Sunday, September 25, 2011

Where Science Fiction is Born

Our times and world are ripe with topics that boggle the mind and spur imagination. It’s not only the social and cultural customs and mores clashing as the planet effectively shrinks and the population grows. Science looms. Religions react. People wonder.

In August IBM announced the first computer chip made from DNA. Doesn’t a principle of life being used in a computer create all types of images in your mind?

Now, clearly IBM is interested in improving computers: “The company is researching ways in which DNA can arrange itself into patterns on the surface of a chip, and then act as a kind of scaffolding on to which millions of tiny carbon nanotubes and nanoparticles are deposited. That network of nanotubes and nanoparticles could act as the wires and transistors on future computer chips,” (same PC World article by Agam Shah, IDG News ). Still, my imagination springs from the terror of machine images found in Terminator to humans with wondrous mental capacities, and in both cases all the steps from here to there. My reality marvels at the concept of an even smaller more powerful computer.

Every industry, every nation, organization, and individual, is always impacted by their acceptance or rejection of new technology; and these discoveries always give birth to even more imaginative ideas and devices -- and to public paranoia, or sometimes to justified condemnation. We never seem to know the repercussions until they have developed, even when warned by speculative writers. Just remind the government not to close the patent office when they might think everything possible has been invented—humanity’s creativity isn’t done yet. Which, of course, only leads to more speculative fiction, but it is interesting, isn't it? Trip to Mars, anyone?

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