A couple of days a week, while my wife is at work, my 8-month-old son and I check out what's going on over at the SciFi channel. I like to watch this network to get ideas for stories (just as some of you suspected, right?). Max's attention fades in and out depending on the colors appearing on the screen, words he recognizes or whether he's busy doing some repairs on his Radio Flyer Retro Rocket (his favorite toy, of course).
Well, a few days ago we came across a nanobot-themed episode of the newer version of "The Outer Limits" called "The New Breed." I didn't find out until I looked it up online that the episode dates back to 1995.
The episode features your typical scientist -- played by Richard "John Boy Walton" Thomas -- mixing up a few test tubes of nanobots at a university lab. He's on the verge of a cure for cancer, or some other such thing, but of course his spineless employers are so worried about possible "unintended consequences" of injecting these clearly beneficent 'bots that it's unlikely they'll ever let him start human trials.
Of course, a human does start a trial of his own. A colleague diagnosed with cancer, and has nothing to lose, lets the NanoBots bunny-hop all through his bloodstream. The result? Darn things not only cured his cancer, but also his eyesight and made him better, faster, stronger in every way.
Why, those 'bots even made him better in bed!
- Girlfriend: "What's gotten into you? I've never seen you like this before."
In the end, however, the only way out was to kill the human along with the nanobots and, quite disappointingly, the scientist learned his lesson and burned some papers that contained, presumably, the secret nanobot recipe.
I couldn't scrawl down the exact wording, but in the end the narrator says something like, "we must take care not to alter nature or risk being burned by the fires of creation ... "
And that's the end of that. ... Or is it? What about the girlfriend, who was on the receiving end of some pretty crafty creatures ...
Question for the class: Who is more influenced by this kind of fiction? Future anti-nanotech activists? Budding young nanoscientists? Impressionable journalists? Nobody?