Destined for Oblivion describes a variety of technologically advanced equipment that is used by various characters throughout the story. Most of these items, however, are actually scientifically feasible and groundbreaking innovations and rigorous research in various fields such as engineering, physics, and biological science have provided us with countless means to bring these ideas—the brainchild of science fiction authors and visionaries—closer to reality.

 

Replicator


st_replicatorThe replicator was popularized by the sci-fi TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was coined as an advancement from the food synthesizer that was portrayed in Star Trek: The Original Series.

In theory, a replicator is designed to create any form of inanimate matter that fits in its tray or receptacle, provided that the desired molecular structure is on file.  It acts in a way like a molecular assembler, which rearranges subatomic particles to form molecules and arrange such molecules in order to form an object.  It cannot, however, replicate antimatter or living organisms of any kind.

In the book, the Station Replicator is a structurally-integrated device that primarily functions like a 3D copier.  It essentially duplicates any inanimate object that is placed in an adjacent holding vessel, but it cannot fabricate material by itself out of a saved database.  It can duplicate currency and gold bars; however, the end-products retain the serial number of the original.  As with its Star Trek variant, it cannot duplicate antimatter or living organisms.

The Stations’ inhabitants primarily use the replicator to duplicate various foodstuff for their daily consumption.  However, it has been demonstrated that some replicators can also directly “molecularly assemble” food and beverage that is customized for a user’s current health status.

 

Book Trivia:

The Stations’ integral security system can identify replicated items and prohibit an individual from taking it out of the facility as part of a control measure to ensure that replicated items do not gain entry into the outside world.

 

In Real Life:

3d printAdditive manufacturing, more commonly known as 3D printing, has been around since the 1980s with the advent of Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), which was developed and patented by Dr. Carl Deckard and Dr. Joseph Beaman under the sponsorship of DARPA.  A similar unpatented process was commercialized by Ross Housholder in 1979. Stereolithographyfused deposition modeling, and inkjet 3D printing came into development from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s.  The term “3D printing” itself was coined by MIT graduate students Jim Bredt and Tim Anderson in 1995 when they modified an inkjet printer to extrude a binding solution onto a bed of powder, instead of ink onto paper.

NASA has developed a near-similar technology called electron beam freeform fabrication (EBF3), a process which uses an electron beam to melt metals and build objects layer by layer in a microgravity environment.

While the replicator from both Star Trek and Destined for Oblivion can essentially “fabricate” objects out of thin air, 3D printing entails technologies that create objects through a sequential layering process.  Layer production comes in different methods such as melting with SLS, direct metal laser sintering (DMLS)electron beam melting (EBM)fused deposition modeling (FDM), or powder bed/inkjet 3D printing, or via liquid material curing with photopolymerization methods like stereolithography (SLA) and digital light processing (DLP).  Another method is by laminated object manufacturing (LOM), where thin layers of adhesive-coated paper, plastic, or metal laminates are succesively glued together and cut to shape with a knife or laser cutter.

This technology is currently used in the fashion industryindustrial design, architecture,engineering and construction (AEC), automotive, aerospacebioengineeringdental and medical industrieseducationgeographic information systemsmilitary reasearch, and many other fields.

 

Medical Autonomous Regeneration System (MARS)


The Medical Autonomous Regeneration System is a regenerative medical device that is used in infirmaries throughout the various Builder Stations in the Destined for Oblivion Series.

The MARS functions as an emergency medical equipment for the treatment of cuts, bruises, burns, and even broken bones.  It emits a faint light that promotes rapid cellular regeneration on an affected body part, i.e. a wound site.  Users with a higher degree of access can use a more advanced version of the device that employs the use of medical-grade nanites to detect and treat more serious medical concerns such as pathogenic and parasitic infection, metabolic anomalies, neoplastic disease, cardiovascular and hematological disease, and even neurological disorders.

The device can also be used for rapid tissue regeneration in an open surgery procedure.

Users of exceptionally high level have discovered that they can activate genes and biosynthetic processes that promote cellular regeneration and longevity in humans, essentially hindering the aging process and rendering the subject biologically immortal.

There is no account, however, of the device being used on cases of chromosomal abnormalities and other congenital anomalies.

 

Book trivia:  There are two types of MARS depicted in the series:  Portable and fixed-platform.  The portable variety can facilitate ambulatory care, while the fixed variety comes complete with a bay bed as well as several imaging and monitoring systems and it can perform more complicated operations such as corporeal reconstruction, organ printing, prosthetic implantation, and gene modification on site.

 

In Real Life:

  1. scanadu-scoutA device that reads a person’s pulse transit time, heart rate, electrical heart activity, temperature, heart rate variability and pulse oximetry has been developed by Scanadu and it is slated to be released by the end of 2013 along with a couple of over-the-counter disposable cartridges; one will serve as a urine analyzer (to test for pregnancy complications, preeclampisa, gestational diabetes, kidney failure and urinary tract infections) while the other will be an early detection medium for Strep A, Influenza A, Influenza B, Adenovirus and RSV.  Both disposable cartridges will relay their diagnostic data via the user’s smartphone.
  2. regrowfinger1Regeneration of severed body parts has also been made feasible with the use of an extracellular matrix (ECM), a collection of signaling proteins and information that is held within the structural molecules.  In 2005, Lee Spievack, a model airplane hobbyist, successfully regrew his severed fingertip with the application of a powder made out of ECM, which is derived from pig bladder.  It is currently being used regularly to treat ulcers by closing the hole in the tissue that lines the stomach, but further research is currently being done by many universities as well as the U.S. Government for wounded soldier applications. As of early 2007, testing was being carried out on a military base in Texas. Scientists are using a powdered form on Iraq War veterans whose hands were damaged in the war.
  1. new-organ-3d-printing-1The potential for computer-aided, jet-based 3D tissue-engineering of living human organs, more commonly known as organ printing, is promising.  A recent innovative method of construction uses an ink-jet mechanism to print precise layers of cells in a matrix of thermoreversable gel. The combination of an engineering approach with the developmental biology concept of embryonic tissue fluidity enables the creation of a new rapid prototyping 3D organ printing technology, which will dramatically accelerate and optimize tissue and organ assembly.There has been substantial progress in this subject.  Bioengineers from the University of Pennsylvania have used a 3D printer to make templates of blood vessel networks out of sugar. Once the networks are encased in a block of cells, the sugar can be dissolved, leaving a functional vascular network behind.

Biosynthetic Neural Implant (BNI)


In Destined for Oblivion, the most high-ranking members of the Station Core are fitted with a biosynthetic neural implant that allows them to access the Station’s central database remotely and subsequently view the data through an embedded HUD projection within an ancillary corneal implant. The neural implant projection comes in an interface that can be manipulated intuitively and has the capacity to highlight, label and provide relevant data on specific structures, materials, or personnel that the user visually focuses on.  Further data on the subject/s in focus can be ascertained by actively accessing the central database remotely via preset mental commands.  The system can also feed information regarding proximal nonvisual stimuli (e.g. ambient noise, temperature, proprioception, etc.) on its interface.

 

Book Trivia:

The Destined for Oblivion series references a similar albeit more basic version of the BNI that comes in the form of interactive HUD eyeglasses.  The glasses provide roughly the same amount of data that the current BNI can, but the type of information is limited based on the user’s level on the Builders’ Access Scale.

 

In Real Life:

sciam_brain-computer-interfaceScientists have been working on neural implants from as early as 1976 and studies revolving around the topic have progressed significantly since then. In recent years, more advanced biomedical prostheses have been developed for sensory substitution (i.e. vision) and brain-computer interfaces (BCI) for mind-to-machine interactions designed to assist, augment, or repair human cognitive or sensorimotor functions.

Neural implants such as deep brain stimulation and Vagus nerve stimulation are increasingly becoming routine for patients with Parkinson’s disease and clinical depression respectively, proving themselves as a boon for people with diseases which were previously regarded as incurable.

 

Teleporter Pad


transporterStar Trek’s transporter device is one of the most widely-recognized allusions to teleportation in fiction. It is used to teleport people and things from ship to ship or from ship to planet and the other way around in an instant. Persons or non-living items would be placed on the transporter pad and are dismantled particle by particle by a beam with their atoms being patterned in a computer buffer and converted into a beam that is directed toward the destination, and then reassembled back into their original form (usually with no mistakes). Site-to-site transportation is also possible, where the subject does not need to be reassembled on the transporter pad before being transported and reassembled on a different location.

 

Every Builder Station in Destined for Oblivion has a set of teleporter pads, each capable of transporting users and select equipment to an affiliate facility.

Various characters in the book use teleporter pads to travel to and fro different Stations across the globe.  The type of destination that can be reached by a particular user is determined by its level based on the Builders’ Access Scale.  The centralized access control also determines whether a user can transport a particular type of equipment from one facility to another.

In Real Life:

Physicists have been teleporting photons since 1997 and the technique is now standard in optics laboratories all over the world.  The method is now currently the enabling technology behind quantum cryptography, which is a way of sending information with near-total secrecy.  Scientists in China have successfully teleported a photon a record-setting distance of 97 kilometers.