Some dream big things, other wake up and do them. ~Old saying
Question #89509 posted on 04/27/2017 4:20 p.m.

Dear The Board,

If you could place two teleporters anywhere in the world, where would you put them and why? You can use them to instantaneously transport people and goods, but once they're in place they can't be moved.

As a follow-up question, do you think it would/should be within the rights of whichever country you place them in to regulate them TSA-style?

-Nellie Bly


Hello Kitty,

Right now I would probably say between my apartment (or nearby) and my parent's house (or nearby). Long-term I would say between my closet and the inside of a bank vault, if I can restrict access to them, of course.



Dear Nellie,

This summer I am doing an internship in Vienna, Austria, so I would put one between Austria and where my boyfriend is working this summer so I can see him frequently as opposed to never.



Dear Sam,

There definitely needs to be one in northern China because that plane ride is a killer; I dread doing it with a babe in tow next time around. I feel like there should also be one near Disneyland or Disney World because, hello, Disney. Also any good beach. Also that means I need to have one near my house because obviously I want them at these locations to make travel easier for me. 



Dear Nellie,

I'd put one in/near Singapore (103 degrees East longitude) and the other in/near Houston (95 degrees West longitude).

Currently, logistics between East Asia/India and the U. S./Atlantic Basin are slow & costly, creating a significant drag on trade and travel. This placement at major deep-water ports located at almost opposite sides of the world, with easy access to the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific basins, might be worth a percent or two of extra global GDP due to economic efficiencies and incremental trade.

Ideally we would have a continuously open, large portal (in the vertical plane and a mile or so in diameter would be great) to allow simultaneous deepwater navigation, pipelines, fiber optic, highways, fly-through air navigation, and so on. Even if the portal was small or not continuous, more like a Star Trek transporter, you could build infrastructure to launch stuff through the portal at speed (think containers on rails) in order to maximize mass traffic through. 

Economic benefits and incentives would be tremendous. Most traffic between the US and anywhere in China, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, etc. would be easier to route through the portal than to send ocean-borne. Europe to any of those destinations would probably also be better than existing trade routes. Similarly, airfare between the hemispheres would often be shortened by a trip through the portal. 

Of course, if you really did have a gigantic continuously open portal, barometric pressure differences would probably mean it had a howling gale running through it most of the time, but that's a small price to pay for economic progress. At least both sides are at sea level. You'd probably also violate conservation of momentum and create weird impacts on the earth's orbit/rotation over long timescales, but whatever.

I wouldn't want the portals to have much regulation, but fortunately I have chosen to place them in safe, modern, relatively laissez-faire jurisdictions where that probably would be as minimal as anywhere. (Initially I was going to put one somewhere in the vicinity of Hong Kong or the Pearl River Delta region, but that would be diplomatically knottier and short-change India.)

~Professor Kirke


Dear Nellie ~

Does it have to be public? Because I have often longed for one between my house and my mom's. How awesome would it be to be able to have instant access to a babysitter, remove four hours of travel to go on our most regular vacations, and the best garden I have ever seen? 

~ Dragon Lady


Dear NB,

I'd put one at the bottom of the ocean (inspiration from XKCD) and the other somewhere just above its surface, then hook up some sort of hydroelectric generator. Using the figures from the comic plus the equations provided here: 720 watts times 400,000 liters per second times 24 hours times 365 days divided by 1,000 for unit conversion comes out to just over 2.5 billion kilowatt-hours of energy produced per year. Which sounded awesome until I looked at the total US energy usage per year: ~13,000 kWh/year times ~320 million people equals a total US energy consumption rate of over 4 trillion kWh per year.

A wardrobe-sized portal isn't going to cut it. Let's make it bigger.

The Panama Canal can fit ships with a width of 161 feet. Since some of the other answers assume the portal would be large enough to fit shipping, I'm going to make that same assumption and adjust the math accordingly. We'll say the portal is a 161-foot square, which translates approximately to a 50-meter square, or 2,500 square meters. Based on math found at Explain XKCD, the original equation appears to assume a wardrobe volume of two square meters. If I'm doing my math right, the increase in size would increase water throughput from 400,000 liters per second to 500,000,000 liters per second. If I run the equation from the first paragraph a second time, that gives us an output of just over 3 trillion kilowatt-hours, enough to provide about three-quarters of the annual US energy consumption, or over 10% of the world's total energy consumption.

Sure, pesky little things like physics and reality might get in the way, but when has that ever stopped me?