting is moving through spatial dimensions and time travel is moving through the temporal dimension.
- Teleportation is quick travel by disintegrating you into your constituent atoms and reassemble you at the destination. Time travel is travelling to past or future without having to reassemble you.
- To just time travel, you could stay in the same place; you just suddenly appear in a different year, for example. To just teleport, you’d be staying in the same time, but would appear in a different city, for instance.
Like I said, there are some people really into this sort of thing, but I can now see the difference between the two.
And as a result, I’m not sure which one I’d prefer.
But then while still searching on these differences, I came across an article from Nova: Trap Doors in Time and Space: Teleportation, Time Travel, and Escape from Black Holes that seems to suggest that perhaps you could have both, you could teleport to wherever you want, and time travel to any time you want at that place. The proverbial best of both worlds.
So I’ll go with that. My choice of superpower would be the ability to teleport anywhere, at any time. If that’s really two superpowers, then so be it.
By the way, world peace would have come in right behind these two choices.
*image from Nerd Caster