Monday, March 28, 2011

Beam Me Up, Amani!

or, Thoughts on Teleportation and it's Reliability as a Transportation Source in Tanzania

28 March 2011

So I was contemplating the idea of teleportation tonight with a friend, and commenting on how I need to get my super-smart brother and sister-in-law to get going on this project.  After all, I’m sure that was a part of the aerodynamics and quantum theories of black holes classes they took at Embry Riddle, right?  Basic stuff.  So the thought was that they should build it, maybe sell it to a lot of people, but most importantly provide the machine for free to missionaries.  Or at least to me, and my friends.  After all, I’m the sister!
 As we contemplated the fantastic aspects of this invention, we started to get excited.  We could bop down to the Penninsula (and bypass all the traffic) whenever we wanted to for an evening out.  (Can you tell where we were when this discussion ensued?)  Or better yet (and much more importantly) we could head “home” to the States for a weekend and make it back in time for school the next Monday.

But then, I started thinking.  If all the missionaries are going home every weekend, there’s never going to be any community here.  Which kind of stinks.  AND all the Tanzanians (and other people all over the world) will be wanting to come, too.  Which might cause a bit of a new issue for immigration. 

Then, some of the logistics started to set in.  Do we REALLY want our molecules being taken apart in one place, and trusting them to be put back together again in another?  Would we even be the same person on the other side?  I mentioned I felt more comfortable going TO the States than back to Dar… I trust the State-side teleporter to actually work correctly!  (This coming after three weeks without internet or a server at school… and little to no internet in Dar in general this past week while the fiberoptic cable has something wrong with it… and after our principals’ comment a couple of weeks back at staff meeting, saying “So basically what we’re saying is there’s no power, no internet, and no water.  Have a great day!" …and, yes, we’re still sitting in traffic.)  My friend mentioned the potential problem of having a power cut happen just as you’re in the middle of transport.  And so, we began thinking about the practicalities of having working electronic devices here in Dar. 

The question is, if the teleportation device in Dar breaks, do we call in the local fundi (expert)?  Probably the fundi la bomba (plumber) would come and say, “yes, no problem.  It is ok.  I fix” and then go and get some parts.  Or say, “parts very expensive.  Must get from States.  Many pesas.”  At which point we would mention how we have little money.  They would give us a rubber band and a plastic tube, and say “sawa, it is ok.” 

Thought: I wonder if teleportation could be done through sling-shotting ourselves from Dar to the States via a rubber band?  It would sure cut down the cost!?

The other option is that when we say we have no money, they will say “ok” and get a part made in China.  Then it will break, and we will call again, and they will get another cheap part from China.  And then that one will break, and we’ll get another, and so on, and so on.  And no one will be bothered by these numerous, long, annoying transactions except for us missionaries. :D

The more I think about the frequent power cuts we’re having, I’m realizing we would really need to get a reliable generator specifically for the machine.  This would at least help ensure that no one gets stuck halfway between two places.  I’m imagining writing an email with one hand saying, “Hey mom, did I leave my other hand and foot there?  I’ll try to get them again when the power comes back on!”  Except, oh wait, no power means no email.  Whoops.  Hope they don’t get thrown away by mistake!

The other thing is that I would definitely not rely on anyone keeping the machine maintained during my three day stay at home.  Rather, someone here would probably get jealous of my cool machine and come steal some part or other so that I can’t use it anymore.  And then I would be sad.  And broke, because I’d have to pay for a quick super-sonic ticket back before school starts on Monday!

So anyway, long before we ever made it home from our relaxing time of working at a coffee shop (my first in a VERY VERY long time!) and the 1.5 hr drive home from town afterward (definitely NOT my first recently!), it was pretty much decided that, at least for Tanzania, perhaps the teleportation route is just not quite the way to go. 

But, Jer and Claudia, if you want to get working on prototypes for the future… preferably models that don’t require power or maintenance… I certainly won’t object!


  1. Hehe, Crystal I can't believe you actually posted this!! (At least it was a good refresher for the very little of the conversation that I actually remember. :) But it would solve the problems of having to leave to see the specialist... Do you think we could deduct it from work funds? :)