“Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life”. – Oscar Wilde
Today’s inventors are often inspired by the world of make-believe. The ones who watched sci-fi and read fantasy books growing up, these “Nerds”, as some would call them, are the foreseers of modern technology. What do I mean by this? Well, let’s take a brief look at history, shall we?
What we use today, all of the things that have now become common-place in our lives, once would have been called “Magic”. Electric light would have been called the work of Satan, flight would have been witchcraft, and let’s not forget modern medicine, in particular surgery, was once said to be a monstrous defilement of the Human body and God.
Believers in such “Magic” would have been called fools, dreamers, and their thoughts would have been deemed impractical and dangerous. Some people were arrested, and even executed for their belief in scientific progress and development of theories and products that could steer us toward a better tomorrow.
In fact, we treat people that way still, although we don’t realize it. Today, we still have the Galileo’s, and Newton’s, and Alexander Bell’s living among us, we just don’t recognize them as such. We refuse to acknowledge potential genius around us, often mocking whimsical ideas as just that. In a way, we are no better than our ancestors when it comes to our open-mindedness about the future.
Think about those you know who enjoy a good fantasy or science fiction filled lifestyle. How are they perceived? We often mock them, say they are losers, wasting time, and that they are living in a childish delusion. However, we couldn’t be further from the truth.
The person who invents the real life time traveling tardis after being a lifelong Doctor Who fan will probably have the last laugh. As I recalled that famous quote earlier, life does indeed imitate art. Those who grew up with fantasy and Science fiction influences are more likely to harness their imagination, and become today’s fearless dreamers…and potential inventors.
I just want to be clear, I’m not really talking to the SharkNato fans here…sorry. I just can’t justify that one as having any significant impact on the betterment of society…. I’ll be it hilarious.
Surely not all ideas will be front-runners, I mean, surely there is no benefit to carrying around radioactive mice, locked inside little poke-prison-balls; little creatures that we force to beat up other little mutant creatures for fun….because, let’s face it , what works in a video game franchise isn’t always practical, besides PETA would never allow it. So Pokémon can keep that particular scenario as pure fiction.
Let’s instead focus on those fiction-inspired, now existing in actual fact, relevant concepts. What I’m referring to in this article, are the ideas dreamt up by talented entrepreneurs who really have and will benefit society.
Think for a moment about Satellites. It is very true, that not every life-altering invention motivated by a book or movie is an outrageous concept, but still, Satellites would not exist if it weren’t for an unassuming magazine article by Arthur C. Clarke in 1945 describing the then fanciful concept of “geostationary satellites” featured in Wireless World. People probably thought he was barking mad, however this article was the gateway for an idea that was born 12 years later by a group of soviet engineers…we remember it as Sputnik.
Did you know that today’s cell phones were actually inspired by the communicator on Star Trek? Oh yes, it’s true! Thanks Captain Kirk! The Star Trek series went on to presage many other inventions too. For instance, the very first home computer, the Altair 8800, was actually named after the ‘Altair Solar System’, featured in a Star Trek episode! Wow, Go Trekies!
So we know what we have, thanks to Science “Fiction”, now we are left to wonder, ‘what could be next?’
How about driver-less cars? We’ve all seen them in films such as I, Robot, and in TV series such as Night Rider, where K.I.T.T. basically ran the show. Now, Google is developing its very own Driver-less car! Perhaps in the next decade we won’t have to worry about driving home after a few drinks at the bar, the car will simply do it all for us, safely.
Hmmm…and force fields? Is playing Halo, ironically in the “Shield World”, on Xbox really that much of a stretch from reality? The answer is no! Apparently, military scientists have been busy experimenting with how to furnish vehicles with mini-force fields for combat on the battlefield. Using supercapacitors, (no, not Flux-capacitors my fellow Back to the Future enthusiasts), which send electrical energy, and a lot of other science mumbo-jumbo, these combat-ready vehicles can employ a temporary shield to lessen the impact of rocket explosions! Cool, huh?!
You see, potential for inventions is all around us, and the truth is, invention only ends where our imaginations do. We just need to look!
In Fact, according to the Smithsonian, here are a few more inventions inspired by science fiction:
The Submarine- invented by Simon Lake after reading Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea in 1870.
The Helicopter- also inspired by a Verne book, Clipper of the Clouds, which inventor Igor Sikorsky had read as a young boy.
Heck, even the first liquid filled rocket, build way back in the 1920s by Robert H. Goddard, was inspired by him reading War of the Worlds!
We can also thank the science fiction and fantasy genre for preluding the use of atomic power!
Therefore, all of the eager-eyed young children reading fiction books, and young adults in their own nostalgia-filled fantasies, filmmakers, dreamers, and doers, I solute you. Keep doing what you do.
Without open minds like yours, we would not have touch screens or laptops, even the screen in which you are reading this on would not exist.
Maybe someday we will simply wave a scanner over a sick patient, in the style of Captain Kirk, and be able to instantly heal appendicitis, cancer, and all other major and minor ailments.
Now only if we can get teleportation to work. Like many of you readers, after a long day at work, it would be awfully nice to teleport to a beach somewhere for an hour or two…. maybe in Fiji, Tahiti, or the Maldives, with tropical drink in hand, (something probably served in a coconut with a little pink umbrella in it)….oh yes! Alas, we can only continue to dream!
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