X-Message-Number: 144

From att!saqqara.cis.ohio-state.edu!compuserve.com!72320.1642 Thu Nov 30 
02:53:01 1989
Received: by saqqara.cis.ohio-state.edu (5.61/4.891102)
	id AA27996; Thu, 30 Nov 89 02:52:55 -0500
Date: 30 Nov 89 02:06:03 EST
From: Steve Bridge <>
To: KEVIN <>
Subject: Space, Star Trek, and Cryonics
Message-Id: <"891130070602 72320.1642 EHI21-3"@CompuServe.COM>

To: KEVIN and the cryonet

     This  past weekend I gave two cryonics slide-talks at a large Star Trek 
Conference  here in Indianapolis.   There were about 500 people at the  con; 
about 200 heard the lectures,  I would guess.  The reaction was pretty good; 
I  even got some friendly applause afterwards.   I think cryonics  has  been 
"legitimized"  in the Trekker world since a program featuring the rescue  of 
three  frozen  humans appeared on "Star Trek:  the Next  Generation."   (The 
episode  was called "The Neutral Zone" and was the final episode of the  1st 
season.   ST:NG  is now in its 3rd season.)  I started off with a video clip 
from the show, pointed out a few misunderstandings the scriptwriter had, and 
then went on into my basic talk.

     Also, nanotechnology has been used on the show this year, in an episode 
called "Evolution," shown the weekend of October 1st.   Young Wesley Crusher 
was doing an advanced homework project in nanotechnology, seeing if he could 
get  two dissimilar  nanomachines (or "nanites,"  as they called them on the 
show) to cooperate in problem solving.   Apparently these two nanites really 
developed a partnership, since, when Wesley fell asleep at his desk with the 
top  left off the nano-box,  the two little dickens jumped into  the  ship's 
computer  system  and  created all sorts  of  plot-motivating  havoc.   They 
proceeded  to  evolve rapidly,  creating umpteen  billion  offspring,  self-
awareness,  and  language before the scriptwriters could wrestle them to the 
metaphorical carpet.   

     Aside from the plot silliness and illogic here, the basic definition of 
nanotechnology  was  given and some slight insight was given to millions  of 
people  that  such an idea exists.   This was probably  the  largest  single 
exposure the idea has ever had.   It won't get people to understand that the 
idea of nanotechnology is real NOW; but it may set many of them up to better 
appreciate the concept when they see it again (as when I used it in my  talk 
or when they saw the Time Magazine "Tiny robots" article two weeks ago).

     It had been a while since I attended a Trek-con.  While there are still 
the  usual crazed fans with no outside life,  I was surprised to notice  how 
many space types ("outer", that is, not "between the ears") were there.  The 
"Second Generation" and the films have perhaps made it more acceptable to be 
seen  at  such  an event.   Besides the guest star appearances  and  fannish 
activities,  science  lectures  during the weekend featured "Whales  at  the 
Indianapolis  Zoo,"  two talks by Butch Head (he was a close friend  of  Gus 
Grissom's  and is a kind of NASA historian) on the Space Shuttle and the new 
Space Station,  Randy Porter on the "Soviet Space Program," and Dan Goins on 
"the Voyager Program."

     Randy Porter,  a friend of Mike Darwin's and mine for years,  suggested 
to me that we need to write an article on the potential for cryonics uses in 
the space program for the NSS newsletter ("Ad Astra?").   My space knowledge 
is  too weak for this;  but I have passed the suggestion on to another  more 
qualified  writer.   Such an article would be especially useful  this  year, 
since  Alcor will have a major presence at the National Space Conference  at 
Anaheim in May (including me, I think).  

     Randy  suggested  that there were several other possibilites  for  this 
besides  the  two  usually used by SF writers and in films over  the  years: 
suspended  animation  for long voyages and frozen embryos for production  of 
colonists on new planets.  He also suggested:

     1.    Frozen   embryos  or  plant  products  for  food  production   in 
colonization or just for meat for the astronauts on those years-long voyages 
to Mars, etc.
     2.   Frozen  body  parts,  including skin,  for transplant  in  medical 
     3.   Actual cryonic rescue of terminally ill or injured astronauts  for 
the trip home.

     If  any  of  you have additional comments or ideas  for  this  article, 
please pass them on to me via the net, or directly to Steve Bridge at:


     Overall,  it  is  clear that the atmosphere for cryonics at SF cons  is 
improving   over  the  years.    Mike  and  I  did  our  first   SF-cryonics 
presentations at NorthAmericon in 1977 (where we first met David  Stodolsky, 
by the way.  Hi, David!).  We were largely met with hostility, indifference, 
or confusion.   Experiences during the past three years,  however, have been 
mostly positive.   Drexler's book has been a prime motivator in that change, 
since  so  many  SF  writers  have referred  to  it;  and  Stanley  Schmidt, 
influential editor of ANALOG magazine, editorialized that one could not be a 
science  fiction  writer today without having read it.   If you go  to  cons 
regularly, ask Alcor or I for material to leave on the freebies tables.  You 
may have to pay for your own photocopying;  but for many of us,  it is worth 
the small cost.  Another great handout is the 4-page Q & A on nanotechnology 
from the Foresight Institute (Drexler's organization).   It was specifically 
written to be reproduced by anyone who wants to.

     Incidentally, Marina Sirtis, who plays Councilor Deanna Troi (the dark-
haired,  exotic-looking woman) on the new Star Trek series,  was one of  the 
guests  at  the  recent  Star Trek Convention.   She  is  nothing  like  her 
character  on the show.   The real Marina is  British,  hyperactive,  wildly 
funny  and  sharp-tongued,  and  even  more beautiful  in  person  than  on 
television.   If she shows up at a convention you are attending,  be sure to 
catch her talk.

     Steve Bridge

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