Monday I accompanied my NYC connection to one of his job things, the presentation of a new development in a company he is representing as a stock broker, Isolagen. Most of it was unfamiliar in the expected way: Men in suits, really good snacks at the reception afterwards, not just academically economic, and language about business that I did not understand.
But some of it was fascinatingly alien, in a oh-my-where-does-science-split-from-fiction manner. Isolagen introduced ACE, their unit for growing living cells, more precisely: growing your skin, in order to reinject it in your body and make you look pretty. It can of course also be used for plastic surgery: wounds, burns and scar treatment, not just to fight the process of aging, but that is not where they see the big money at the moment.
The ACE unit has made it possible for them to go from a process where humans had to transfer the growing cells into increasingly larger containers, into one unit with an automatic feed, that makes it possible to have all the new skin cells needed grown in one box, and not 20 different plastic bottles.
I have to admit that my first thought as I saw the stacked black ACE boxes was The Matrix. I asked their Chairman Frank deLape if he had seen it. He had. They had initially wanted a central feed for all the units! They dropped it due to the risk of contaminating all their little pods though.
I am not scared. The whole thing was so reasonably and logically explained, and it is just skin: your own skin, cultivated and put into your own body, not grown on the back of a mouse or anything. But it was - different indeed.