Unfortunately, 2109 had found biologists within the Legate in compromised position. It seemed that, while triumphs in human arcology had allowed for a good two billion individuals to weather the trophic cascade in '033, man was now alone on the planet save for a few extraordinarily hearty microorganisms (in which both the public and the president took an intransigent disinterest). For the better part of the 21st century, the Biologists' Council had adopted the Quixotic motto: "What life? We shall show you!" and articulated their research agendas as pilgrimic quests for new life upon a changed Earth.* It gradually became clear that this asseverance was untenable until finally, in 2109, SL Director of Biological Empiricism Shelton Delangrove declared with some aplomb, "This planet is dead. Until such time as we can get ourselves another one, the future of biological sciences must be a journey inward." And with that, the Delangrove Symposium became a full time job for a legion of grant writers.
Strictly speaking, there was nothing remarkable about the equipment itself other than its size. The principle piece of machinery was a specialized kind of electroencephelogram that fed 144 inputs into a supercomputer known as Slow Gypsy. What made the project unique was that the Biologists Council, being quite unable to secure bodies of any other kind, had elected to experiment upon themselves. Distinguished scholars from every major research institution were hooked all together by sophisticated neural uplink like argonauts of human transcendence. Each isolated a particular variable within himself according to his own theory of pineal or pituitary latency. Together, they lay dead or dreaming within the great hall of the Scientific Legate, closely attended to by buzzardly associates whose pens hissed upon jealously guarded clipboards. In the eyes of these assistants gleamed the dull avarice of one who seeks the immortality of historical distinction and that glower did lend a suffuse light to the furthest corners of the room.
The first few years were steeped in a seemingly quiescent tension until Dr. Heldrick Hobson, his morphine IV having been inappropriately affixed by an incompetent graduate student, came to in a fit of convulsive vomiting and incoherent ravings of a color beyond space wherein the Tetragrammaton laid out a very particular set of instructions for humanity. The immediate specifics of those instructions were lost in a turmoil that became standard format thenceforth. Much of the volume of this turmoil came from Hobson's own team who, over his own geriatric mutterings, insisted that his voyage beyond the material realm had given him weird and supernormal capabilities which promised an untold boon to mankind. Teams of researchers began to awaken their patrons on purpose, begging them for insight and often inventing it where it did not exist. The unsure apprehension in the room evaporated as the true purpose of that intellectual arena was instantaneously and universally realized. Untargeted research was now surely third to rhetoric and second to sabotage. The secretive paranoia had given way to bawdy shouting arguments that amounted to little more than name-calling dressed up in the technical jargon of the day, but provided lucrative publishing deals to the loudest mouths.
While significant, this was the less important precedent set by Hobson's team. Having always understood that no experiment could be scientifically verifiable without a control group against which to measure it, they began the now widely accepted practice of offering up their own children to Slow Gypsy's ports in an attempt to see the effects of their chosen variable upon a tabula rasa. While the moral "stickiness" of forcing a human to go from infancy to morbidity in a state of unconsciousness was considered by the Legate's Ethical Review Board the following January, the matter was deemed best left decided by each individual family. Where the Biologists Council was concerned, there was no quandary. After all, these were men who had pledged their lives in service, and this was for the good of mankind.
*A breakaway sect of biologists known as the Simon Grail Society maintained that the key to Applicable Human Transcendence (AHT) could only be found within our closest relatives: the lower primates. With such vigor did these impassioned visionaries attack the remaining stores of primate test subjects that, within 10 years, every last simian had been vivisected. Simon Grail ultimately disintegrated at the point where it had come to take 10 pages of triplicate forms to obtain sixteen ounces of the remaining primate viscera, necessarily rationed as it was.