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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Nanotechnology For Dummies (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Nanotechnology For Dummies
Robert Nowall
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I was blocking out a story / scene in my head, and got to a point where it involves nanotechnology (more specifically, medical applications of nanotechnology, though that's neither here nor there. I'm probably going to be vague about it all, anyway.)

But I got to thinking---always an idea killer---and I developed a conundrum worthy of posting here.

How would you describe nanotechnology to someone who's somewhere in the past? (Right now my story is set somewhere between 1945 and 1950, but I'm not firmly bound to that---I'm not firmly bound to anything 'cause I haven't written anything down yet at all.)

Saying "tiny little robots" just doesn't cut it for me. I could say "robots the size of germs," but would that really be accurate?

I've in mind that the description is being given to someone who's (a) at least high-school educated of that period, but (b) definitely not a science fiction fan.

Any thoughts?


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Jammrock
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Arthur C. Clarke's third "law" of prediction:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."


Nanotech would be virtually incomprehensible for anyone but the most advanced thinkers and dreamers in the WW2/post era. Explaining it to the layman would be virtually impossible, imo. Remember that a computer back then filled a high school gym and was made of huge tube transistors. Robots were still science fiction and few, if anyone, dreamed that they could be small enough to fit inside the human body.

You're best bet is to not explain it. If a character time travels and uses nanotech to heal someone, have him hide it and lie to the any characters of that era. First off, any responsible time traveler wouldn't say a word about it (messing with the timeline and whatnot) and even if he did people would think he was crazy.

Shoot up the wounded with "morphine" to ease the pain, but nanites could be in the syringe to enter the body and heal it. Then have the character wrap up the wounds and "hope for the best." Just play around with ideas like that to hide the tech using standard techniques of the day.

Just my $0.02.

Jammrock


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Novice
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Readers were able to accept Fantastic Voyage in 1966. By the 1940's they had electron microscopes and in 1953 Watson and Crick described DNA, though much was known about the way DNA worked even before the structure was described. A lot was known about viruses by the 1930's, including size and chemical makeup, even some guesses as to structure. Vaccines were a well-established industry. I think the science of "small things" was past the point of calling it magic. The world of computers was murkier, I'm sure. (I don't know much about the history of computers.) So "robots the size of germs" would be understandable as far as the "germs" part.

I suppose "It's magic" would have to be some part of the explanation, as is true even today. We can imagine a world in which medical nanotechnology works, but we aren't there, yet. I think your historical characters could handle the same concepts. All this mini-rant means I'm voting for "robots the size of germs".


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pantros
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Nanotech is still magic to most people, why would it be any different in the past?

Without, say, a remote controled car(or something similar) to demonstrate and then a smaller one and then holding his thumb and forefinger together and saying, now imagine a hundred of them this small....

Or the nanotech could just be a limited supply of good spirits.

[This message has been edited by pantros (edited August 10, 2006).]


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Sara Genge
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How do you explain nano-technology to me? I still haven't "gotten" it, and I use it in stories all the time. I still haven't "gotten" relativity either, so if someone thinks they can try...
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pantros
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Relativity for dummies.

Driving on the highway, travelling at 75 MPH a car passes you doing 76. They take forever to pass you because they are going one mile per hour relative to your speed.

A car passes you doing 95 and you think they are insane.

A guy standing on the side of the road, looks pretty much the same from 400 yards away as from three hundred yards away, but as you get closer, he becomes more of a blur as you whoosh by.

That's relativity. Now expand those speeds to celestial speeds.

Nanotech - Remember how TV's used to be big heavy pieces of furniture made of glass and metal with wood colored shelf paper panelling? Now they are thin and plastic. Well, they did the same thing with robots (real robots, not the things that look like people. Think of the robots they build your car with. (automated machines that react to a precise set of stimuli) They made them smaller and from new materials. So small that they can fit inside a blood vessel. - Okay so we are really into microtechnology at this point, but nanotech isn't far off. Theoretically a nanobot could travel into a human blood cell. Current technology still travels only through the major blood vessels and is still often connected by the control wire.


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MaryRobinette
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You might be interested in this interview of Gordon Van Gelder where he talks, briefly about nano-technology. (It's the penultimate question.)
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Jammrock
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Nanotech extends far beyond microscopic robots. Nanotech will allow companies like Intel and AMD to produce CPUs that have traces (basically a wire connecting two components on a CPU) that are the width of a few atoms. In medicine it could, in theory, be used to hunt down things like the AIDS virus and destroy it. In construction it could be used to make pure alloys with no unwanted impurities and "seamless" designs (meaning you would no longer have to rivet sheets of metal to a plane or the like).

The list is quite endless, but the technology is so advanced that very little on the nano scale has been successfully done. Every G8 nation is dumping billions into nantech as it has enough promise to revolutionize the world as much as the car, airplane, and microprocessor have, if not more.


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Robert Nowall
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Perhaps I should have added that in real life, I am unconvinced that anything will come of nanotechnology. But I could be wrong. And I am free to shovel with both hands while writing about it.
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pantros
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What I expect from nanotech in the next 25 years:

Carbon fiber contruction.
Smaller, cooler, faster microprocessors (nanoprocessors?)
Microscopic remote controlled medical devices inside human blood vessals.

What I don't expect:
Nanites: Microcscopic robots with a built in computer capable of artifical intelligence.
Robots of any kind freely roaming inside the cells of the human body.
Polymorphic robots.
Robotic Viruses.


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sholar
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There is some really cool research on cancer therapy with nanotech. An antibody is attached to a "ball". The antibody targets the nanoball to a cancer cell, where it is brought into the cell. Then you send a specific light wavelength at it, which reacts with the ball, and heats up the cell, killing it. Targeted destruction. I think it has been tested in mice but I am too lazy to look it up (or walk to the other side of the building and ask the lab- though that isn't laziness- they are the evil bioe people and a biochem person could never willingly talk to a bioe person. Though bioe are preferable to eeb )

[This message has been edited by sholar (edited August 11, 2006).]


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Jammrock
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quote:
What I don't expect:
Nanites: Microcscopic robots with a built in computer capable of artifical intelligence.


The theory behind nanites isn't that a single nanite is capable of of artifical intelligence, but as a computer cluster or hive mind the whole would be capable of it. Though I agree I wouldn't expect it any time soon.

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Aust Alien
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quote:
Relativity for dummies.

Driving on the highway, travelling at 75 MPH a car passes you doing 76. They take forever to pass you because they are going one mile per hour relative to your speed.

A car passes you doing 95 and you think they are insane.

A guy standing on the side of the road, looks pretty much the same from 400 yards away as from three hundred yards away, but as you get closer, he becomes more of a blur as you whoosh by.

That's relativity. Now expand those speeds to celestial speeds.



That's not relativity. That's just relative speeds. Relativity is the fact that at near light speeds (relative to an observer) it changes. The vehicle passing you at 99.76% of C (light speed) while you are doing 99.75% of C will appear to the observer to be passing at only 0.01% of C, but to the guys in both vehicles, the difference in speed will appear to be 14 times that. Why? Because time slows down. 1 second experienced by the occupants of the near-light vehicle is about 14secs of "real" time.
Accordingly, there is no "real" time. But since the stars and planets move in a similar spead (ie none of them are doing more than 1%C relative to each other) we tend to think of that as "real" time.
You need to get to really close to light speed to notice the effect. For a craft travelling at At 99.99% C a second on the craft is still only 70 odd seconds. At 99.9999% it's just shy of 12 minutes of the time of the source and destination planets. This means, a journey of 40 light years would take 40 years in the time of the planets, but the craft in between would feel only 20 days. (Plus of course the time accelerating to and decelerating from .999999 of C.
The same effects happen at slow speeds but the effects are not noticeable. However, clocks in GPS satellites have to be adjusted slightly (micro-seconds) because they've built up just the slightest dilation.
Of cource this has nothing much to do with Nanotech.

[This message has been edited by Aust Alien (edited August 12, 2006).]


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Dead_Poet
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hmm, sorta stole my thunder there. i was gonna correct the reletivity thing too, until i got to the last post. the speed of light is not relative (does not change with speed) if you are traveling away from light at 1/2 C, it would still seem to be traveling at the full speed of light, not at half speed. the way this happens is because time slows down (for you) if i remember my high school physics class correctly.
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dreadlord
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hmm... I thought you just gained more mass, therefore taking more energy to move, but we are getting of-topic here. the thing is, once we have nanotec, then I will talk about it. now, dont go and say we really do. I dont want that kind of a world, where I could be breathing in nanobots placed by terrorists.
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Aust Alien
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How do you know you're not already....?


Muwhahahaha!!!!


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Dead_Poet
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Shhh!!!! don't tell them about my nanobots!!!!
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Pyre Dynasty
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Perhaps we are all nanobots carrying out the orders of giants. (that is what relativity means to me.)

A simple explanation: germs that take orders.

Oh and do those modified microbes that eat oil count as nanobots?


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Survivor
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Getting back to the question, why are you describing nanotechnology to someone in the past? And what type of nanotechnology are you describing?
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Robert Nowall
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Oh, just a story (maybe a novel) I'm working on, about an alien intrusion in late 1940s America. They've got 'em, and use 'em on (so far) one character...I haven't yet gotten to the chapter where nanotechnology is explained.

Besides, aliens wouldn't use a pseudo-Greek coinage like "nanotechnology" to describe them...besides that, I'm sure when it finally comes to market, it'll have a different name as well...


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Survivor
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You'll note that you didn't answer either of my questions.
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Sara Genge
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Why can't you have nanobots inside the body? implant them somewhere with no immune response: testicle, cornea, and tell them to produce insulin in response to the glucose levels in the blood. Voila, goodbye diabetes
Obviously, my problem isn't with the things nano can do, it's with how exactly it does it.

[This message has been edited by Sara Genge (edited August 13, 2006).]


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Robert Nowall
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I don't want to lay out too much of my plot...or at least until I've gotten more on the screen. Right now it's coming along at about a thousand words a day...and considering that I'd been doing next to no substantial amount of writing since, oh, January at least, I really don't want to interrupt the flow. Just looking for advice on technical issues (you may have seen my "three queries" post).

[edited 'cause I clicked before my last sentence was completed.]

[This message has been edited by Robert Nowall (edited August 14, 2006).]


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Survivor
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Well, when you know why and what is being explained, let us know.
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rstegman
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"We manufactured machinery to be smaller than dust. Some of them are designed to repair the body. We injected those into your body to cure what you have."

Someone in the 1940s would understand machinery. they would also know about disease.
The concept of autotoms, or robots, were already known, if not by the general public, at least by a large portion of the "in the know" public. The 1939 World's Fair had a lot of autonomous machinery. Cars that drove themselves, robot exibits, all sorts of things so the people would have a basic understanding of robots.

when I read you were trying to discribe it to someone in the past, I pictured someone in the 1800s or before. That would be a bit more difficult. That is why I said smaller than dust in my discription. For the 1940s, one could use microbes or bacteria.


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Robert Nowall
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Well, it's still a general question. Say (1) you have time travelers who have (2) nanotechnology, and they (3)turn up in a time where they (4) have to use it, and (5) have to explain (5a) what it is and (5b) how it works.

I'm not fond of laying out too much of what I'm working on---it's like once I've written it down in any detail, it's done for me. Short outlines and notes are about all I can manage. Too much detail, and it's already done and I never get around to it. (My energy for working on it right now is high---I'm having my best writing period since I gave up Internet Fan Fiction...)

That being said, I like "rstegman"'s explanation.

And robots came in with Karl Capek's "R. U. R." (short for "Rossem's Universal Robots," robota being the Czech word for worker. The play was 1920, I believe...but when did the word become widely circulated? Certainly it was in play when the science fiction scene started going (Amazing Stories started publishing in 1926)...but when did it catch on with the general population? And when did it become "mechanical man," or "metal man?"


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Corin224
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I'm gonna take one more shot at "relativity for the layman". Since the explanations so far, while technically correct, can be a bit tough for the average non-science geek to follow.

You're driving a car at 50 miles per hour. As you pass a man standing on the side of the road, he throws a baseball in the same direction you're traveling at 100 miles per hour.

To you, it looks like the ball is going 50 miles per hour. To the man, it looks like it's going 100. Pretty simple, right?

So, here's the trick. You pass by the man going at 75% of the speed of light, right when he flashes a light. To him, it obviously looks like that pulse is going away from him at the speed of light. How fast does that pulse look like it's going to you?

25% the speed of light? Nope.

That's the obvious answer, but it's wrong. That same pulse looks to you like it's going away from you at exactly the speed of light.

There you go. THAT is where all that wierdness about time slowing down comes in. The fact is, no matter WHAT frame of reference you're in, the speed of light is constant. It sounds ugly until you decide to agree that time isn't constant, and suddenly the math starts to work out. It's creepy, honestly. Once you figure that out, start asking yourself how gravity works and prepare to have your mind boggled.

Freaky, huh?

As far as nanotech . . . still magic, even in this day and age. I'd go with the deliberately confusing explanation that makes the eyes of the character being spoken to glaze over. That's always fun to write.

-Falken224 (posing as Corin)


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Robert Nowall
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I'm a little underwhelmed by the idea of simply explaining advanced technology or culture or whatever to someone "primitive" as "magic." I remember reading an SF novel (The Flying Sorcerers, Niven and Gerrold, a pretty good read), where one [advanced] character used a translator (for a while) to talk to other [primitive] characters. He'd say something that'd be translated as, "That's not magic," and then say, "It's...magic!" Predictably, the other characters got mad about it.

Primitive people (human, alien, or whatever) might not have as many facts as the advanced...but there's no reason for the writer to assume they're stupid because they're primitive...


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Aust Alien
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I think you make a good point. I guess the starting point is : How would you describe this technology to someone TODAY? What in this would need to be modified to explain it to someone in the forties?
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Dead_Poet
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how would a man from the future describe nanotechnology...

Millenium man: They are little tiny, microscopic (Great redundancy there) robots that flow through your blood to help fix your body.

40's man: Say what?

MM: Little robots that heal you.

FM: What the devil is a robot?

MM: They're machines.

FM: Like a tractor?

MM: Sort of...

FM: Who's drivin it?

MM: It drives itself.

FM: Boy are you one crazy son of a gun. Are you kidding me? 'Cause this ain't funny.

MM: No, I'm serious.

FM: So you're tellin me that there's a bunch of miniature tractors in my body, fixin stuff with no one tellin them what to do? How do you know they won't kill me? Why didn't you just shoot me instead?

MM: They are programmed to know what to fix and what to leave alone. You're fine.

FM: Well, how much gas they got?

MM: They don't have any gas.

FM: No gas? How do they drive?

MM: They use your body's electric current to power themselves.

FM: . . . Well that's a nice story. Why don't you write it down. I hear magazines will buy stuff like that.

At this point, the SM is truly convinced that MM is crazy.

[This message has been edited by Dead_Poet (edited August 21, 2006).]


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Aust Alien
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Not really. Depends who it was. I'd suggest reading some 40's sci-fi. Yes they got the details wrong often, but they weren't without intelligence or imagination.
Remeber, this was the era when the atomic energy was first utilised (albeit for destructive purposes). They could see beyond the end of their noses .

In your scenario:

Scientist: It fision
Averege Joe: What?
S: Splitting an atom.
A: How do you get a hammer that small?
S: you don't, you shoot subatomic pariticles at it.
A: Guns aren't that small.
S: No you use an accellerator - like a cathode ray tube in your tv.
A: Yeah right, you use a tv tube to shoot an atom and make more energy than burning a truck full of coal. Crazy.

Therefore, by the arguement above 40's people didn't understand nuclear energy.
There'd be plenty who'd be ignorant enough back then to follow this line of thought, but then there are plenty today who would think you were pulling their leg.

PS Robots were first suggested in the 30s.

[This message has been edited by Aust Alien (edited August 21, 2006).]


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Jammrock
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A lot of this depends on who the futuristic person is talking to. If the average joe is a shoe salesman with a high school diploma that doesn't have a clue about technology, his whole concept about future science would be derived from the movies where robots were giant, unintelligent, typically evil things. Even if he read scifi, it depends on what scifi he read to determine whether he would have a clue about nanobots.

You have to remember, the average Joe and Jane did not go to college in the 40's. The US was still in it's industrialization period where only the upper-middle class and up really went to college. There was no such thing as student loans back then and well paying jobs didn't require a 4-year degree, so the level of education isn't near what it is now with 4-year degrees being common, masters degrees becoming common, and the information superhighway well entrenched in society.

So unless the MC is dealing with someone with a good education and/or a well read SciFi background the chances of someone in the 40's truly understanding on any level what nanotech is is slim to none. Not to mention you are dealing with the beginnings of the Cold War/Red Scare era. So most westerners would wonder "where" the technology came from, too.

Jammrock

[This message has been edited by Jammrock (edited August 21, 2006).]


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Robert Nowall
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It's difficult to assess the level of knowledge. Some of the radio shows I've listened to, made in the thirties and forties, imply a listenership with a fair amount of knowledge about things.

(I've ruled out SF reading for my characters for the moment---fifteen thousand words in, and maybe anothe fifteen thousand before I get to the point where the nanotechnology is actually explained.)

*****

On robots..."R. U. R." introduced robots as a word...but our more enlightened time would call his robots androids. But when did it transfer to "mechanical men"? Certainly it had by the time Asimov first wrote his robot stories (1941)...and when did it emerge from the SF ghetto into mainstream consciousness? Was it part of That Buck Rogers Stuff, when the comics pages started publishing SF strips?


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Survivor
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We still don't know why this technology is being explained.
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Robert Nowall
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quote:
We still don't know why this technology is being explained.

It's not germane to the discussion. I'm interested in the technical aspects of writing it---how would one explain nanotechnology and how it works (or is supposed to work), to someone in the past. The actual era doesn't matter---Roman Empire, the Dark Ages, Shogunate Japan, post-WWII America---it could be any of them.

The circumstances could be just about anything---say, a time traveler's nanotech thingies got away from him by accident while visiting Davidic Jerusalem, or somebody stumbled on inventing it and is trying to take over the world with it, or the nanos themselves came from a distant planet as spatial spores. Anything'll do. (My plan-of-writing is not any of those.)

I've found the discussion fascinating, and I have no doubt much of it will influence how I write the scene when I get to it. But it's also just a technical puzzle, a postulation, an assumption. It need not attach itself to any particular storyline.


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rstegman
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For people before the late 1800s,

If it is something used for bad, or is bad, One might write it simply by saying it is a new disease and discribe the effects

One might talk in the line of insects smaller than fine dust. Again one would talk about the effects.

One might discuss how it is transmitted (air, physical contact, swallowed, through wounds, through the skin.
one might also mention what people might do to protect themselves. washing regularly, avoiding certain soils, etc. fully cooking foods, etc. cleaning hands with wine, etc.

Before the 1940s, stay away from technical discussions, after 1940s, coach it based on the appearent knowledge of the person you are talking to. Someone in the middle of nowhere, might be talked to like a roman citizen or medieval priest. Someone from the city might be talked to in more technical terms.


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Survivor
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The reasons for explaining it affect everything about how you would do so.

The fundamental point of an explanation is to change another person's conception of something in such a way as to affect behavior. If we don't know what behavior is to be changed, and how, then we cannot know what explanation is to be used.

I wouldn't bother explaining any future technology at all if I didn't have a definite idea of what I wanted to accomplish with that explanation. Particularly if I were a time traveler, that would just be irresponsible.


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Aust Alien
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quote:
I wouldn't bother explaining any future technology at all if I didn't have a definite idea of what I wanted to accomplish with that explanation. Particularly if I were a time traveler, that would just be irresponsible.


How come? I know this is the law in Star Trek, but if you have technology that will help someone and potentially save lives, wouldn't it be irresponsible _not_ to share it?

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Robert Nowall
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I've seen the "Star Trek" non-interference law as something of a crock---keeping the advanced technology from those who do not have it, simply because they do not have it. It's another case of the haves and have-nots. Whether they want or need it, or whether it would do any good (or bad) for them, doesn't enter into it. (Which all plays into my notions of primitive people being treated as stupid because they're primitive...)
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rickfisher
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But for time-travelers you risk unraveling the entire structure of reality from the moment you make a change, so even if you're willing to use the technology for a good purpose (because you've calculated somehow that it's "safe"), you would never want to explain it unless the explanation were necessary to being able to use it, AND, somehow, explaining it was also "safe" (highly unlikely--maybe you know the person you're explaining it to is going to get run over by a truck in five minutes?). So, yes, the reason for the explanation is kind of crucial in figuring out just how much or little, and specifically what, to say--as it would also be, though to a lesser extent, in a non-time-travel situation.
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Robert Nowall
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Of course with time travel practically anything is possible, and practically anything is disruptive---part of the problem with the whole idea, one of the things that a writer has to either (a) ignore, or (b) work very hard to overcome.

An explanation might be advanced to the characters after use---say, after emergency medical treatment involving imported nanotechnology---which introduces another set of problems. ("Why did you do this terrible thing to me?" "But we saved your life!")

I suppose the pre-now invention of nanotechnology could also be a "sport," emerging seemingly out of nowhere, involving a character who spotted something in science that would allow nanos to be built / grown / whatever. Sometimes an invention is just spotting something that everybody else has overlooked. (Not that I think it's likely---most things grow out of something else, plus demonstrable need, and nanotechnology has its own history, too---it's just a possibility.)


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Survivor
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I don't know that the risk of unravelling reality can be counted seriously. If that could happen, I would think that you'd go ahead and do without time travel. But certainly time travelers should have a definite idea of what they're trying to accomplish when they do things. After all, they know a little bit more about the future they're affecting than does the crew of the Enterprise, it only makes sense for them to think it over carefully.

As for the Star Trek Prime directive idea, I think that the history of our own world has demonstrated that you have to be very careful about introducing advanced technology to people who are likely to weaponize that technology and use it to destroy their neighbors or themselves. Since the "aliens" in the Trekiverse are basically humans with a bit of latex somewhere on their heads, it's actually a very sensible rule. Restricting even obviously benevolent interaction with non-starfaring species is unexpectedly wise. I suppose that somewhere along the way somebody realized that it doesn't help matters to give someone positive reasons to mistake you for gods.

Anyway, if your motive is to help accelerate the development of nanotechnology, then you'd want to establish prerequisite technologies first. So there would be no point in explaining nanotechnology directly, first you'd start out with an advanced explication of microbiology, protein synthesis and interactomes and all that stuff.


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Aust Alien
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Yeah. Do any of us really know much about nanotech? From what I've read over, on the few occasions we were on topic we were talking about explaining it as [a series] little robots. The microbiology and/or disease explanation would be more suitable, and more accurate.
I've heard it said microtechnology is about building things smaller, nanotechnology is about building things larger. By this they meant, microtech is about building finer and smaller components and machines as our abilities in that field get better. Nanotech starts at the other end - at the protein level - and builds up from there.
People of the 40s had a reasonable grasp of chemistry. I know not everyone in america went to college in the old days, but in a lot of countries a much lower percentage went to college. Most of my colleagues (I work in IT) didn't go or did diplomas much later in life but none of them have trouble following a techinical discussion. Leave out the dirty big words (what does DNA stand for anyway) and use enough diagrams, and biochem is easy enough to follow. You don't need to understand the details to have the concept explained. Very few people can explain how computers work for the basic principles of a logic gates right up to advanced languages, but most people can follow the basic explanation.

"Nanotech is using proteins - the building blocks of all cell life - or something similar, to build small rudimentary machines. These are assembled to create large, purpose-built units. Thousands of units work together toward a specific goal. They are powered much the same way that the antibodies that fight disease in your blood are power: the body's own chemistry. They are controlled by radio waves or even by your own nervous system."
Something like that - I got no idea who nanobots are envisioned to be controlled.
My point is: from a viewpoint of chemistry - something very familiar to the 40s population, even if not in detail - there might be a suitable explanation. People would not need college degrees to follow the discussion.


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Robert Nowall
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Oh, yeah, it's definitely the concept that I need to describe. If I could describe how nanotechnology actually worked, I wouldn't be writing about it, I'd be out building them and making my fortune (and / or taking over the world with them.) If I come up with too many technical details, I might as well have been scriptwriting for "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
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sholar
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(what does DNA stand for anyway)

The sad thing is, when I read this, my first thought was deoxyribonucleic acid. Duh. ;-)


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MollieBryn
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Robert, I've read one of Isaac Asimov's essays on robots and he said he was given the credit for widespread use of the word robot. It was true that Asimov did take the original term from R.U.R., but by that time a few other writers were also tinkering around with the ideas. Asimov was also responsible for coining the term "robotics." Incidentally, his 3 Laws (as made famous to mainstream culture by the movie "I, Robot" and also "Bicentennial Man") have also been copied and changed for any writer trying to use the mechanical men as their subjects. As for Buck Rogers, I'm afraid it was a little before my time.

Speaking of "I, Robot", was anyone else as disappointed in that movie as I was? Susan Calvin was an absolute joke compared to Asimov's vision of her in his books. I demand justice!


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Survivor
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You still haven't clarified the purpose of the explanation, which is fundamental to understanding how it would be explained.
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Aust Alien
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quote:
The sad thing is, when I read this, my first thought was deoxyribonucleic acid.

I was told National Dislexic Association


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Robert Nowall
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"I, Robot" was the title of a story by EandO Binder before it was the title of Asimov's first collection of robot stories. (It was dramatized twice on "Outer Limits," once in the black-and-white period and once in the color group.) Asimov was persuaded by his publisher to use the title, even though he was fully aware of its origin.

I'm not sure of the precise dates, but I think Binder's story came out two or three years before Asimov wrote his first robot story. ("Robbie," also known as "Strange Playfellow.") Certainly robots---as we know them---figured in other stories before then. ("Helen O'Loy," Lester Del Rey, for example.)

(On the movie---it looked like nothing to do with any of Asimov's stories one way or the other: I stayed clear of it. Y'know, Harlan Ellison wrote a screenplay version of "I, Robot" that was never produced---it wasn't without its problems, but would've been a better movie than what was actually made. You go to the movies expecting it to be like the book, though, and you're just setting yourself up for disappointment.)


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Robert Nowall
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Separate post on Survivor's comments: It reminds me of the character in Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress." He weasels out of which laws he'll obey by insisting on knowing what circumstances before he decides whether he obeys or not. I'm sympathetic about the law, but less so about Survivor's point.

The situation can be anything. I threw a few ridiculous ones out. I'm sure the great majority of you can come up with some more of your own---possibly even better than what I actually intend to use when I get there. It's still some distance away, maybe half the novel (I'm maybe one-fifth through) and much of what comes in between it is still working itself out in my mind.

Try some out on your own. It wouldn't be any worse than, say, a Flash Challenge.


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