science

Strep throat and teleportation

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So a colony of Group A Streptococcus bacteria made landfall on the back of my throat on Thursday evening, and has now erupted into a thriving settlement, planting corn and making friends with the natives. The resulting raw patch on the back of ye olde windpipe makes talking and swallowing difficult, and when a 300-pound man has problems swallowing his food, well, it’s time for a doctor’s visit.

I was in the doctor’s office this morning, the nurse having just swabbed my throat with what felt like Poseidon’s trident, waiting for the results of my strep test to come back in. I was sitting there on the doctor’s bed/table/paper-covered cabinet (or whatever it’s really called), with a few minutes to kill, and I picked up February 2010’s issue of Popular Mechanics. The cover story was titled “Can Robots Be Trusted?“, written by Eric Sofge.

The article describes the author’s touching, emotional, love-filled introduction with some probably outrageously over-priced blinking robot that looks like the Bride of Chucky after a nuclear disaster, named Nexi. The little bugger has starred in its own YouTube video:

The author expounds on his wonder at the newest evolutions of robotic technology, about how he was captivated by that thing’s creepy eyes, and reflections on the future of robot/human interaction. He introduces and describes to the reader a few other robots, goes over robotic evolutionary theory, so on and so forth.

Then this goose laid a golden egg.

Contemplating [futuristic human/robot interactions–MM] is a little like debating the ethical pitfalls of unregulated teleportation. Until someone builds the Enterprise, why worry if Scotty is going to drunk-dial himself into your house?

I laughed and laughed and laughed, much to my immediate dismay as the Strep Colony apparently thought that the End of Days was upon it and decided to stake down everything important to the inner surface of my esophagus with rusty circus tent spikes.

This was a great thought! I had never seriously considered some of the possible ramifications of teleportation, especially as it relates to deviant behavior! When I got home, I saddled up my trusty steed Google, and immediately set out to research the current progress in the realm of teleportation ethics.

Well, first of all, I’m going to advise you not to do so yourself. I spent an hour looking at various websites, but most of what I found resembled this:

You see, what essentially would happen in teleportation is that our atoms would be ripped up, be sent from point A to point B, and then perfectly reassembled. Now, the question you have to answer is this: Is the person that comes out at point B really you, or just a replica of you? You may have the same data — same eyes, weight, memories, skills — but is that stuff just replicated from your former being, which may have been ripped to death at the teleported origin? And for us religious types, where does the soul fit into all of this?

Now, I do love to read philosophy, and the metaphysics of the movement of the soul during teleportation was somewhat interesting for about the first three minutes, but after that, major boring sh**.

I don’t care about what happens to a soul or memories in a world of functioning teleportation devices!!! I wanted to hear people’s thoughts on the effects of teleportation on the realm of practical jokes!

You remember the old cliched joke about tying a string to a dollar, hiding and waiting for some slack-jawed individual to bend over and try to pick it up, just to pull it out of his grasp at the last possible moment? With teleportation, you’re no longer going to be limited to a lame 2D gag! Heck, you won’t even need a string!

As the guy bends over, the dollar will reappear above his head, inside his undies, or half in the blouse of the large chested woman walking by! Great fun will be had by all.

Surprise parties will be soooo much more surprising! The birthday girl will enter into her home, turn on the lights, take off her shoes, walk around the room, then BAMMO! Fifty people and a cake will just appear out of nowhere, screaming “SURPRISE!” at the top of their lungs, and possibly triggering a life-ending heart attack.

There won’t be any need to spend time tediously balancing a bucket full of water on the top of a slightly opened door; now you can just beam the bucket into existence as someone walks through it!

Oh, the possibilities for the writers at National Lampoon will be endless. Imagine the scene:

A girl’s locker room, packed full of sweaty European women, half wrapped in nothing but towels, the other half completely naked, then Poof! Clark Griswold appears.  He looks around sheepishly, holds up his control pad, and says “Uhhh…  Wrong number?”

The possibilities are boundless!

And then the nurse came back into the office with a syringe full of penicillin the size of a Titan IIIC-Centaur rocket, stabbed me in the ass and shot me up, and I immediately thought up the niftiest use for teleportation yet…

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