The Amber Nebula - Medicine and Biotechnology

Medical care is far advanced over 20th century Earth. Recovery from injury is usually complete so long as tissue death has not occurred. Developments in microsurgery allow reattachment not only of severed limbs, but also spinal cords (eliminating paraplegia) and even brain transplants. Bacterial and viral illnesses are virtually non-existent, thanks to panimmunity inoculations, although this is no guarantee against unknown diseases from newly discovered planets. Thanks to healthy living and better medical care, humans have an average lifespan of about 110 years. There are no effective anti-agathic treatments which can extend this natural lifespan.

Cloning technology is advanced enough that humans can be cloned routinely, but this is often regulated by governments for ethical reasons. Clones are of course perfect organ donors for the original person. Clones may be grown "naturally" and reared through a full developmental childhood taking many years, or their early growth may be accelerated so that an apparently 20-year old clone is produced in just one year. Such an accelerated clone will have an essentially blank mind, equivalent in knowledge and experience to a newborn baby.

Related to cloning is braintaping, the recording of a person's memories and personality on to electronic storage media. A braintape can either be run by a computer as a sentient AI, or loaded into a blank mind such as that of a newly grown clone. This means that a clone loaded with a recent braintape of the original person is an exact copy of that person, down to personality and memories (up to the time the braintape was made). In some societies, such copies are legally recognised as the same person. If an original person dies, a braintape-loaded clone can effectively take that person's place. Braintapes can also be loaded into blank-mind clones of other people, but not into already developed minds.

Suspended animation technology is available, placing people in a frozen sleep for later revival. There is not much need for this except in emergency long-haul life support situations. However, some people choose to freeze themselves periodically to simulate an artificially long lifespan by simply skipping a few months or years here and there. Some have programmed their freeze tubes to revive them after 100 years or more, so they can see what the Galaxy is like then—essentially a one-way trip to the future.

Advanced genetic engineering techniques allow the breeding of tailored organisms fit for almost any purpose. Genetically adapting humans to hostile environments has been carried out on small scales, but is often frowned upon for ethical reasons. The Pachekki are especially adept at biotechnology, and are not averse to tinkering with their own genetic material, or that of other species.

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