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Your pick of future tech

markthom

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 1666

Report this May. 16 2003, 11:19 pm

A visitor from the future has appeared and offers to give us full instructions for any ONE of the following technologies, which would otherwise take us until the year in parentheses to develop. Which should we take? (Last time they did this everyone here chose warp drive, but that’s not on the billing this time -- apparently this visitor is from an earlier era. Oh, and btw, the Temporal Police caught up with the last guy before he could deliver the goods -- rotten luck.)

1) A cure for AIDS, cheap and effective (without help, it will take us till 2040)
2) A cure for SARS, ditto (2055)
3) A cure for atherosclerosis, ditto (2090)
4) A practical way of storing large amounts of hydrogen gas in a small volume, so that it can be used to power fuel-cell cars: as I understand it, this is the last thing we need before we can go into production (2015)
5) A practical way of extracting cheap, usable petroleum from oil shale: note that the US has enough oil in this form to outproduce OPEC, except that we don’t know how to extract it (till 2100, without help)
6) Advanced computer technology that would make processors 1000x faster, and storage devices that have 1000x the capacity and 1000x the data-retrieval speeds, at the same price as current devices (2050)
7) Advanced structural material: 20 times the strength of an equal weight of steel, equal in cost per weight to steel, capable of being worked into girders, auto or airplane chassis, etc. (2080)
8) Advanced material: a metal that can be worked into flexible wire, which is a superconductor at temperatures of up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (=15 degrees C) (2060).

Which should we choose?

Tahara

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 267

Report this May. 17 2003, 12:25 am

9) a way to clean up the polution and ozone, and all the messes that advanced technology has created.

10) Replicators-rid of world hunger, obesity, and alcoholism w/o sacrifing taste or substance.

But of your list I would have to say #4, we need a new and different type of fuel. There are so many possibilties as to the use of Hydrogen, if we can control it.

markthom

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 1666

Report this May. 17 2003, 8:29 am

#4 would do a lot for the pollution -- it would slow down the rate at which pollutants are being added to the atmosphere, so that the natural cleansing would start to deal with what’s there already.

Not sure how replicators would rid the world of obesity or alcoholism -- seems like they would make both problems worse. Though with people having been starving for most of human history, I think it’s rather nice to have to worry about obesity for a change ...

Tahara

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 267

Report this May. 17 2003, 10:08 am

According to various shows in TNG, replicators can create any food with good nutritional values, thus getting rid of malnorishment, no matter the food that is ordered. As for alcohol, the replicators only create synthohol, a non-alcoholic drink. It would be cool to have any of these choices given to us, thoughI wouldn’t doubt that many alien species in the real world have a simular idea as the Prime Directive.

markthom

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 1666

Report this May. 17 2003, 10:42 am

I think that was because of how the replicators on Enterprise were programmed -- Starfleet wanted their crew to stay trim and fit, and sober. I’ve always assumed that in principle they could replicate just about any natural substance, except maybe some of the exotic elements like dilithium or latinum, or something where the structure would be too complex, like a living creature.

charlie_x

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POSTS: 1058

Report this May. 17 2003, 11:21 pm

We alrerady have a cure for aids. Don’t practice unsafe sex and don’t share used needles. It is not easy to get aids. People who contract aids do so by choice. Perhaps you know of someone who has gotten aids some other way?

elevena

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POSTS: 2

Report this May. 18 2003, 1:02 am

Uh there’s this thing called "blood transfusion" ... also in some remote locations needles are in short supply for medical use and get reused out of necessity, which brings us back to poverty... Some people also get raped and don’t exactly get to "choose" to practice safe sex. Think before you type, Charlie.

My choice for future tech would be #4 however, because more people would be affected by cleaner burning fuel than the other options. We may not be able to find a "cure" for diseases, but can curtail them to an extent, and solid fuels will always be too stressful on the environment. I’ll stand in line to buy the first Hydrogen car!

markthom

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POSTS: 1666

Report this May. 18 2003, 12:41 pm

That’s not a cure, it’s a preventative -- and as you say, a highly effective one.

I gather you wouldn’t choose the AIDS cure. So what would you like among the other eight?

charlie_x

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 1058

Report this May. 19 2003, 2:11 am

I was unaware that blood transfusions are spreading aids. I will call the local hospital and let them know. Also I think someone should notify the red cross. What about blood donation centers? Have they heard?

markthom

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 1666

Report this May. 19 2003, 7:20 pm

They all know about the danger. If you donate blood, they will ask you multiple questions about your sexual history, aimed at figuring out whether you’re in a high risk group. I presume that if your answer is "yes" to any of those questions (mine is "no"), they’d turn you down.

Then, after your answers have indicated that your blood is trustworthy, they give you a little form with two peel-and-stick bar codes. One is labeled "YES, use my blood," and the other is labeled "NO, do not use my blood." And they tell you that you should put one of the two stickers onto the form you filled out, and if there is any reason you haven’t mentioned why your blood should not be used, use the NO sticker; otherwise, use the YES. Then they turn their back while you put the sticker on the blood. The sticker will only be identified after the blood is drawn, but before it is used, and the sticker will be checked by someone who never saw the person who donated. The idea, obviously, is to provide someone who realizes after he comes to donate that he’s in a risk group with a way of calling off the donation without having to admit it to anyone’s face.

They also test all the blood they collect for the HIV virus. But their tests are not 100% reliable, especially if the donor became infected within the six months before donating.

So, YES, there is some risk of getting AIDS from a blood transfusion, and they’re taking the risk very seriously. However, the controls that are in place make the risk pretty small. If blood transfusion were the only way AIDS could be communicated, the average infectee would infect far, far less than one other person (maybe 0.01, or maybe even less), and the epidemic would be essentially over. If you don’t engage in the risk behaviors, I think you can afford to spend zero time worrying about contracting AIDS.

Arathos

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 13

Report this May. 20 2003, 3:49 am

I would chose 6 - the advanced computer technology. Today there are a number of problems being investigated and solved by computers - one example of this is a company that is trying to find a cure for smallpox (or some similar disease) using a large computing grid made of a number a smaller computers. The combined processing power is used to create simulations for potential medicines, and the effect these medications will have on the pathogen. SETI is another example.

If we had the increased computing power, we would be able to figure out all or most of the other options very quickly. (Within 10 years or less)

The only problem with this is that the greed that most large corporation heads have would soon stop this technology being readily available to all but the richest of people.

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