Science fiction or science fact?

I’m a big science fiction fan, actually I go so far as to say I am a geek.  I love reading it, I love to talk about it and I especially love watching it.  I am particular fond (I’m going to stop using the word love as I think you all get it by now) of Star Trek. This obsession is a family trait with my father and uncle instilling it into the next Generation!

Being a geek
Simon Pegg, one cool man and one hell of a geek! (Eisenhower Public Library Facebook page)

A Sunday treat was to get to watch either a Star Trek film or an old Doctor Who episode.  In my opinion, Star Trek always had the best gadgets (apart from Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver of course!) and this got me thinking:

How many technologies have actually transitioned over from science fiction to science fact? 

I know we don’t quite have H G Wells’ Time Machine yet (or the hot tub version, much to my disappointment), but there are 5 technologies that sprang off the page and into reality. Some might shock you!

 

Number 5: Satellites

Arthur C Clarke was one of the first men to propose communication through geostationary satellites.
Arthur C Clarke was one of the first men to propose communication through geostationary satellites.

A local man, from Minehead in Somerset, Arthur C Clarke was one of Britain’s best science fiction writer in the post-war years.  He was also one of the most important contributors to the concept of communicating using geostationary satellites and wrote a number of non-friction works on this topic.  To recognise his contribution to the field, the geostationary orbit of a satellite bears his name and is referred to as either the Clarke Orbit or Clarke Belt.


Number 4: Invisibility cloak

Invisibility is a major theme running through sci-fi and pops up all over the place, from H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man to the more modern Hollow Man (and sadly Hollow Man II).  Everyone loves the idea of being invisible!  And now it is a possibility.  HyperStealth Biotechnology has invented an cloak of invisibility, or what they are calling “Quantum Stealth camouflage“.  It works by bending light waves around the material. Far out man!


Number 3: Robots that can think

Isaac Asimov made a scary reality out of robots that could learn and think for themselves in “I,Robot”.

Isaac Asimov.  A man who knew science and loved writing about it (in his life time he published over 500 books of both fiction and non fiction)
Isaac Asimov. A man who knew science and loved writing about it (in his life time he published over 500 books of both fiction and non fiction)

However, I’m glad that this did not put scientists off from creating something truly magical.  HERB, the Home Exploring Robot Butler, is a new invention that has been developed to test out code designed to preform challenging manipulation tasks in the home and work place.  Also he seems to like Oreo cookies as well.

 


Number 2: Holodeck

Star Trek's crew often hungout on their holodeck
Star Trek’s crew often hungout on their holodeck

Computer gaming is becoming more and more complex with cutting edge technologies becoming commonplace in the gaming world.  The next new thing from Microsoft, well they have the patent for it anyway, is a Holodeck.  We are one step closer to a virtual world and never having to leave the house again! Not always the key to a happy life, or a good film, in the sci-fi realm.


Number 1: Flying cars

The next flying cars might be a little more refined than this one!
The next flying cars might be a little more refined than this one!

The idea of flying around in a car has always appealed to me, maybe it’s because of my terrible driving skills or maybe it’s because the Jetsons looked so darn cool.  And by 2015 this will be a reality, although it will be an expensive reality (a girl can dream!).  Terrafugia will be producing a flying car which is part sedan, part private jet with wings that will neatly fold away so it can be driven like a car.


Pretty cool huh?!  All this gives me hope that in the future I will be able to have my own sonic screwdriver, or even a TARDIS!

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About KT Cooper

I’m a carbonate biogeochemist. When I’m not in the Bahamas, I dabble in the world of computer modelling.

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