Science Fiction to Science Fact, this article looks at some of the amazing developments from creative minds, to something you can pick up and use today.
So what science fiction can you use today and potentially extend yourself?
Merriam-Webster defines etymology as “Etymon means “origin of a word” in Latin, and comes from the Greek word etymon, meaning “literal meaning of a word according to its origin.”“
Knowing some of the history of a thing can explain how we got here and where it might go in the future.
Star Trek, Star Wars and Comic Books
Ignoring the flashy graphics and over the top space battles where the laws of physics are often ignored, science fiction has served as a source of much inspiration.
Iron Man appeared March 1963 and got his first comic in 1968. Star Trek first appeared in September 1966. Star Wars in 1977. There are countless other science fiction sources.
For example I picked these specific titles for their mainstream appeal.
As a source for sparking the imagination they have helped explore the creative imagination of many engineers from many different disciplines.
Reality is often less fun than the science fiction they depict. Star Trek currently suffers battles over copyright, publishing rights, actors fees and timelines. Despite this the universe originally conceived by Gene Roddenberry has served as a catalyst for sparking many ideas.
Science Fiction to Science Fact – The States of Matter
When I first studied science I was taught the three classic states of matter, solid, liquid and gas. I later became aware of the 4th state, plasma.
However, a short while later, that all got changed again when you added in things like liquid crystals (in a lot of wrist watches) and non-Newtonian fluids
So with plasma becoming more attainable due to modern material sciences and the ability to work with higher temperatures and stronger magnetic control, we have projects such as ITER
It has a very ambitious timeline.
Science Fiction to Science Fact : Star Trek impulse engines are fusion based.
We need more power!
Next up consider Iron Man. Iron Man first appeared in March 1963 and got his first comic in 1968, but only came out as a movie in 2008.
His chest plate… a miniaturized Arc Reactor.
Science Fiction to Science Fact: In 2014, MIT declared a plan for a real ARC reactor
Science Fiction to Science Fact – Material science
As can be seen in that last video, improvements in material science mean engineers can achieve more with far less.
In Star Trek, dilithium crystals powered the warp core.
Science Fiction to Science Fact: Real dilithium exists
Technically Carbon Fiber can be dated back to Thomas Edison in 1879 when he baked cotton threads or bamboo slivers at high temperatures.
Consequently here is an example of steel vs. carbon fiber. The material is lighter and stronger.
Moreover material scientists are experimenting with Carbon nanotubes since 1991 making it increasingly more usable in daily life.
In 1945, microwave ovens became a reality. Percy Spencer’s invention gave rise to home experimentation. So much so, that people can now also generate plasma at home! Science creating grade A idiot experiments. Do not try this at home!
Furthermore it’s not just making things very hot, it’s also possible to make things very cold, including solid Nitrogen.
3D Mapping Tools
In the science fiction movie Prometheus a Pup is a 3D mapping tool.
Hobby drones can carry 0.3 to 2kg while the average carrying capacity for professional drones are 20 to 220kg.
Furthermore laser measuring tools are not science fiction, they’re science fact. One example weighs 113g and has a range of 100m.
Next throw in a raspberry Pi to the mix and you have network connectivity and processing power of the data, with only adding 43g.
The device like a hand held radio enabled the famous “Beam me up Scotty line” from many an episode of Star Trek.
Professional rugby players can wear Viper Pods which fit in between their shoulder blades, providing GPS positioning, heart rate monitoring, accelerator and gyroscope data.
Science Fiction to Science Fact. Star Trek (2009). The bridge crew declare: “Captain Robau’s heart rate is elevated”. He could legitimately be wearing a version of the viper pod in his suit.
Furthermore if you “position” the technology between the shoulder blades, you could store a mobile phone type device in there capable of cellular communications.
Consequently a bluetooth comm badge on the front of the suit, connecting to the mobile on your back and throw in a little speech recognition, like Bixby, Siri, Cortana or Alexa, and
Science Fiction to Science Fact: Tap your chest, shout out “Captain to Mr. Spock” and a conversation starts becomes very possible!
Equally, it’s really hard not to see the similarity in flip phone to a Star Trek: The Original Series communicator.
Science Fiction to Science Fact – The Sum of Human Knowledge
The Altruism of Star Trek
Star Fleet, the heart of Star Trike is not supposed to be military. This is despite recent movies attempts to depict different.
As the founder Gene himself wrote:
Starfleet is not a military organisation. It is a scientific research and diplomatic body.
Although the duties of the Enterprise may include some military responsibilities, the primary purpose of the Enterprise — as with all Starfleet vessels is to expand the body of human knowledge.
So how might we embrace this original approach and get back to that inspiring vision?
- First up, the computer, voiced predominantly by Majel Barrett wife of Gene Roddenberry, was called LCARS (Library Computer Access and Retrieval System)
- Also LCARS was accessible through PADDs (Personal Access Display Devices)
- The Daystrom Institute is The Starfleet Institute of Technology, which fed advanced research.
Wikipedia co-founder, Jimmy Wales, is famously quoted as asking us to: “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge”.
Delivering on the dream
WhereWeLearn expands upon the original focus of Star Fleet,
- to expand the body of human knowledge and
- in addition, enable everyone reach their potential independent capability to go where no one has gone before.
WhereWeLearn also delivers against these science fiction dreams to being usable science fact
- Firstly, enabling the power of SpeechSynthesis, the engine can read data to you.
- Try any lesson on WhereWeLearn through an LCARS interface on any internet enabled device (iPad, smart phone, computer, etc) with a browser
- Moreover by working on any mobile device, you have the body of human knowledge in your pocket as the entire internet of knowledge is available.
Why not build your own LCARS interface?
From Science Fiction to Science Fact…