bodger: (What terrible problems you have)
[personal profile] bodger
When I was watching The Dark Knight, I figured the description in the movie of a purported CIA invention called "Skyhook" wherein a person is yanked up into the air by a cable held aloft by a balloon and grabbed by a passing airplane was simply a Hollywood invention that made for a good stunt. But then I was reading a book about declassified CIA technologies, only to find that Skyhook really existed! There was even a tale where a high-ranking official wanted to give it a go, but the pilot figured he'd give a less rough ride by going slower, resulting in the poor guy getting dragged along the ground instead of yanked up into the air.

Another time, I was watching The Sarah Conner Chronicles and one plot point was that cyborgs had been sent back to the past to stockpile "coltan", a material used in making said cyborgs, which was hard to obtain in the future. I hadn't heard of coltan, so I figured it was just a Mineral MacGuffin. Again, I was mistaken. While reading up on a company that sells metals internationally, I saw a disclaimer on their web page, explaining that their coltan was obtained in a humane, legal, free trade fashion. Reading further, I discovered that coltan was an industrial shorthand for "columbite-tantalite", an ore containing columbium (an earlier term for niobium) and tantalum. Further research revealed a large, nasty underground trade supplying high-tech industries. Somewhat disconcertingly, one paper on the subject actually contains links to a site hosted at a skynet.be domain.

More recently, I read about a new treatment that could theoretically eliminate any virus from the body, by causing those cells hosting viral genetic material to destroy themselves by triggering apoptosis. This is an intriguing approach, but it also sounded all too much like the opening scenes of a "science gone bad" disaster flick. And, thinking about it, I realized that prime targets for this treatment are viruses that are difficult to eradicate, such as herpes and HIV. And these, it turns out, like to hide out in nervous tissue. Which, given the horror movie frame of mind I was in, got me to thinking. The result would be the selective removal of parts of the human nervous system. And when you selectively delete parts of the human nervous system, you get ... zombies.

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