Saturday, February 04, 2006

Dawno's Brain is Full of SF Today

A fire breaks out and someone is burned. As the victim is loaded into the ambulance the paramedics are sending information about the patient to the burn center. The burn unit begins to prepare. A tech goes over to a keyboard and enters a sequence of commands. A printer starts up. By the time the patient arrives the printer has printed out enough skin for the doctors to use in the grafts this patient will need to replace burned skin.

Science Fiction? Today it is, but according to Brian Derby at the University of Manchester in England clinical trials are about 5 years away for this technology. Derby heads the Ink-Jet Printing of Human Cells Project at the University.

Another intriguing use of the technology could be a 'food printer' If the technology provides organic 'print outs' why not bacon or balogna or cheese? You just keep the cartridges cold in your fridge till you want that hoagie. I really like Technovelgy.com

So what are the things you thought you'd never see in your lifetime? I didn't think I'd see home robots (I have a Roomba and that qualifies). I didn't think I'd see food replicators - looks like those just might arrive before I croak. I think the flying cars and personal jet packs are probably not going to happen. I'd really like to see us give up our dependance on hydrocarbon fuels for transportation. That might happen. Oh, and I really want psychic doors, but I'm thinking that's probably not going to happen.

What's a psychic door, you ask? (Of course you wondered, admit it.) On Star Trek someone heads for the door. If they're really going out, it opens. But if there's going to be a dramatic "turn and make a pointed comment before you leave" moment, the freakin' door KNOWS it and doesn't open.

OK. I know that there are two sweaty guys crouched behind the set pulling a rope and they do it on cue. But since I've suspended my disbelief for an hour my mind is telling me that the dang door is psychic. It knows IN ADVANCE what the person is thinking and doesn't open till they're really ready to leave. (did you know that Coleridge came up with that suspension of disbelief thing? I probably learned that in my Romantic Lit class in college - my favorite professor taught it, too - but I'd long forgotten.)

So, imagine it - you go out the door to your car and when you get to the car you realize your keys are still on the coffee table. The psychic door has not locked, because it knows you're coming back for your keys! Or, it knows you're upset at your son and don't want him coming in to 'borrow' more laundry detergent. It won't let him in!! Burglers can't pick your locks, the door knows what they're up to. Maybe they have a way to call the cops, too. Or a psychic connection with the doors at the police station...hmmm. Possibilities abound.

If all the weirdness of this interests you, you're probably also like me in that you think about ways that the weird plot conflicts or discontinuities might be resolved. That kind of fanwanking is fun as well. I found myself fascinated and sent on quite a web journey as a result of reading that Wikipedia entry. I mean Krypto-revisionism?

Speaking of reading, I'm reading my way thru a Stephen Baxter series Coalescent, Exultant and Transcendent. Good stuff. The Coalescent book is especially thought provoking - humans as hive creatures and how it happened. As he did in Evolution, (a story that I re-read often and disturbs me every time) Baxter creates a compelling story around a scientific conjecture and uses long spans of time to develop the concept. It all seems so freakin' likely!

Baxter appears to be a proponant of the genesis of life thru 'complexifying' - that it is the nature of things in this universe to become more complex and with successful information feedback become intelligent as well. Not that I really *get* it, but I understand it enough to buy the concept as I'm reading. It's another willing suspension of disbelief to allow myself to agree that quantum foam is intelligent and determined the actual way our universe would unfold and evolve. I won't be trying to pass along that particular belief but while I'm reading his books it makes for a fascinating story.

This post is dedicated to Mac, by the way. Thank you for caring.

10 comments:

AstonWest said...

Vladirian liquor out of a computer...my dreams have finally come true.

Mac said...

Hurray! Between this and the Roomba post, I'm feeling much better. The world has tilted back onto it's axis.

*grin* Thanks.

Mark Pettus said...

"fanwank is an attempt to explain or justify (often through convoluted contrivances) plot holes or continuity errors in a work of fiction. The term is used both as a verb and a noun; the practice is sometimes known as fanwankery. It is disparaging, equating the activity with the ineffectual and solitary pleasure of masturbation ("wanking" in British slang)."

If I didn't already know you were a Star Trek fan...

Mark Pettus said...

Speaking of words that can be used both as a verb and a noun, did you know bobbitt is now a verb?

Do not ask me how I know this.

Dawno said...

heh, Mark. Yeah, I saw that in the Wikipedia entry and even though it's a disparaging term (I think 'fanon' is the more polite one) I like it.

I'm very forgiving about Science Fiction for the most part. I'm willing to accept a lot of stuff if the story is engaging and the characters are believeable. I don't go to a lot of mental effort trying to 'fix' problems in continuity, I appreciate each episode of Star Trek as a separate thing. I don't ask that it be part of some mystical canon where all the timelines have to fit. It just strikes my funny bone that there are such serious discussions about all this!

I didn't know that bobbit had been accepted as a verb. I can imagine people using the term that way. I don't expect to see it in my dictionary anytime soon, though.

How *do* you know this? Sorry, I had to ask.

Unique said...

psychic doors?
I'd really rather have psychic pyrotechnics - think of all the lovely diamonds we could make from those piles of carbon.

BTW - I bought you a new jacket. Don't worry about the long sleeves. They tie in the back. :)

Frank Baron said...

Love the psychic door concept Dawno. :)

I have no problem with the willing-suspension-of-belief thing.

There are definite pluses to being born kinda dumb.

emeraldcite said...

I have psycho doors that tend to close on me.

Have you been eaten by the Roomba yet?

I saw one escape a store once. It looked like it was on the lam. They let the thing run in the store for demonstrations and it stopped the edge of the store, backed up, paused for a second, and then charged out into the mall. It made a beeline down the cooridor. Nobody from the store saw it go, but we laughed.

Good for the Roomba. Freedom tastes so sweet, I couldn't possibly tell the store employees that Roomba hit the road. Reminded me too much of the movie Short Circuit.

Maybe the Roomba was alive.

emeraldcite said...

By the way, is your cat named after the Spaceballs character of the same name? Or is this just me drawing connections that aren't really there (one of my favorite past times).

Dawno said...

Frank, 'born kinda dumb'? I think it's a voluntary suppression of intellect in favor of increased endorphin production. Sounds more scientific anyway...

Unique, people have been trying to get me in one of those for years. I keep telling them "I'm a winter for goodness sake, I look terrible in beige. Get me something in a jewel tone, ok?"

Emeraldcite, I love your Roomba story! As for naming the cat, my two other cats were Oatmeal and Pumpkin so when the SO wanted to adopt the 3rd cat we told him to pick a two syllable food name and he picked Yoghurt. He said he'd seen the movie but it wasn't part of the decision.