NASA JPL’s matter editation project was viewed skeptically by the suits in Congress. Frankly, they averred, the project’s aim and scope were beyond them. Hacking the substructure of the universe to edit material properties? What could that even mean? Could it even be done? But NASA bundled it under the ever-popular planetary science program, and the pitiful funding continued to roll in.
Until one day they succeeded.
The problem with a system of units is that it is arbitrary. There’s no way to get a reference for it unless you have some other reference, and a reference for that, and so on—way back to some original, obscure reference. To define a meter, you need to define the speed of light, which means you need to define a second, which means you need to start counting the hyperfine transitions in a Caesium 133 atom.
So, when the scientists finally uncovered the quantum substrate, they found lots of handy functions. Move these atoms here, convert them to such-and-such a type, do whatever. But no units. So they took a guess.
At 15:33:48 Earth Standard Time, Pavol Kravnikov pushed a button on his laptop, and machinery clicked and sputtered. At 15:33:49, astronomers in Europe were aghast to find that the sky had changed. Half the stars in the Big Dipper were gone. The Milky Way was still there, but the sky twinkled with unfamiliar lights.
For what had been intended to teleport a 10 cm sphere 1 meter had, due to a mixup in units, in actuality teleported an 82 light-year sphere, 820 light years.