So, I’m working owl shift again. Which means that I am more sleep deprived than usual. It’s a quiet night. So I started thinking about non work related things.
In this case, the big subject is Star Trek, in particular the universe of Next Gen. Thus it includes DS9 and Voyager.
First, a little background.
So, I was making a quesadilla for lunch* at the time. The tortilla was browning nicely. The cheese was melting. And I realized that some roasted corn salsa would go nicely with it. So I opened the fridge to pull it out and I saw somebody’s bacon.
My stomach did a little nervous jump.
A couple of years ago, bacon (most pork and beef actually, but especially bacon) began causing some bad symptoms in my body. Symptoms like incapacitating pain and bleeding. So, I do not eat it anymore. I rarely even crave it. I remember loving it, but pain and fear of death can be pretty strong negative stimuli.
Now, I often tell people that my job is as close as a contemporary person can get to working in Ops in the Star Trek universe. I play with particle accelerators, for Pete’s sake! I have been in control of large** quantities of antimatter. So it is pretty common for me to think of Star Trek while I am working.
Since I was cooking, I thought about replicators, the devices which produce the majority of the food on the starships. You just tell the computer what you want, and it appears before you within seconds. It was never cooked. It did not come from a farm or store. The computer figures out the chemical and physical composition and even serves it at the correct temperature.
It never came from a plant or animal. The atoms and molecules were just put together like so many lego bricks until they made the structure described in the database’s recipes.
So, does that mean that a vegan could eat anything that came from a replicator? Nothing from the replicator came from an animal. By that definition, it should all be ok to eat.
And by that same thought process, would replicator bacon be OK for devout Jews and Muslims to eat? Could a practicing Hindu eat a replicated steak?
But then I really started thinking. What about people? No, I was not wondering whether you could order “long tom” from the replicator. Although that is another interesting question.
I was wondering about the transporters. The transporters and the replicators were described as sharing technology and similar concepts. The transporter takes apart a person, breaks them down into particles, changes the matter into energy, transmits the energy to a receiver, translates the energy back into matter and puts it all back together in the same configuration in which the matter left.
Or to put it another way, the transporter kills you. Destroys your body. And then puts together a clone of you in a different location. A clone which somehow contains all of your memories up to the point at which you died.
I am pretty sure that no small number of today’s religions would have a problem with this. After all, what about a person’s soul?
I am certain that none of the above are original thoughts. They are just original to me. And I only came up with them because owl shift makes me a little loopy.
But in the end, it all comes down to the fact that I would love to have a replicator which could make bacon which would not cause the symptoms that I always get.
We are not quite in that universe yet. But I think we’re getting closer.
* Lunch and other such meal titles have taken on a flexible meaning for me since I started working a rotating shift. Lunch has become “the meal I eat about halfway through my shift no matter what time of day it is … unless I feel like calling it breakfast, dinner, or supper.”
** Large, like lunch, has also developed a slightly different meaning since working here. Our facility was the best at producing and storing anti-protons in the world! On the other hand, all of the energy from every bit of antimatter produced on Earth would still not equal the energy produced from a standard match.