NASA “HOLOPORTED” A DOCTOR TO SPACE STATION
Every now and then someone spots a story so breathtaking it makes one think one is living in an episode of Star Trek, and today's story from J.G.N. is exactly that, for NASA is now claiming it "holoported" a doctor to the international space station:
In fact, the subtitle to this article by Monisha Revisetti says exactly that: "We're living in a Star Trek episode, basically."
But wait, there's more than meets the eye here, literally:
I have a new noun for your vocabulary: Holoportation.
It's an amalgam of "hologram" and "teleportation," and though it may seem like it, it isn't just a niche sci-fi term buried somewhere in Isaac Asimov novels and Star Trek episodes.
In October, NASA used this mind-boggling, futuristic mechanism to bring NASA flight surgeon Dr. Josef Schmid onto the International Space Station while he was safely planted on our planet. No rockets necessary.
"It is a brand-new way of human exploration where our human entity is able to travel off the planet," Schmid said in a statement earlier in April. "Our physical body is not there, but our human entity absolutely is there."
The article goes on to mention that the technology has been for a while, being developed by - among others - Microsoft, but this is the first time that it has been used to "holoport" people to space. But there's still more to it:
Here's how everything went down.
Basically, high-quality 3D models of the holoporters were developed, digitally compressed, transmitted and reconstructed in the spaceborne lab -- all in real time.
Meanwhile, a mixed reality display aboard the ISS, namely Microsoft's HoloLens, allowed both the holoporters and astronauts to see, hear and interact with one another as though they were in the same physical space. Astronaut Thomas Pesquet, for instance, had a two-way conversation with Schmid and De La Pena right in the middle of the ISS despite being miles upon miles away from the holoporters.
The trio even holographically shook hands.
"We'll use this for our private medical conferences, private psychiatric conferences, private family conferences and to bring VIPs onto the space station to visit with astronauts," NASA said in a statement.
And, going forward, the agency intends to scale-up its system by adding an augmented reality function, which would give holoporters the option to really move around the space station and observe things as though they're literally there. Everything but the physical touch, you might say.
This could help with extraterrestrial telemedicine for astronauts, ISS building projects and even greatly benefit future deep space exploration. The latter bit, however, may face one major obstacle -- Earth-to-space communications typically experience up to 20-minute delays when talking to systems way (way) out into the void, NASA says. Holoportation, however, is meant to be "live," so holoporters could sort of "stay onboard" for real-time communication as demonstrated by the recent prototype delivered to the ISS.
Now we get to the high octane speculation of the day, and I am sure one of the things that immediately became apparent to you, dear reader, was the typical and shop-worn appeal to all the wonderful health benefits this will bring: "See your doctor can see you in your home without ever having to leave his office." But pardon me for pointing this out, but it strikes me that this very same technology could be used to conjure all sorts of mischief...
... if it hasn't already. You might recall a few months ago (or has it already been a couple of years?) that there was a strange video on YouTube of the Pope on a balcony somewhere in the Vatican City, doing customary "pope things" like waving to and blessing the crowd. This done, he then turned and went through a couple of doors, but before the doors could close completely, the pope...
...well, he simply vanished, poof, all gone, which made me think at the time that if the video was genuine (a big if these days), then someone turned off the holographic equipment a bit too early...
... Or did they?
Now, while we're crawling around on the very tip of the high octane speculation twig, let's just crawl off of the end of it altogether, and imagine an even more diabolically twisted scenario: imagine coupling this "holoportation" technology to well-made computer graphics technology. Already that technology is so good it was used in the Star Wars movie, Rogue One to generate the actor Peter Cushing - long since dead - to reprise his role as Grand Moff Tarkin. So imagine you want to "keep someone around" for a while who may have already died, and have that someone "appearing" publicly. Why, just wed the computer graphic technology to the "holoportation" technology, and voila, one has a body double for every occasion, including when one may need to be in two places at once.
But of course, "they" would never use such technologies for such nefarious purposes, would they?
See you on the flip side...
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