Teleportation is the movement of objects from one place to another, more or less instantaneously, either by paranormal means or through technological artifice. The concept has been widely used in science fiction.
Similar is apport, an earlier word used to describe what today might be called teleportation; and bilocation, when something or someone described as being a magician is said to be able to occupy two places simultaneously. The word "teletransportation" (which simply expands Charles Fort's abbreviated term) was first employed by Derek Parfit as part of a thought exercise on identity.
One proposed means of teleportation is the transmission of data which is used to precisely reconstruct an object or organism at its destination. However, it would be impossible to travel from one point to another instantaneously; faster than light travel, as of today, is believed to be impossible. The use of this form of teleportation as a means of transport for humans still has considerable unresolved technical issues, such as recording the human body with sufficient accuracy to allow reproduction elsewhere, and whether destroying a human in one place and recreating a copy elsewhere would provide a sufficient experience of continuity of existence. Believers in the supernatural might wonder if the soul is recopied or destroyed, and might even consider it murder. Likewise, someone with a materialistic view of the world might also see the disintegration of a given corpus as the killing of a human being. The reassembled human might be considered a different sentience with the same memories as the original, as could be easily proved by constructing not just one, but several copies of the original and interrogating each as to the perceived uniqueness of each. Each copy constructed using merely descriptive data, but not matter, transmitted from the origin and new matter already at the destination point would consider itself to be the true continuation of the original and yet this could not logically be true; moreover, because each copy constructed via this data-only method would be made of new matter that already existed at the destination, there would be no way, even in principle, of distinguishing the original from the copies. Many of the relevant questions are shared with the concept of mind transfer. It is interesting to note, however, that quantum mechanics forbids one from making a wholly exact copy of an object: see no-cloning theorem and Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
It is not clear if duplication of a human would require reproduction of the exact quantum state, which necessarily destroys the original, or whether macroscopic measurements would suffice. In the non-destructive version, hypothetically a new copy of the individual is created with each teleportation, with only the copy subjectively experiencing the teleportation. Technology of this type would have many other applications, such as virtual medicine (manipulating the stored data to create a copy better, or perhaps radically different, than the original), a sort of suspended animation (by creating a copy many years after the information was stored), or backup copies (creating a copy from recently stored information if the original was involved in a mishap.)
Dimensional teleportation is a mechanism often shown in fictional works, particularly in fantasy and comic books. It involves the subject exiting one physical universe or plane of existence, then re-entering it at a different location. This method is rarely seriously considered by the scientific community, as the currently predominant theories about parallel universes assume that physical travel is not possible between them.
Another form of teleportation common in science fiction (and seen in The Culture novels and The Terminator series of films) sends the subject through a wormhole or similar phenomenon, allowing transit faster than light while avoiding the problems posed by the uncertainty principle and potential signal interference. In both of the examples above, this form of teleportation is known as "Displacement" or "Topological shortcut" (Scientific American) which implies that this kind of teleportation may be similar in mechanism to time travel.
Displacement teleporters would eliminate many probable objections to teleportation on religious or philosophical grounds, as they preserve the original subject intact — and thus continuity of existence. What does this mean? Teleportation by means of the mind or innate personal abilities are sometimes referred to as p-Teleportation, "psychoportation", or "jaunting"; named after the fictional scientist (Jaunte) who discovered it in The Stars My Destination (originally titled Tiger! Tiger!), a science fiction novel by Alfred Bester. This method could hypothetically work through any of the mechanisms proposed above, but are usually portrayed in fiction as displacement-type or dimensional teleportation to simplify its use in the story.
The most famous example of teleportation in the history of paranormal phenomena is the Filipino guardia civil during the Spanish era, who suddenly disappeared from his post in the governor general’s palace and appeared in Mexico City half way around the world. The bewildered soldier could not explain how he got there.
When asked by Mexican authorities, he told them he was a guard at the Philippine governor general’s palace and said the governor was assassinated. He was brought before church authorities who concluded he must be possessed by the devil and promptly put him in jail.
Some weeks later, a galleon ship from the Philippines arrived with a Philippine official who identified the guardia civil and confirmed everything he said. The Filipino was released and sent home on a ship.