biology, General opinion, genetic modification, History of science, medicine, Organ transplantation, Science, science fiction, SF and science

Franken fears, Franken futures (part 2)

Moving from AI back to biology, how close are we to creating life out of replacement parts? Or nothing at all? Well, we could probably clone a human being any day. This really isn’t the big deal it sounds like: there have been human clones as long as there have been humans: they’re called identical twins. In terms of the ethics, I imagine the worst is that you’d just get some unhealthily grieving people trying to clone their dead Dad, which isn’t a good idea. Clone armies to wage your wars? Well, no, it’s not going to get any faster to grow a human being and raise it to adulthood, and, for the moment, we don’t have those artificial wombs (nor are we likely to, taking an embryo from the moment of conception). You’d probably go for those AI drones instead.

Making a different form of human is another thing entirely. Continue reading

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General opinion, NHS, personal, political, Uncategorized

For the junior doctor who might have saved my life

When I started this blog, my main aim was to talk about science and science fiction and the overlap of both. I also have some pieces on the backburner about working life as a scientist, but that’s where they’re staying for the moment. A couple of areas I decided to stay well clear of are the personal and the political: the former because, well, that’s what friends and family (or at most Facebook) are for, and I’m too much of an English stereotype to be getting all that confessional; the latter, because I would rant, and rant, and rant…

I am now about to break that resolution, for a special case. This is in response to the ongoing dispute over “Junior” doctors’ contracts in the NHS in England. I do promise not to rant too much, however. Continue reading

General opinion, science fiction

Getting the science in science fiction “right”…or wrong.

Mega-Shark-vs-Giant-Octopus
Regrettably, the solution to your Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus problem is unlikely to involve a green glowing liquid.

 

How “right” should the science in science fiction be?

This is one of those questions that tends to rise to the surface every so often, and then sinks beneath the waves again, after a lot of turbulent discussion. I’ve certainly been guilty of it myself, but, hey, we all like a good argument every now and then, right?

Continue reading

General opinion, Science and society, science fiction, Society, Uncategorized

Never mind a hovercar, I want a robot butler and a three day working week

honda-new-asimo-3Photo credit: Honda. I want me one of these, but better.

One of things that is always dragged up when people start discussing whether the science fiction of the past predicted the present at all accurately, is the old “Where’s my hovercar?” trope. Maybe it’s just that I don’t even like regular wheeled cars, but of all the many things I wanted in this so-called ‘Future’, a hovercar was pretty far down the list. A replicator would be a damn sight more useful. A robot butler even more so. I did like this golden vision a lot of 50s and 60s scifi presented though, where the future was bright and nobody had to work, or only at really interesting things they really wanted to do (never mind that they were often so hampered by their own prejudices that they utterly failed to advance gender equality, for example, but that’s another story). But, really, why are we still all working like dogs? And where are the futuristic, practical everyday inventions that would make life easier? Continue reading