Over the last century or so we have watched as some amazing history has written itself into the books. We have witnessed the collapse of nations, the installment of new ideas, and the extremely rapid rise of technology. We have watched as much of this new technology came alive from our favorite Science Fiction books, movies, and television shows.
Here are just a few examples of how we’ve seen science fiction become science fact.
In 1966 a new television show took the nation by storm – Star Trek, created by Gene Roddenberry, showed us a glimpse of what the future could hold. The United Federation of Planets not only strove to create peace on a galactic scale, but it did so using some amazing technology. One of these mind-blowing pieces of tech was a hand held, long range communicator. This tiny little idea and prop inspired Martin Cooper’s genius to bring us the invention of the cell phone almost 20 years after the airing of the first episode.
With a book, and years later a movie, we were chilled and slightly terrified by HAL. Created from the mind of Arthur C. Clarke; HAL, a Heuristically programmed Algorithmic computer, was the artificial intelligence that ran an exploratory nuclear vehicle Discovery XD-1 in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Today we have access to our own HAL-inspired personal assistants: Siri and Alexa; although not as terrifying as HAL, they can at times be just as annoying.
We definitely cannot forget one of the most famous, and prolific Science Fiction writers of the 20th century. Publishing books from 1947 to 1987; and a couple after his death in 1988, Robert A. Heinlein delighted audiences with stories of occasionally utopian and often quirky futures. Many of the things we use today, even some we are still looking forward to, came from his pages. Memory foam, hydraulic beds, water beds, (anyone else picking up on a comfort theme here?) and one that’s just about to roll out – the self-driving car.
From Mary Shelly to H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov to Spider Robinson, the ideas of the future born from these writer’s minds have become a part of a history that points us further toward the future. So, remember next time you are watching Travelers, reading Michael Crichton or Larry Niven, not only are you reading Science Fiction, but you are possibly reading about an idea that might end up an everyday part of your life in the not-so-distant future.