Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
have announced what is effectively a hand-held neutron
source. Article here:
Mr. Jones is shouting from the back of the room "I feel like
you are an imbecile because a new neutron source has *NOTHING*
to do with Eliezer's sleeping habits." Master Bradbury
turns to Mr. Jones, with just a hint of a twinkle in his eye,
attempting to adopt a serious look, though one can see a suggestion
of a raised Spock-like eyebrow, and says, "But new neutron
sources have *everything* to do with how Eliezer sleeps."
Mr. Jones, being a model extropian says, "Please explain
to me why that is the case."
Master Bradbury says, "Well we *know* that mature nanotechnology
is very sensitive to radiation right?" Mr. Jones says "yes".
Master Bradbury says, "And we know that Eliezer is not particularly
fond of the hazards presented by mature nanotechnology, right?"
Mr. Jones again says "yes". "Well then", Master Bradbury points
out, "with handheld neutron sources, Eliezer can perform nanotech
sterilizations of anything he comes into contact with. Previous
sterilization methods were problematic. Proton or electron beams
can be dealt with via clever electromagnetic shields. Gamma rays
do much less damage to an atomically precise structure (depending
on the interaction profiles of the element types in the nanomachinery
with gamma rays of various energies). But 'neutrons' -- they are
the gold standard -- they can't be blocked (except by massive amounts
of shielding) and when absorbed by the elements in the nanomachinery
they ultimately cause transmutation which changes the element
bonding properties which of course breaks the nanomachinery. Since
Eliezer now has a robust defense against nanomachinery, he can now
sleep more comfortably at night."
Now, it is left as an exercise for the reader whether Eliezer
will choose to live in a neutron beam studded enclave where
he is his natural self and no nanomachinery can ever reach him
*or* whether he will continuously irradiate himself with
neutron beams relying on his own certified nanobots to sort
out the radioactive atoms that will result (returning them
to the nearest radioisotope-to-stable isotope transmutation
facility as properly extropic people should).
Though I've mentioned it only briefly in previous posts, scientists
at Los Alamos have proposed methods for transmuting radioactive
isotopes back into stable isotopes. What has been lacking is
an effecient inexpensive separation technology (for the radioactive
vs. non-radioactive atoms). Mature nanotechnology provides such
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