Science fiction writers have always been great visionaries. A lot of the technologies we take for granted today, were dreamed up by science fiction writers before anyone else. There are many devices and technologies today that in a way show that we are already living in a sci-fi world. Let’s look at some such inventions that were born through science fiction.
10. The Atomic Bomb:
H.G. Wells wrote about an atomic bomb in 1914, 30 years before the first tests. In his book, “The World Set Free”
he discuses the possibility of an atomic bomb. He had basic knowledge of particle physics and he understood that it could be used to create a weapon. He even predicted that the area where an atomic bomb had exploded would be inhospitable for many years.
9. The Internet:
Mark Twain of all people described the concept of an internet in his sci-fi story, “From the ‘London Times’ of 1904”. In this story he described a telephone network called, ‘telectroscope’ which allowed the world to connect audibly and discuss the daily events of everyday. It is impressive because he wrote the story in 1898.
Hugo Gernback wrote “Ralph 124C 41+” in 1911 in which he described many technologies that we use today. He described, solar panels, remote control television, tape recorders and the radar. It is incredible in how detail he described how a radar would work using pulsating waves in the ether. He even had a drawing of a radar that looks eerily like the one used by ships today.
In 1968, Arthur C. Clark wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey” in which he described a device called the ‘newspad’ which could deliver ‘electronic papers’ right on the handheld device. Not only was the idea of a tablet not known yet, online newspapers hadn’t even been formed.
6. Flip Phones and Bluetooth:
Flip phones hadn’t been invented in 1966, mobile phones hadn’t been invented either but in Star Trek the crew had a communicator that they could use to communicate with the ship. It even had signal problems as often as mobile phones did early on. It is amazing that they came up with the flip design when the first mobile phones were based on the brick design. They even had Bluetooth headsets that were used to communicate.
5. Credit Cards:
Looking Backwards is a novel by Edward Bellamy from 1888. At that time the idea of credit was limited to local customers of a small shop who happened to know the shop owner. But Bellamy came up with the idea of a credit card that could be used for shopping including the double receipt system. He even described international transactions using the credit card.
4. Invisibility Cloak:
The invisibility cloak might be more of a fantasy genre item than a sci-fi item but it has been used by sci-fi writers as well. What’s interesting is that it is about to come true. Invisibility cloaks are being developed and they have made a lot of development in recent years. In a few years time we might have a fully functional invisibility cloak. But I don’t think they’d let us buy one and probably keep it for military use.
A staple of science fiction has been the artificial machine robot that has no soul and takes over the humans who created it. This idea was so cool that people started working on developing robots and we’ve reached great progress in recent years. It is an obvious evolution of the industrialization age where machines were made to do specific tasks. The next step had to be machines that could be told to do any number of tasks just like a human. We are not completely there yet but we are close.
2. Mind Control:
Telepathic control of machines is possible today and is being used to help handicapped people to control machine body parts directly using their minds. A lot of research has been done in this area and there are video games that you can play with your mind. There is a wheelchair that you can drive with your mind. All types of mind control technologies are coming true. It’s just a matter of time before we can control minds of other humans.
1. Virtual Reality:
Arthur C. Clark wrote about virtual reality in 1958 in his novel, “The City and the Stars” in which on an alien planet a city called Diaspar is run completely by computers and humans live for 1000 years when their essence is stored in memory for them to be reborn again. They live in a virtual reality which feels, looks, smells real, sort of like the matrix. Well we are not completely there but already great progress has been made in virtual reality games. We already have virtual worlds such as SecondLife and the technology to immerse us completely into it is developing.