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.