To press a button

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Hanna looked at her friend, Rebecca. She had a decision to make. Dare she go through with the months of preparation for this? Dare she risk killing Rebecca in the name of technological progress?

She looked at Rebecca through the glass door; it only showed her face in the cylindrical container, the rest of the glass was already cooled down by Bose Einstein condensation, making them opaque. Rebecca's eyes were adamant, encouraging Hanna to go through with pushing the button. The dozens of researchers in the room were waiting, patiently. Each of them knows how much tension and stress was on Hanna. Each of them wished for the success of the experiment. However, it is the first time it was tried on humans.

Hanna pulled back her hands from the big red button. She sighed; the first kitten which was sent through didn't make it alive to the other end. The internet raged on them for that, and they had to scale back to worms and rats for months to "prefect" the technology, even after they knew that the machine has no problem with life forms which were that small. Decoherence was only harder to prevent for larger life forms.

It took some political gesture, many screening for a suitable human volunteer and Hanna's own theoretical insight on why did the kitten die for the first human trial to be able to proceed.

Hanna’s hypothesis was that it was for small organism, it was sufficient to completely isolate them from all outside influences to prevent their decoherence. The isolation technology was perfected by the teams looking for dark matter and gravitational waves into the cylindrical container. However, larger beings have the ability to decohere their own quantum wave function. It was an unpopular quantum interpretation, but one that they had to take seriously now. The mind, consciousness is the one which causes quantum wave function to collapse. That was the reason smaller organisms which might not have sufficient mind or consciousness or intellect can survive the quantum teleportation, but when it comes to cats and presumably other mammals of larger brain size, with obvious inherent mind of their own, they were never in the coherence state initially.

The kitten had interacted with the entangled mesh which was supposed to teleport it to another chamber just nearby, containing a recently deceased kitten. The procedure was delicate; they had to entangle all the atoms of the deceased kitten to the mesh which will interact with the live kitten. Trillions upon trillions of sensitive, tiny detectors were all employed inside the cylinder to read the results of the interaction, send it over to the receiving end for them to shoot some lasers onto the deceased cat for it to become the cat which were teleported. What they found were dead cats at both ends, with horrible messy body for the kitten from the sending end.

Hanna explained her hypothesis and added, “Why don’t we temporary kill the living being in order to teleport them?”

The whole lab looked at her with the are-you-crazy look.

“The mind would still be in the body, just that we have to shut off all external senses to the mind so that it does not collapse any wave function of the body. To play safe, we should kill the being to be teleported for a while in order to preserve their mind structure when teleporting them, after all, kill and revive was already accepted as a medical treatment for extreme delusional violent suicidal psychosis with revival rate of 99.99%.”

The head of the team, Rick face palmed his forehead. “Why didn’t I think of that? It is theoretically shut down and restart for the mind! Hanna, where did you get this crazy idea from?”

“Agents of Shield, they applied it to one of their main character, May. Old school I know, but I like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they are the classics.”

“Well, now we are going to find your captain Steve Rogers for you, Howard Stark,” Rick said. “Meanwhile, Hanna, you develop a safe way to incorporate the kill and revive procedure into our teleporter.”

After a few weeks, they had chosen Rebecca, aged 39. She was a stage 3 cancer patient who had been through all the standard and alternative treatments to no avail. Rebecca then had accepted the impending end of her life. When Hanna first saw Rebecca, she felt an immediate kinship. Hanna was only 34, they were both single and share the same religion. So while Hanna was developing the method of using Bose Einstein Condensate to freeze, kill, and act as the mesh to interact with the living being to be teleported, she had talked to Rebecca every day, it was as if they were long lost sisters.

Hanna only realized how unwise it was when Rick asked her to be the one pushing the button on the day they had found a suitable recently deceased body. It was so sudden that Hanna had been mentally unprepared. Hanna’s mind came back to the present. Rebecca’s body was mostly frozen already, seeing the hesitation in Hanna, Rebecca spoke into the microphone.

“I know what you are thinking, will I survive this? There are only two possibilities: yes or no,” Rebecca paused, “I am at peace with both, to have spend my last few days with you was good enough. If I die, at least this is a quick death compared to the slow death of cancer. If I live, then I will have a healthy body at the other end.”

“I don’t want to kill you,” Hanna said, tears in her eyes.

“Hey, if you delay any more and my new body decays, that’s on you,” Rebecca quipped. “Do me a favour will you? Be at peace with both possibilities.”

Hanna bit her lips and put her hand on the button, and thought to herself. There are only two possibilities: yes or no. I am at peace with both. She pressed.

About the Author: 
Ng Xin Zhao has a degree in Physics from NUS and now writing science fiction.