Breaking it down. (for SCIENCE!)

Missed this when it came out a year and a half ago – a new superglue that bonds at the molecular level, prompted by analysis of flesh-eating bacteria.

It contrasts particularly with some of the chemical screening assessments I’ve been looking at lately. The most upsetting of those cited an experiment testing a chemical compound’s toxicity, in which one of the dogs being steadily poisoned lasted for for nine hundred and ninety days before dying.

Please accept my assertion that those were not a healthy, pain-free nine hundred and ninety days, and let us move on.  (If possessed of pets, you may wish to have a small time-out in which to cuddle one or pet one of them for comfort. I am doing this thing.  I am also rambling all over the place.)

It occurs to me that one of the great and very subtle progressions in the study of chemistry (biochemistry, nanochemistry, biology, medicine) is the building of useful models.  There are blind spots, there are errors, but the current level of knowledge actually allows you to build useful models of such things as antidepressants or antibiotics and test intelligently.  It’s like the difference between being able to actually calculate stresses for the construction of a bridge, and just dumping together a pile of concrete and steel girders and hoping it doesn’t break because things kind of like this didn’t break before.

This is kind of awesome, and it makes me wonder why so much (not all!) SF is so neophobic. There are evil terrorists who use X to knock something over, or arrogant scientists who creates Y disease and wipes out a chunk of the planet’s population, or alien invaders who dazzle people with Z technology so we do not notice they are suppressing Real True Good Things. (And even when the story does not endorse this, the reading so often does. It surprises me how few people want to rip Victor Frankenstein a new one for looking at his newborn and then promptly running away from his responsibilities because it wasn’t as pretty as he’d hoped and actually moved around on its own.)

Conflict is interesting, yes; but if the only thing technology does in a story is create new and more destructive arenas for conflict, I suspect that the possibilities are not being fully examined.

(I have been told, repeatedly, that I need to pick up some Iain Banks Culture novels, and I plan to.)

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