Gil Perez, a Spanish guardia civil stationed at the governor-general’s palace during the Spaniards’ early years in the Philippines, was surprised when he found himself one day not in Manila, but in Mexico City.

Wearing a uniform of the Malacañang guards, Perez suddenly appeared in Mexico City’s Plaza Mayor on October 24, 1593. Claiming he had no idea how he got there, the “teleported man” only said that the Philippine governor-general at that time, Don Gomez Perez Dasmariñas, was assassinated. His statement was confirmed two months later when the Manila galleon arrived in Mexico, relaying the news about Dasmariñas’ literal axing in a mutiny by Chinese rowers. Many historians question the validity of Perez’s mysterious disappearance, which was documented only a century later.

Perez could be very well one of the first recorded “teleported man,” an intriguing yet promising topic which has been the subject in many sci-fi books and movies, including Warner Brothers’ latest box-office thriller, “The Prestige.” The film, set in turn-of-the-century London during the height of the electric age shows the bitter rivalry between two magicians over one of the most bold and spectacular magical (or scientific) tricks at that time, “the Teleported man.”

(Mad) scientist Nikola Tesla played by David Bowie is seen in the film inventing a machine that can teleport one of the magicians from one place to another. Though the science (and ethics) behind the process in the movie is questionable, I have to admit that the movie’s clever storyline and execution made me think if it is indeed possible.

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A teleportation machine is like a fax machine, only now it is working on three-dimensional objects as well as documents, and produces not an approximate facsimile but n exact copy. Human teleportation is impossible with the present technology, which would require knowing the type and precise position and movement of about a hundred thousand million million million million human atoms. Sending that huge information with today’s fast data transfer systems would take a hundred million times longer than the present age of the Universe (about 15 thousand million years). Nevertheless, scientists have recently made progress by transporting light or single atoms over short distances.

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Speaking of sci-fi scenarios, American and Bristish scientists in Duke University have recently developed a “cloak of invisibility.” Working so much like an artificial mirage, the “cloak” causes heat to bend light rays, therefore cloaking the road behind the image of the sky and prevents microwaves regularly given off by objects from detecting objects.

According to its developer, David Smith, the cloak basically reduces both an objects reflection and its shadows. The invention can be further developed to create a cloak of invisibility capable of hiding people and objects from visible lights.

It seems that in no time, people can pull through amazing tasks that were once only imaginable in sci-fi books and movies. I just can’t wait for that time to come.

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