Friday, March 04, 2005

SciFi and the scientist


Howard,
Just so you know, they (the Stargate Atlantis cast) weren’t flailing around at invisible bugs, they were flailing around a bug induced visions. The bugs attacked the optical lobes and caused an aneurism thus the visions as pressure builds. I don’t know if you caught the ending but they killed the bugs with a large EMP. The writing for the ep was typical for nano coming out of Hollywood.

Jonathan Reid
Scientist
Luna Innovations


Now, Jonathan -- a sober scientist like yourself watching science fiction?!

Howard


Are you kidding? I get my best ideas reading and watching Sci-fi and thinking "We could do that!" What's really cool is when I can turn to my wife and say "We're already doing that." ;)

Jonathan


Yes, but strange how in the '50s, SciFi writers thought we'd all be wearing form-fitting body suits. Is Nano-Tex working on that now?

Howard


Well, lets see. NASA is working on silver for killing bacteria that produce odor. The silver fiber is woven in the fiber of form fitting t-shirts for the guys on the space station. The first results look good and they are moving on to blankets and sheets. Not exactly nano but that is most likely the next step for wearability and comfort. We are doing a few things here looking on embedding conductive nanotubes in cloth. I don't know how form fitting the end product will be.

You also have to realize that to the writers of the 50's, form fitting was as close to naked as they could get and not be censored. It looked great on film because you could have a very busty woman scientist that took the attention away from the holes in the plot.

Jonathan


6 comments:

Brian H said...

This brings up the question that has long plagued me: is peelable body paint real clothing? Please respond! With examples and videos, preferably.

Howard Lovy said...

Now, just settle down, Brian. There are other Web sites you can go to for that.

Howard

MrEntropy said...

Doesn't science and science fiction go hand in hand? Or doesn't science fiction lead science a little bit? If you didn't have kids reading Dick Tracy and wishing they had his wrist tv-communicator, what would our cellular phones look like today? Would we have bothered going into space if it weren't for the imaginations of Verne, Clark and the multitude of others planting seeds into the minds of the impressionable youth? Who, possibly, grew up to become scientists and engineers and who knows what else.
It's important, I think, that nano tech gets written about in fiction, regardless of it's portrayed as good or bad (or, more likely, both). If we're told today that molecular manufacturing is impossible for whatever reason, someone who reads stories about how it could change our whole concept of a life might just decide to make sure that is possible.
If nature can do it I see no reason why we shouldn't be able to figure it out.

Jonathan Reid said...

To answer brian h, yes, peelable body paint is real clothing just not very insulating. At least the in the photos I've seen, the models all appear to be a bit chilly. ;)

To respond to mrentropy, I became interested in Sci-fi in 6th grade. Never put a bored student in the back of the class close to the bookshelf. What I read made me want to know more thus beginning my path towards a science degree. I was somewhat dissapointed that a number of the things postulated in early Sci-fi were crap but have been heartened by the amazing number of predictions that have come true. If I could just find a monpole somewhere, a working lightsaber is mine.

mrentropy said...

I had an idea for building a lightsabre. What can pull in light? A black hole, of course. So you stuff a small black hole in the handle.

A friend of mine has since brought up two good points that has stopped me from doing this:
a) You can't turn off a black hole
b) When you create the black hole it'll suck up the Earth, the rest of the solar system and just about all of this section of the galaxy.

Not that this has anything to do with nano technology, but...

Jonathan Reid said...

Actually, a light saber consists of a plasma field contained in a magnetic bottle. Hence the need for the monopole in the handle. All that is left is the need for a good strong power source (mini fusion reactor), microwave source, and a nanofilter for gas separation (Argon would work best).

Ta da, working light saber.