In past years I resolved to refrain from making predictions. In other years I predicted I would lose that resolve. This year the latter prevails, so here are my proton predictions (and one resolution) for 2018. Possibly plausible, perhaps impossible. You decide.
Just to be fair, please and send me your predictions.
In 2018 …
Protons will be weaponized
It seems that any advanced technology ultimately finds an application in warfare, so why should protons be exempt?
Gene Roddenberry almost got it right by introducing us to photon-based weaponry. Photons are well known as the force behind Star Trek’s devastating torpedoes. They do hit the target, but we have also seen them cause some unfortunate collateral damage in several episodes. If Roddenberry were with us today, he would undoubtedly have allowed post-Enterprise starships to take advantage of a more precise technology: the proton beam.
A proton torpedo would not only offer greater precision than a photon torpedo, but would also nearly eliminate collateral damage. Such a weapon would hit the bullseye without harming unfortunate civilizations that happen to be in the torpedo’s path beyond the target. The entire universe would be considerably safer, and after all, everyone wants safer weapons!
If you were Kirk or Spock, which would you prefer? The answer is obvious.
As a visionary, Roddenberry was able to imagine a powerful photon-based weapon not yet invented. Today, imagining is unnecessary because proton technology is a reality. Sooner rather than later, our military will take note. Development of proton-based weaponry will begin in 2018, and we’ll see prototypes before year-end.
To honor Roddenberry , perhaps the first such weapons should be called Roddenblasters.
Proton will enter politics
Election after election, the entire U.S.A. is nearly evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. This invariably leads to discussion of whether a third party would rise above the traditional two. From Ross Perot to Ralph Nader, many have tried and failed.
… in 2018 I predict we will see the rise of a new third party: The Proton Party.
Alternative political parties are typically associated with a cause or philosophy, and there is no nobler cause than curing cancer. Our populace has given plenty of attention to movements to save the planet, save the universe, save endangered species, and so on. Now it’s time to save humans, particularly those of us who are fighting cancer. Specifically, we should adopt a philosophy promoting an end to anti-proton discrimination, especially by insurance companies.
What we’ve been missing is political resolve to promote such a philosophy. To address this, in 2018 I predict we will see the rise of a new third party: The Proton Party. To sit alongside the donkey and elephant, its logo and mascot will be a bull. This is the perfect choice because proton beams precisely hit the bullseye. Furthermore, the medical community is bullish on proton therapy, as evidenced by the increasing number of proton facilities worldwide.
When you see petitions to put the Proton Party on the ballot, be sure to sign. 2018 will launch the Proton Party, and by 2020 we might see the likes of Bob Marckini sitting in the Oval Office.
Proton will be certified for Alexa
The family of Amazon Echo devices is ever-expanding. Lights, thermostats, fans, security cameras, door locks, and more can now be controlled simply by telling Alexa what to do. Skills for the Echo can be easily programmed with minimal time and effort. It already seems that there is little Alexa will be unable to do in the very near future.
There are already several specialized devices within the Echo family of products. The Echo itself has the best sounding speaker. The Echo Dot is compact and equally functional. The Echo Show includes a display for watching video or making video calls. Is there any reason to think there won’t soon be an Echo Med for medical applications?
I predict that we’ll see an Echo Med by mid-2018 (for measuring blood pressure, heart rate, etc.). A short time later, we’ll see an Echo Zap, probably developed by one or more clever proton alumni. The voice command will be “Alexa, give me the beam.” Using a sophisticated ultrasound sensing mechanism, Alexa will detect the user’s (i.e., patient’s) position and audibly guide him or her to make necessary adjustments. When ready, Alexa will say, “Hold that position” and the Zap will deliver the proton beam in the correct dosage. When complete, Alexa will say, “Great job! Now go play golf.”
… don’t count out Apple … there are already rumors of a Zappy Apple.
To be fair, Google may beat Amazon to the punch with a medical device in their competing Google Home line of products. Competition is good, and will likely speed the development of a zapper by at least one of these two giants. But don’t count out Apple. They may be lagging in this area, but there are already rumors of a Zappy Apple.
So let the race begin! Regardless of the outcome, the cancer patient will win. Proton therapy will at last be available to the masses cheaply, easily, and conveniently.
Oncomedy will become a requirement
Although I know of no formal studies, it has long been understood that humor is therapeutic. Simply stated, you cannot feel bad while you’re laughing. This certainly applies to us cancer patients. In fact, oncology combines very nicely with comedy. The result is what will become known as oncomedy.
… oncology combines very nicely with comedy. The result is what will become known as oncomedy.
Sadly, some oncologists (and many urologists) are rather humorless. This is understandable, but not universal. As a case in point, my oncologist regularly employs subtle gestures, clever quips, and notable facial expressions to provide a dose of humor during my follow-up visits. Humor does not have to be explicit to be effective, and his indirect, wry humor works well for me.
But explicit humor can be even better. To prove it, the medical community will initiate a pilot program this year. Beginning in 2018-Q3, all oncologists at leading proton therapy institutes will be required to perform thirty minutes of standup comedy for patients each month. If a free Wednesday lunch is offered for patients at the facility, the lunchroom can be used as the comedy venue. Alternatively, a small platform stage in the lobby area would work well, with performances preferably scheduled during happy hour on Fridays.
Patients will be surveyed to determine the success of the oncomedy experiment. If it is even half as successful as anticipated, the concept will no doubt be extended from the oncological setting into the urological universe. The laughter learning curve may be steeper for urologists, but if they could complete a medical education they can probably learn to tell a joke.
Yes, even the world of cancer can become a humor-filled, happier place.
And finally, a resolution
All of my blog posts are screened and edited by my wife—a donation of her time and skill for which I am grateful (and you should be, too). She has repeatedly admonished me about my overuse of alliteration, so far to no avail. I cannot seem to help myself. It just happens.
But in 2018 I’ll try harder. With a little luck, Lucy’s loathing of alliteration will at long last prevail.
Now it’s your turn to predict (or resolve). to send me yours!