By Ben Coppin
Dr. Ernest Wakeman’s first paper was used to justify the banning of teleportation of humans. It became a divisive political issue, with those on one side saying, “I’ve teleported hundreds of times and I’m OK,” and those on the other calling it legalised murder. Wakeman didn’t publicly express support for either side, but privately he felt that while he would not use teleportation again himself, he didn’t much mind if other people did.
Wakeman had developed a mechanism for fingerprinting a human consciousness. He showed that after teleportation, your consciousness has a new fingerprint. He explained to the court that this is because teleportation involves recording the states of atoms and sub-atoms, destroying them all and then recreating them at the destination. Each time you teleport, you die and are reborn.
His first paper became known as the Chicken Paper because Wakeman used chickens in his early experiments. “Chicken” became a derogatory term for those who sided with the teleportation ban. Some of those on the other side of the argument pushed for the ban to be extended to all living creatures, not just humans.
As a child, Ernest Wakeman had been fascinated by animals, but his parents kept a very clean house in which pets were not permitted. In his teens, he found ways to circumvent this rule, keeping a colony of ants in his desk drawer and attracting a small swarm of bees into an old wooden barrel outside his bedroom window. Everyone assumed he would be a naturalist or a zookeeper, but when it came time to focus his studies at university, he surprised everyone by selecting philosophy and physics.
When asked, Wakeman would always explain that he chose chickens for his experiments because their brains had a number of properties in common with those of humans. In truth, he found their company enjoyable and had a fondness for poached eggs.
Wakeman’s second paper caused a huge outcry when it was first published, but was quickly forgotten. He demonstrated, first for poultry and then with human subjects, that sleep is like teleportation: when we fall asleep, our consciousness is destroyed, and a new one is created just in time to wake up. Like many people, Wakeman had trouble sleeping after that research, and the treatments the doctors prescribed didn’t help.
His final paper was never published. In fact, Wakeman kept his findings to himself. He had conclusively demonstrated that from second to second, from nanosecond to nanosecond, the human consciousness is continually destroyed and a new one created. With each tick of the quantum clock, we die and are born anew. The idea that you will live to see this afternoon is as wrong as the idea that you might live to see the end of the universe. Or rather, you may well see this afternoon, but it won’t be the same version of you that’s looking forward to it now.
After he finished writing this paper, Wakeman destroyed his work and his laboratory, bought a small farm, and took to breeding chickens, which he still does today. He eats more of the eggs than he sells and declines all requests to discuss his academic work. He sleeps a little better nowadays.