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In The Name Of Public Good

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  1. On the day Alaska Airlines flight 261 crashed into the Pacific with eighty-eight souls on board, Sam brought a sample of industrial lubricant from P0F-831 to General Hammond. The only alien technology they’d need to release was the recipe and the manufacturing process; the raw materials were plentiful on Earth. It could be made in a few different consistencies, each with performance at least forty percent better and longevity at least sixty percent better than any currently available terrestrial alternative. Hammond passed her proposal to the Pentagon, but it was turned down. The grease was too different than anything on the market and there would be “considerable difficulty” making the story believable. Besides, there was no “significant benefit” to its release, since the crash would have been avoidable if only Alaska Airlines had adhered to maintenance schedules and applied terrestrial grease to the jackscrew correctly. Sam took the rest of the day off after she got that email.
  2. The roots of a plant native to P82-753 could be ground up, boiled, and reduced down to a sour-tasting syrup that was an effective antibiotic against a variety of hospital-acquired infections. Daniel negotiated a trade deal: thirty pounds of raw roots in exchange for a thousand yards of extra-wide undyed, unbleached cotton fabric every three months. The SGC added the syrup to its regular medications and shared doses as needed with critically ill patients at the Academy hospital. The plant would be nigh-on impossible to cultivate on Earth, and their trading partners on 753 had promised all they could spare. There just wasn’t enough medicine to share with the world.
  3. There weren’t many planets SG-1 visited on par, technologically, with Earth, and Sam could count on one hand the number of those planets where they’d found governments willing to trade advanced technology. P92-27M was one of them. Incredibly, the Kodou and the Tau’ri were almost exactly on the same page with weapons technology, from nuclear capabilities to fighter planes. Without hard power driving the deal, the negotiating teams could dig into medicine, navigation, and meteorology. The Koduans had refined their weather forecasting to a nearly-exact science, and with predictions nearly one hundred percent accurate to twenty-two hours out, they could seed clouds and change weather patterns to be less dangerous for heavily-populated areas. Sam got to ride along for a distribution of particulate matter intended to shift a tornado eighteen hours in the future ten miles to the south, and sure enough, the next day the twister destroyed a swath of grassland instead of residential housing. The Kodouan scientists adjusted their formulas for Earth and promised similar results, and the President was on board, but no one was quite sure if weather modification on that scale was legal. NOAA got an attenuated version of the forecasting algorithms, but nothing could be done about tornado season.
  4. Colonel O’Neill and Daniel came up with a variety of names for foodstuff from P64-572, like “high-octane protein powder” and “protein Tetris” and “Soylent tan.” The Dine had figured out a way to rotate and twist amino acids together to compress them into a tiny space while keeping them highly bioavailable. Malnutrition was a thing of the past for them. Daniel was thrilled to bring it back to Earth, even if it did taste terrible when dissolved in orange juice instead of the lemon-cucumber-mango-esque juice the Dine mixed it in. Mass-producing the powder on Earth would require significant private sector involvement, and with private sector involvement came a significant price tag. Even with subsidies, the profit motive wouldn’t be there. Any government trying to fix a major malnutrition issue likely wouldn’t be able to pay anything near what the powder would cost. Sam heard from Major Davis that the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry had a particularly heated debate on the topic, but ultimately the decision to keep the recipe secret fell to the President. Sam had trouble eating for weeks out of guilt when she heard.
  5. Sam had heard the phrase “ultra-high capacity batteries” more times than she cared to count, but the solid-state batteries from P18-942 did way more than exceed expectations. Sam’s back-of-the-envelope calculations said they could power transcontinental passenger aircraft without weight or space concerns. In the middle of talks to share technology, though, one of the SGC’s negotiators was somehow involved in a murder. The details were muddy and the story went through several iterations, but within a few days the Tau’ri were no longer welcome on the planet. Sam tried to recreate the technology from memory, but without a full understanding of the underpinning developments, she didn’t get far. It was one of the most disappointing failures of her career.

 

  1. Sam heard “but it’s just paint” about three dozen times when she proposed releasing the formula for an airplane paint additive from P6T-294 that reduced drag by about two percent. “It’s just paint, and it’s not worth the trouble for a two percent difference,” everyone told her. It didn’t seem to matter how many times she explained that a two percent difference on every flight flown in a year would have a major impact on fuel consumption overall. It didn’t seem to matter that the additive could be made by mixing together two widely available and cheap chemicals. She actually went to Home Depot and bought the ingredients and a bucket to demonstrate the process to anyone she could get to listen. It didn’t matter. Too much trouble for the brass. For the first time in her life, Sam leaked classified information. She went flying with a friend from the Academy who’d left the Air Force for the private sector and gave her all the details on the condition that she didn’t ask any questions. “I’ll see what I can do,” she said, and then it was out of Sam’s hands. Sam didn’t hear another word about it for three years, when she overheard a 302 tech talking about how annoying it was to repaint everything in the hangar to get a measly two percent reduction in drag. She treated herself to a nice steak dinner that night to celebrate.