Prey - not as far fetched as you'd think

Imagine living in a world where science fiction is a reality. You could teleport to work everyday, or jump through a wormhole to visit friends on the other side of the galaxy. This may sound like a faraway fantasy, but some experts believe that nothing is impossible. As 2K Games'
new sci-fi horror shooter Prey, is released we talk to some leading experts in the fields of quantum teleportation and alien abduction to get their theories as we investigate whether the sci-fi themes in Prey hold any ground in the realms of reality...

Prey opens with the hero, Tommy, being abducted by vicious, human harvesting aliens, along with his entire town. While such an event has never been documented Budd Hopkins, alien abduction expert confirms that "there are many cases in which multiple people are abducted at one time." One such event allegedly took place on 08 December 1992 in Houston, Texas.

Derrel Sims, the chief abductions investigator for Houston UFO Network (HUFON) set up an abductee's network from the local area to try and "establish communications" with extraterrestrial alien abductors. The results were overwhelming. Almost all of the abductees involved reported being taken on 8th December 1992. They all claimed to be aware of the other abductees aboard the alien craft and described similar experiences involving implants and questioning from their captors. Fortunately, the only thing these Aliens wanted to harvest, was information.

Many sceptics would argue that alien abduction is nothing more than multiple cases of sleep paralysis accompanied by hallucinations. That would not rationalise the Texas incident of 1992, as Hopkins explains. "Sleep paralysis may account for some abduction reports, but very few. It certainly does not explain abductions that occur in broad daylight while a person is wide awake, or one which involves or is witnessed by other people."

Hopkins believes that the scepticism surrounding the phenomenon stems from the fact that it "cannot be reproduced or measured in a laboratory environment." So until we can reproduce elements of alleged alien abductions in a laboratory all we have to go on, regarding the existence of extra-terrestrials and their kidnapping fetish, is anecdotal evidence.

The abduction present in Prey and the teleportation portals located throughout the mother ship would themselves require advanced teleportation technology, the likes of which we will not see in our lifetimes. The theories behind such teleportation are in place, but their practical applications at the moment are very limited. The reality of the matter is, if we ever developed a technology capable of teleporting humans, it would never be as glamorous as the systems you see in Star Trek or Prey.

Talking with Professor Samuel Braunstein of the University of York, a more feasible solution would be a giant souped up fax machine, of sorts. It would replicate every atom in the human body and send an exact replica to another souped up fax machine at another point in the universe. Sounds simple enough, but in reality it is not, as the Professor explained: "Transmitting this information over the best communication channel currently available, it would take the age of a universe to complete the transfer." That's about 100 million centuries.

"Even if communication technology continued to improve at its current rate, which is unlikely, over the next hundred years, it would still take at least a century to deal with the vast amount of information involved."

To give some idea of just how daunting the prospect of teleporting a human is, Professor Braunstein explained that you would fill a 10km cubed area with CD's containing the information for just one human body. That's a lot of CD's, in fact, if you laid them out one in front of the other they would stretch for about 4,300,000,000,000 kilometres. That's roughly half a light year.

The idea of the souped up fax machine throws up some interesting possibilities. Not least the notion that you would be able to teleport your "essence" as it were and replicate it within a non-biological entity, such as a computer. Imagine being able to access all of your thoughts and memories at the touch of a button. A scarier notion would be someone else being able to access them and such advances in technology would require some fairly significant revisions from national security agencies to avoid delicate information falling in to the wrong hands.

Using the fax machine theory, Tommy would have no problems rescuing Jenny from the clutches of evil aliens, as every time he stepped through a teleporter he would be replicating himself elsewhere on the mother-ship, though having said, that so would the aliens. It's probably just as well for him then that the sci-fi technology present in Prey, remains exactly that, sci-fi.

With thanks to Peter Oliver

Prey is available to buy on Xbox 360 and PC from 14 July 2006, and is released by Take 2 Interactive.

Order Prey for Xbox 360 for £37.97 (RRP: £49.99) by clicking here
Order Prey for PC for £21.97 (RRP: £34.99) by clicking here

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