What if … and the “Biocapsule”

Today, Gizmodo posted a great article about a potentially world-changing device brought to you by the Space Biosciences Division of NASA: the biocapsule. As the article states, if NASA wants pursue manned space exploration, the astronauts will need to treat themselves for a variety of ailments or injuries. The biocapsule could make this process quick and easy.

The biocapsule is made of carbon nanotubes and would be filled with cells that can sense an injury or medical state and then respond to it. The biocapsule (or more likely, many of them) would be injected under a person’s skin as part of an outpatient procedure. It could provide cells for years, and the biocapsule is strong enough to last that long. And because it is made of carbon, the body is unlikely to attack it. Also, it’s cheap and easy to make (a bonus, given the recent NASA budet cuts). The biocapsule could be designed to respond to an astronaut’s increased exposure to radiation or heat, as well as exhaustion or sleep deprivation.

Even better, the biocapsule isn’t just for astronauts. Like many of NASA’s inventions, this could have a dramatic effect on the rest of humanity. Biocapsules could be used to treat diabetes, cancer, or even allergies. They could even be used as a part of gene therapy, releasing cells a body is incapable of making on its own. This is a potentially lifesaving device. So next time someone asks what NASA is good for or why we should continue to fund manned space exploration, just tell them, “Because of the biocapsule.”

What if the biocapsule becomes a widespread device? How does that change health care? What if seeing your doctor was more like seeing a mechanic–just checking your fluid levels, replacing an old biocapsule with a new one, and run a few tests to see if everything’s running properly? What if biocapsules weren’t just to treat ailments? What if you could inject a year’s supply of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbs? Sounds like a perfect diet plan, as much as I love going out to eat. What if you threw in a few stimulant biocapsules–suddenly humans (or soldiers?) can operate constantly for a much longer period of time. What if a biocapsule system was used instead of an ankle bracelet? Prisoners could be injected with sedatives or other chemicals depending on their crimes (to completely kill the sex drive of a rapist or child molester. Or that of a homosexual in a strict theocracy, say). What if drug dealers started to use a biocapsule system? You could be in an altered state 24/7? Then again, I bet you a biocapsule would make one heckuva hangover treatment too.

What do you think of the latest miracle product from NASA? Would you want to use such a system? How do you think it would be used? Misused? Leave a comment below.