Monday, February 19, 2018

Tomorrow’s Tech … Today!

Tomorrow’s Tech … Today!

Many futuristic inventions have come to pass, while some may never be realized.


            One of the more hopeful projections of SF’s future societies is the idea that medicine and healing will be dramatically sped up.  On this front, Star Trek may lead the pack with its diagnostic tables, tricorders, and the good ol’ anabolic protoplaser. Richard Shaver’s Teros and Deros wielded both healthy (“ben”) and harmful (“stim”) rays.  Did you know that Wonder Woman’s healing “purple ray” was actually based on an Edgar Cayce gadget?

            In 1979’s Alien, Kane is hustled to the “infirmary” after the facehugger has latched onto him.  He lies on a diagnostic bed which analyzes him.  Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of the movie actually calls this tech “the autodoc.” 

In a deleted scene from towards the film’s end, Ripley discovers Captain Dallas cocooned to a wall by the xenomorph.  When Dallas begs for death, Ripley offers to place him in the Notromo’s autodoc, but it’s too late; incineration is the only way to keep the alien’s spawn from hatching through Dallas.

            Here on Earth, Wilhelm Reich’s belief in the healing power of concentrated cosmic energy — “orgone therapy” — led to his imprisonment by the US government, where he died in 1957.  But times change!  In 2014, NASA signed two patent agreements with Texas-based GRoK Technologies. 

One would cover the growth of 3-D human tissue for drug testing; the other involved a device to treat pain without drugs.  The hope was to employ such devices on the International Space Station.

            Regarding diagnostic beds, the limits of modern medicine still require sensors to be attached to the patient, darn it.  But on a more optimistic note, Xprize is currently offering $10 million for a working medical tricorder design!


If you can’t travel through time, perhaps you can watch history “live”!  The idea of a “television through time” has been a fruitful concept, beginning with an 1883 story, “L'historioscope,” by Eugène Mouton.  In comic books, it may be a uncomplicated as a super-fast trip into space to overtake light-waves from the past, or a “time telescope,” such as used by Superboy in a 1960 tale to show the teenaged Bruce Wayne their costumed-hero future friendship.

          Asimov’s 1956 story “The Dead Past” asks where time viewing might end, pointing out that being able to view the past might include a secret meeting held an hour ago, or private lives one second ago!  The 2000 Stephen Baxter/Arthur Clarke novel The Light of Other Days likewise opines that past-viewing would lead to society’s ruination by the elimination of privacy.  Meanwhile, on the viddy, Dr Who and Star Trek have featured time viewers in individual episodes.

          The explanation behind most fictional chronoscopes involves the harnessing of light rays emitted by past events. Strictly speaking, astronomers are viewing the past when they examine the heavens!  But so far the only theorized real-world possibility involves moving a wormhole’s exit from its gravitational field, to affect time and stretch it out for watching.  But good luck leaving the neighborhood after the show is over!

All right, gang, it's "time" to go.  Be "well"!  And come back next Monday for the next installment in a new series ... called WATCHMENUTIA ... about that favorite deconstructionist comic-book maxi-series, you-know-what.
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