- Paperback: 308 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books (September 18, 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0201567512
- ISBN-13: 978-0201567519
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,909 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Great Mambo Chicken And The Transhuman Condition: Science Slightly Over The Edge
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Sometimes a book has such a wonderful title that you assume the text could not be any good: but The Great Mambo Chicken is in fact a wonderfully rollicking masterpiece of scientific reportage about some of the wilder ideas being seriously considered by scientists "slightly over the edge" Regis describes the life and ideas of rocket scientists who would like everyone to have their own way into space, cryogenecists who hope to freeze people for revival in the future, nanotechnologists who want to build molecular robots to fix everything, and space colonists who want to build new worlds from the spare parts of the solar system -- and beyond. The most remarkable thing about the stories: Regis reveals that these seemingly disparate communities are all interwoven in unexpected ways. Even Evel Knievel makes a surprise visit in the chapter on personal rocket ships. Very Highly Recommended, and likely to become an Amazon.com Books customer favorite. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Author of the delightful Who Got Einstein's Office? , Regis here presents a hilarious but nevertheless sympathetic look at practitioners of "fin-de-siecle hubristic mania." These are the scientific visionaries who are plotting "post-biological man," scheming to build giant space colony/stations to orbit around the Earth, use microscopic robots (nanotechnology) to resurrect humans frozen in liquid nitrogen, raise chickens in higher gravity fields and project human minds via energy beams to distant galaxies. Readers learn about artificial life, bioinfomatic bumblebees, human minds instilled in "bush robots" and how to enclose the Sun within a man-made sphere. In the future everything will be possible and humans will be able to redesign themselves and the universe to meet higher technical standards than mere nature has achieved. This is a wonderful romp on the cutting edge of science.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Basically it describes a whole bunch of failures, or at best stagnated situations.
We don't have space colonization, and I say this as a disappointed L-5er who first met Keith Henson at Washington University (St. Louis, MO) in the late 1970's.
We don't have "nanotechnology," apparently because Eric Drexler got the physics wrong. I have the impression that Drexler in 2012 lives hand to mouth as a visiting policy wonk at various universities, and he manages somehow to run on the fumes of his failed nanotech vision from the 1980's instead of doing something which adds to the GDP. Ed Regis himself, in an interview he gave about "nanotechnology" back in 2001, indicated that he began to see something wrong with the whole idea because his coverage of it as a science writer over a decade showed him a lot of speculation but no progress towards nanomachines .
The manned space age has basically failed, despite the recurring "future porn" in magazines like Popular Science about private space ventures and missions to Mars.
Robert Truax died a few years ago with his dreams of space travel unfulfilled.
Timothy Leary, who pops up in the book in a few places, died without getting cryosuspended.
Alcor moved from Riverside, CA, to Scottsdale, AZ, in 1994, to find a friendlier regulatory climate. But the cryonics movement, which I know something about, seems to have stagnated since a brief burst of energy and growth circa 1990, apparently caused by enthusiasm for Drexler's ideas. I submit that these people might have signed up for cryosuspension for bad reasons. I leave it to them whether they should reconsider. Despite my lack of status in the cryonics community, I've tried to make cryonicists form new neural pathways in their aging brains to see that we have some serious problems and that we can't keep depending on bad futurology from the late 20th Century to justify our efforts. But I seem to have little or no effect so far.
On the whole, nothing of substance Regis described in his book has come to fruition in the past 22 years. I can remember when we used to call stories set in the year 2012 "science fiction." Now we look at the calendar and sigh, "Jeez, tax time again!" Something has gone wrong with "progress," perhaps for the reasons economist Tyler Cowen describes in his book,The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All the Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History, Got Sick, and Will(Eventually) Feel Better
How many people can earth sustainably pack while providing enough food? If you think it's a few dozen billion? You're wrong by order of magnitudes you can't fathom!
Musing about living in space? Some serious scientists have made careful calculations about what can be achieved with reasonable effort - it's stellar ;)
How quickly can humans pollinate the galaxy? How long would it take and how small would the rockets need to be? How nano-scale can we make things? Read the book!
You'll learn that NASA is doing it wrong - they could put more stuff into orbit for far less cost. You'll learn about a process to make nano-scale machines that is brilliant, intuitive, and seems totally doable!
Awesome fun - buy and read ;)
It's an engaging yarn told by a half-believer. Yet hints of a bigger story poke through from time to time. Regis does not leave this to chance but pulls it together near the very end of the book. Delving deeper into history, he shows that there's good reason why these techno-cults have persisted over the years. If you want deeper insight into the mythical longings that drive much of our modern technocracy, Great Mambo Chicken is well worth the read.