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Portal – The What If Machine



Just what is a Portal gun and when can I buy one? Will the earth soon be ruled by super advanced GLaDOS-like AI? Cam Robinson investigates these questions and more in this debut episode of The What If Machine.

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36 Comments

  1. If you're worried about a real rogue AI, just always install a master power OFF switch that not only cuts power but also disconnects all output signals so it can't release its neurotoxin.

  2. I think the portelgun could be possible, because Einsteins Theorie isn't hurt in my opinion, because, the portalgun connects to points, like a womhole, so relativity isn't broke in this. And the law of energy, i think it would be a very difficult task, but it could be possible through the quantel.

  3. A few scientific errors with everything you said about the portal gun.

    Easiest one first: it's title is the "Aperture Science Handhold Portal Device". The "Aperture Science Quantum Tunneling Device" is the name for an earlier prototype.

    The energy gain can easily be offset by using power from the ASHPD, which should have plenty of power to spare since it is powered by a micro black hole (and can thus probably make use of zero-point energy).

    Objects moving through portals probably do not immediately come out the other end, there is a speed of light delay. In the final scene of portal 2, Chell fires a portal at the moon and it takes 2-3 seconds for the portal to become visible. Since the moon is about 1.3 light seconds away, that's time for the portal signal to reach it (at the speed of light),  the portal to open and the light to return to us.

    Since stuff only starts falling through the portal once the light has reached us, there must be a speed-of-light communication delay between the two portals. This implies that objects entering one portal should only come out the other after a speed of light delay (which isn't apparent from the reference frame of the object due to relativistic time dilation).

    One unmentioned problem is that of the conservation of momentum. This can be easily solved though by simply having the portals exert the appropriate force against the surfaces they are attached to.

  4. The question seems to be "can you extend a wormhole?" then add in "can a projected wormhole exist?" then "can quantum entanglement effect wormholes via a machine?" and finally "can we get this in a device small enough to carry?"

    Not likely but not impossible until one of these is proven that it can't be done.

  5. How do portals create energy? Isn't your body absorbing the kinetic energy when you enter the portal and then release it in the same orientation relative to your rotation.
    But I think that the real problem here would be friction. Gravity is quite powerful and from my calculations, you would break the speed of sound as you are falling if you have only 80 kg and you would burn from friction with the air(because the human body is not aerodynamic).

  6. The violation of thermodynamics is an interesting point.  Gravitational energy is created by expending energy to put distance between yourself and the Earth.  You can't fall off a ladder without first climbing it.  But with portals, you can create distance from the Earth, and thus gravitational energy, without expending the energy required, fundamentally breaking the laws of physics.  So portals would be impossible if our understanding of physics is even remotely accurate.  Dang 🙁

  7. (I know this is an old video, but still) Wheatley doesn't tell jokes…..he simply causes funny situations, due to him being the IDPC ( Intelligence Dampening Personality Core) instead of a normal AI. I'd say he is even more complex than GLaDOS [Caroline], because she is a result of human brain mapping, rather than a program made from scratch. However this requires the assumption that Wheatley (including the other PC's)  isn't a result of brain mapping (or partial)  aswell.

  8. There seem to be some errors here in why the portal guns won't work. Now the thing about FTL travel is countered by the fact that these portals are actually wormholes, as such you aren't actually traveling faster than light in a physical manner, rather the distance between the two points becomes zero. The end result of this is that you technically do cross a distance faster than light could, but you don't actually travel faster than light.

    With aliens colonizing the universe because of this technology, it is possible that the range of such tech is limited or the situations it may be used in is limited (in portal you can only shoot certain surfaces after all). Furthermore it is equally possible that alien civilizations are so far beyond our own that the methods we use to try and detect them are too primitive to do so. We often scan for radio waves to try and find alien communication, but if they use something more advanced then we would detect nothing. Equally possible is that aliens are purposely avoiding humanity for some reason, perhaps to let us evolve naturally, or perhaps because they view our rather violent nature as a potential threat. Regardless, we cannot cite the fact that we have not discovered alien life as evidence that alien life does not exist.

    Now as for the law of conservation of energy. The reasoning provided is that if you step through a portal and fall on the other side, you have created energy. This is not true, by that same token if you step off the side of a building and begin to fall you have created kinetic energy in the same manner. No energy is actually created, it is simply the potential energy becoming kinetic energy because of gravity. So portals do not break physics in this manner.

    Which is not to say we are anywhere remotely close to this sort of technology, let alone scaling down the tech into a gun form. However theoretical physicists have been playing around with theories on creating wormholes and there is science behind that possibility. Master that to a point where it could be produced by a handheld object, and the portal gun becomes a reality.

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