Friday, January 02, 2004

Love in the Time of Crichton

Michael Crichton's "Prey" is in paperback, and apparently available in Thailand. Here's a piece of a review from the Bangkok Post:

    "Authors are expected to exaggerate to make their point and Crichton is no exception. Having characters assume shapes of one another, change sex, appear and disappear, kissing the choice way of passing on infections are a bit much. Not least when bodies turn to dust, then reform.

    "Swarms of micro-processors and laboratory-developed molecules have intelligence and are able to reproduce, melting down micro-chips in human machines. They enter the engineers via kissing at the facility, with the exception of Jack and his assistant Mae."

Makes you wonder whether Rick Smalley's argument against molecular nanotechnology was based on a reading of "Prey":

    "You still do not appear to understand the impact of my short piece in Scientific American. Much like you can't make a boy and a girl fall in love with each other simply by pushing them together, you cannot make precise chemistry occur as desired between two molecular objects with simple mechanical motion along a few degrees of freedom in the assembler-fixed frame of reference. Chemistry, like love, is more subtle than that. You need to guide the reactants down a particular reaction coordinate, and this coordinate treads through a many-dimensional hyperspace."

Speaking of "Prey," I thought I'd make myself known on the Michael Crichton message board and see if anybody in that audience is interested in delving deeper.

And from NanoDot, comes news of a speech by Crichton at CalTech, in which he derides "consensus science." Crichton says:

    Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had. Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics."

Apparently, Mr. Crichton has been following nanotech nonfiction, as well.

No comments: