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Clement's Corner: Transportation Required

There’s nothing to beat a good book when it comes to stimulating conversation on a long flight, as Owen Clement’s story reveals.

“I want to be transported, Wal.”

Walter Carpenter who sat next Alexander Ford in a Boeing 747 on their way to an overseas business conference well knew about his friend and colleague’s impulsive comments coming from nowhere.

“You mean like the convicts were in the early days?”

“No-no-no – you know transported – dematerialized and then materialized somewhere else.”

“You and your science fiction.”

‘No, seriously, think about it. Virtually in my lifetime, my lifetime mind you, we have gone from horse and cart to jet aircraft like this one and now to sending space probes to Mars and other planets. Take watches and telephones these days if there was anything taken straight from the futuristic Dick Tracey, the comic book detective of the nineteen forties, they are, and, they are much more sophisticated. My grandson showed me just the other day how he can send messages and images instantly right across the world on his mobile phone. Surgeons now, as you know, can perform remote control operations using computers thousands of miles away.”

“But, what has any of this to do with transportation?”

“I’m getting to that. I know we are not there yet, but some future bioengineer is going to do it by using combinations of cloning, brain scanning, DNA and many other new areas of sciences like nanotechnology for example. You knock science fiction writers but my dear friend; ages ago they predicted things that are in common use every day now. Jules Verne predicted submarines being used long before they became a reality; he wasn’t the first of course now I think of it, it was Michelangelo who did that. We are getting away from the point in a way. Do you agree that technology is improving at an incredible speed?”

“Of course, I agree.”

“Okay, let’s look at what I’m talking about. Firstly, the body is made up mostly of water and a few dollars worth of readily available chemicals, right?”

“Yes, I know that.”

“And now, bodies can be cloned, can’t they?”

“Never mind the numbers just say what you are getting at.”

“Right. As I said earlier, after our bodies are duplicated, we could have our DNA copied and all you would need, as I said, with the chemicals and the water we could be replicated. The tricky part as yet of course, is the brain. However, I reckon that with future technology we will be able to record electrical impulses of the brain, and with super duper computers, including our memory; we could very well be reproduced. All we would need then is receiving stations around the world to reprocess the data and reassemble the body complete with broken fingernails and probably even things like dandruff.”

“Your nuts, me old mate.”

“I know I am exaggerating a bit, but what I am saying is, that in another few years, if technology keeps going ahead like it is, cell transportation could become a real possibility. I do admit that major difficulties have yet to be overcome.”

“Go on really!”Wally wondered if Lex was going to carry on this vein on the whole of the flight.

“Am I boring you?” Lex became aware of Wally’s heavy frame fidgeting by his side.

“No – no, I’m fine. It just seems very far fetched, that’s all.”

“There are major difficulties at the moment but the way science is going it won’t be long, believe me”.

Wally wasn’t interested in Lex’s flights of fancy but he thought he had better humour his friend along.

“Let’s look at some of these ‘problems’, Lex. Let’s suppose that we can be cloned – reproduced intact exactly as we are and transported to say the old country, for example, wherever that may be.”

Lex was about to speak.

“Wait a minute, what happens to the original?” Wally continued, “Are we disposed of – killed? That would be murder wouldn’t it? Can you imagine what people like the kooky right-to-lifer’s would have to say about that?”

“I can imagine and I suppose they would have a point,” Lex concurred.

“Let’s go further,” Wally continued, “new laws would have to be enacted by bioethicists, and lawyers - not my favourite people - would have a field day.”

Lex was keen to interject again.

“Hang on - give me a minute to comment on some of your theories. You know I don’t think quickly like you do, but here goes. Would it be possible for instance, for a young woman to have herself copied and later have old self changed back to the earlier model? Men could do the same too. Would it be legal to hang on to the pattern or whatever?”

Delighted that his friend had entered into the discussion, Lex started to speak, but once again Wally interjected brusquely, “I haven’t finished yet. Not only could people like criminals disappear, unhappy wives or husbands could do so too. Also, what about if many copies were made and distributed to other places? I have thought about this for only a few minutes but can you imagine how many more difficult areas would have to be investigated just because you, or someone like you, want to be transported?"

“Yes I have thought about these matters and I do have a long list of topics, costs included, that would require more comprehensive discussions.”

Wally turned and looked deeply in Lex’s eyes: “Are you are quite serious about this?”

“Oh hell - you know - not really. I just wanted to stimulate the conversation.”

Wally shook his head and both men smiled.

“Anyway, just suppose , “Lex continued, “ it is possible, can you imagine the headlines, ‘Science fiction writer foretells human body transportation.’ ”

“Eh! What writer was that?”

“Jack Finney in his book “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

“How come you knew his name just like that?”

“I happen to be reading it again. It has to be one of my very favourite books.”

“Would it by any chance have anything to do with bodies being transported?”

“Possibly.”

Wally shook his head and they both began laughing.


© Clement 2006

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