Transplanted Life
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Investigating nano-machines
They're attached to my brain cells, probably several per synapse. It's speculated that each one is slightly different, with affinities for different types of cells. Or they could be able to somehow create keys for the two neurons they sit between, allowing the computer they transmit to to build a dynamic map and find correspondences between two brains. Of the ones that attached to my brain in July 2003, only about a third are left, because they're falling away at a reasonably quick rate - they've got a half-life of about two years, which means after two years, about half will have detached in that time, eventually being carried out of my body as waste. That's why a scientist with the appropriate equipment can tell how roughly long it's been since someone has had the contents of their brains swapped from a blood test - work out how many of these things are in our blood stream, and converting that number to a length of of time is just math.

You've got to have the right equipment, of course, since these are nano-machines. You can't just stick a drop of blood under a microscope and count them any more than you could with a digestive enzyme. Indeed, calling them machines makes them sound much more complex than they are - they're fairly close to molecular-scale and are in many ways more akin to being chemicals than they are to conventional electronics. So you need to be able to pick something with a certain molecular weight and structure out of the crazy stew we call blood.

Fortunately, there's Maggie.

Mags can't get all that done herself; she does mostly genetic research, which is pretty far from the work I'm describing. But that new boyfriend of hers? He's a research chemist, and he knows a guy or two. That's incredibly helpful, because Amy isn't willing to work with the FBI at all. I don't necessarily blame her; figuring out how long somebody has been having nanos fall out of her brain and into her bloodstream is just barely within the purview of what you'd expect a scientist on their payroll to be able to do. It's cutting-edge stuff, but it's basically forensics. Figuring out what her deal was, what makes her situation different from mine with the memory loss, that's research.

Besides, finding missing persons is what the FBI is really good at, and they let her down there.

Anyway, soon after she showed up on Halloween, I gave Maggie a call and asked if this was something she could do after hours or she knew someone who could. She gave me the expected lecture about how she wasn't a movie scientist and had a specific specialty, but she did know someone. Apparently, they were fairly enthusiastic: No-one has actually published anything about the mind-exchanging technology yet, but everyone in the nanotech and neurobiological and biochemical communities knows about it, and the chance to work on some of this stuff is a big deal. I kind of wish I'd known about that a couple years ago; I bet I could have paid a few months' rent by selling a pint or two of blood. Maggie called me back, I called Amy, and she reluctantly agreed to have some blood taken.

I made sure Maggie was there, just so that Amy would deal with someone I could assure her was trustworthy.

At first, nothing came of it; in fact, the first time Maggie called us back she asked if I was absolutely sure that Amy was like me, because they couldn't find any nanos in her blood work - by which they mean, the molecules they have which usually react to nanos weren't yielding the usual end products which they could detect. However, something was happening which they couldn't quite account for, so they've asked me for some blood to be used as a control group.

I just did that yesterday. Hopefully it can help them figure out what the deal with Amy's blood is.


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