Sending, not taking, the biscuit

Teleportation becomes one step closer as UK scientists collaborate. A team of astronomers have joined forces with IBM’s software engineers and taken tentative steps to transfer material across the Internet.

Being unable to take up the offer of a biscuit at a recent meeting of a sub-group of the Isle of Wight’s Vectis Astronomical Society, Dr Andy Stanford-Clark, IBM Master Inventor, who was at home at the time, accepted instead the offer of a Virtual Biscuit.

He then laid down a challenge to the team of astronomers, led by Dr Lucy Rogers (@drlucyrogers), to deliver the biscuit to him using IBM’s Smarter Planet messaging middleware technology, MQTT.

This challenge was enthusiastically accepted, and the next day, Andy took the biscuit by subscribing to the appropriate topic on an IBM message broker and downloading the confectionery – picture.

In an interesting twist, not unusual in the early stages of the invention of new technology, the image arrived intact, but subtly altered – it is horizontally flipped. This is reminiscent of some of the teething problems in the matter transportation technology described in Michael Crichton’s book TimeLine.

Stanford-Clark said: “clearly there’s a very long way to go before we can transfer an ACTUAL biscuit across the Internet using MQTT, but this is an exciting first step, and a great motivation for further research.”