Heisenberg compensator

From Academic Kids

In the fictional Star Trek universe, the Heisenberg compensators are part of the Transporter system.

As Michael Okuda (technical advisor on Star Trek) said when asked by Time (28 Nov 1994), "How do the Heisenberg compensators work?" "They work just fine, thank you."

In quantum physics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that one cannot know both the position of a subatomic particle and its momentum to arbitrary precision. The more you know about one, the less you can know about the other.

This becomes relevant when one considers that to know where everything is coming from and going to, one pretty much has to know near-exactly where everything is. By Star Trek's 24th century, that is no longer a problem, since the Heisenberg compensators are used to keep everything in the matter stream exactly where it should be.

Note, that this does not mean that the Heisenberg compensators tell you the vital statistics of a particle; they could very well just compensate for not knowing them and keep the system working just fine.

An alternative theory is that such compensators could use the principle of quantum entanglement to entangle particles in a small block of experimental matter with those in the subject. A set of measurements would then allow you to calculate with certainty both the position and vector velocity of the particles in the subject. However, that set of measurements would be valid only for a Planck time, and due to quantum mechanics, you can only calculate out so far with certainty where the particle will be. This contributes to pattern degradation, as the randomness inserted into the system by quantum mechanics will quickly overcome the computer's ability to maintain a reasonable approximation of the internal physics of the matter stream. According to the TNG Technical Manual, the descrepancies between the matter stream and stored pattern will be so great as to prohibit accurate reconstruction of the subject 420 seconds after the Heisenberg compensators have measured the quantum structure of the subject. As cargo transporters operate at molecular resolution as opposed to personnel transporters' quantum resolution, the period of time before the pattern is irrepairably damaged is proportionally higher.

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