The idea behind ‘beaming’ someone up was that a person could be broken down into an energy form, referred to as dematerialisation, and then converted back into matter at their destination, also referred to as rematerialisation. Transporting people onto the USS Enterprise has been around since the very beginning of the Star Trek series, with the transporter featuring in the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, The Cage.
Scientists can currently teleport balls of energy known as photons. It is not the same mechanism used in Star Trek; teleportation in this case is based on a quantum mechanics phenomenon known as ‘quantum entanglement’. Scientists can create two photons with unknown states, also known as being entangled, which can be shot off in different directions. Once one photon has its state revealed, the other one simultaneously switches into the opposite state, regardless of distance. This information given to the other photon in order to change state happens at least 10,000 times faster than the speed of light.
The transporter is an iconic feature of the original Star Trek series