Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Real Science Fiction

I enjoy reading and writing science fiction stories. What I find most interesting about them is how the “science” depicted holds up over the years. For the umpteenth time, I just finished reading War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. In this story of Martians invading Earth, written in 1895, Wells describes the alien creatures using a “heat ray” to cow humanity into submission. My family bought a microwave oven somewhere around 1975, the latest way to cook a fast meal. Microwaves could easily fall under the auspices of heat rays. So can sunlight and lasers, of course.
 
Four excellent examples of devices eventually created based on their science fiction equivalents are from the Original Star Trek television series: the Communicator, or cell phone, the Tricorder, or MRI, the Padd, or tablet computer, and the Data Cartridge, or removable solid state computer hard drive.
 
The teleporter or transporter has been dreamt of for many years. Quantum teleportation is a real science these days involving the study of entangled protons. Sounds deep, doesn’t it? Well, just the discovery of how to make the light bulb was pretty deep. It took Thomas Edison over a thousand of attempts to get it working. I predict that some form of useful teleportation will be invented during my lifetime.
 
Science fiction predicts many technological achievements. A writer dreams it up, a tinkerer eventually creates it. That’s another reason I love to write about fictional devices – I’m not smart enough to build them myself.
 

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