Monday, July 30, 2018

Tomorrow’s Tech … Today!

 Tomorrow’s Tech … Today!

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

          One angle on cloning is the idea of growing perfect spare organs.  If your heart is likely to fail, why not have a new one waiting in a vat somewhere?  The well-known 1997 photo supposedly showing a human ear growing on a mouse actually depicted a construct of mold-injected cow cartilage.

          Sweden’s Karolinska Institute has fitted nine people with new tracheas grown from their own cells on decellularized scaffolds.  (Literal) grow-your-own cartilage, skin, and bone are already being marketed, as at University College London’s Department of Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine.

          In fiction, however, organic spare parts often come from unwilling donors.  As narrated by John Byrne in the 1987 World of Krypton miniseries, Krypton fought its Clone War over body farms and the question of humanity.  Larry Niven’s 1967 story “The Jigsaw Man,” first printed in Dangerous Visions, concerns a society that condemns people to death over things such as traffic violations, in order to harvest organs for the well-to-do.  The concept is still resonant in books, as in Michael Marshall Smith’s 1998 novel Spares.

           Taking the spare-parts idea to its farthest extreme, the computer RPG Xenogears theorizes that humanity was begun to provide spare parts for an immense bioweapon (called Deus, no less).


The concept of weaponized sound has been around since the storied Battle of Jericho. 

          In more recent times, fictional examples include Warhammer 40k, Kate Bush’s 1986 song “Experiment IV,” and Ayn Rand’s Project X in Atlas ShruggedThe Men Who Stare at Goats  depicted Barney’s song as musical torture (accurate, no?); but what could be worse than A Clockwork Orange’s perversion of the music of Ludwig van? 

The use of Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) as a weapon is also a tenet of some New World Order conspiracy theories.
          In 1990, it took a month of blaring rock music for the US Army to spur Panama’s Manuel Noriega to surrender.  BBC news reports alleged a similar employment of western music against Iraqi prisoners during the Second Persian Gulf War in 2003.
          The offensive use of pulsed sound waves is a reality. 

The Long Range Acoustic Device has been invoked for such mundane goals as dispersing birds from airports or wind farms, or for more ad hominem tasks — against political protestors and Somalian pirates.  A plane with an LRAD device was sighted above the 2012 Olympics, but it’s not known if the device was deployed.  Extremely high-power sound waves can disrupt or destroy the eardrums of a target and cause severe pain or disorientation. This is usually sufficient to incapacitate a person. Less powerful sound waves can cause humans to experience nausea or discomfort.  The next time you yell at somebody to turn down their loud music, you can back your request up with science!

See you next Monday!

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© by Mark Alfred