Science fiction often introduces us to the fictional worlds of the future, seemingly nothing more than the fantasy of their creators. However, in the last 100 years, mankind has achieved incredible technological progress, and science fiction, which is practically a bottomless generator of new ideas, has played a significant role in it. In fact, many things of what was first shown or told in films and books eventually became a part of our present. Of course, some of the things described there are still at an early stage of actual development, as some science has simply not reached the necessary level yet, but there are many examples of already implemented ideas from science fiction technologies.
We will talk about 15 science fiction technologies, first predicted and described by the authors of popular science stories, and then implemented in our modern world.
Prediction of NASA Moon Landing
1. In 1865, the author of the novel “From the Earth to the Moon,” by Jules Verne, wrote about the first man’s journey to the Moon. Some of the events and details described in the book surprisingly coincide with the real mission of landing a man on the Moon, which happened only 104 years later.
The sending of real astronauts by the NASA aerospace agency to the Moon, like the characters in the novel, took place in Florida. The command module of the NASA spacecraft was called “Columbia,” and the fictional spacecraft in the novel was consonant with the “Columbiad.”
NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin made a successful walk on the lunar surface in 1969 (the third crew member Michael Collins remained on the ship). But the three heroes of the novel did not step on the moon’s surface.
NASA itself admits that there were other similarities between the novel and the real Apollo 11 mission. For example, the space agency notes that the shape and size of the fictional Columbia spacecraft are similar to those of the Apollo mission spacecraft.
In the novel, it was also described that people could monitor the progress of the Columbiad mission with a ground-based telescope. When in 1970 there was a serious accident with the Apollo 13, the telescope of the Johnson Space Center was following the device, which was 300,000 kilometers away.
Real Science Fiction Technologies in Star Trek 1960s
2. First shown in 1966, the famous communicator from “Star Trek” looked like a folding phone. Despite the fact that in reality, engineers had been developing it since the 1960s, Motorola introduced the first mobile phone only in 1973.
10 years later, in 1983, Motorola mobiles entered the market. The devices were large, heavy and very expensive, but the American company continued to improve the technology over the following years. The first folding mobile phone was introduced by Motorola in 1989, and it looked like the very communicator from “Star Trek.”
A few years ago, The Wand Company created a modern “communicator” replica. The device, introduced in 2015, has an aluminum case and uses wireless charging technology. It also has some Bluetooth functions, and some phrases that were heard in the “Star Trek” series are stored in its memory.
3. Science fiction technologies have been telling us about three-dimensional holograms for decades. Princess Leia, through the holographic message system, asked Obi-Wan Kenobi for help back in the 1977 film. Since then, various companies have tried to translate this technology into reality.
In 2017, an Australian startup named Euclideon presented the multiplayer holographic table, very similar to the one that was shown in the original “Star Wars” film universe. True, instead of chess, it is intended for work. Using special glasses, four people can interact with holograms created on its surface. Despite the fact that the invention of Euclideon as a whole was received with a great deal of skepticism, in November 2018, various media reported that the company was going to bring its holographic technologies to the consumer market.
4. “Star Trek” is proved to be one of the most valuable sources in terms of ideas of futuristic technologies. In addition to the communicator, we were also shown a 3D printer capable of creating food, as well as various everyday objects.
At the same point, it is worth adding that many companies are now developing consumer versions of 3D printers for food production.
Iron Man in real life
5. Iron Man’s costume became instantly one of the iconic science fiction technologies with the release of the very first Marvel Comics release. In reality, people will move in flying suits not soon, however, some features of high-tech Tony Stark’s armor can be offered to the US military in the near future.
The US Army is developing a program TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit) – a robotic exoskeleton for special forces that can improve human capabilities on the battlefield. For example, in addition to high-tech armor, TALOS is equipped with a special system of continuous monitoring of the environment, receiving information from flying drones, as well as surface and ground tracking and reconnaissance equipment.
The suit will be light, but at the same time very durable and equipped with life support systems that will monitor the vital signs of the soldier. In addition, TALOS will have a three-dimensional audio monitoring system to help personnel determine the direction of the approaching enemy equipment. According to the Military Times, the beginning of the tests of the TALOS exoskeleton may begin in the summer of 2019.
6. In another sci-fi novel by Jules Verne, “20 thousand leagues under the water,” published in 1870, the fully electrified submarine “Nautilus” is described. In reality, at that time, the submarines already existed but were mechanical.
A year after the novel was publically presented, the experimental French submarine “Gymnote” was launched. It used an electric powerplant and was more like Verne’s “Nautilus” than submarines that had been created before the novel was published.
Rosalind Williams, a technology historian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, noted in an interview with National Geographic that the Nautilus is not really very different from modern submarines, for example, the Alvina bathyscaphe, launched in the 1960s and working on lead-acid batteries.
7. Jules Verne also predicted that people would one day listen to the news, and not just read them in the newspapers. He made his prediction in 1889, but the first broadcast took place not earlier than in the 1920s.
People could watch the first news release on television only 30 years after the first broadcast.
8. In the dystopian novel “On the brave new world” by Aldous Huxley, written in 1931, he described some drugs that change a person’s mood and act as modern antidepressants. Two decades after the book was published, scientists began developing real antidepressants.
In the novel, almost all people used the drugs because they helped in solving many psychological problems. In reality, for the first time, the connection between depression and brain functions was discovered by scientists only in 1951. A group of physicians from New York discovered unexpected changes in the mood and behavior of patients with tuberculosis after they began taking a drug called Iproniazid. People suffering severe pains suddenly became happy. Three years after this study, scientists from North Carolina observed the opposite effect in patients who were given the drug Raudixin, designed to control blood pressure.
Scientists quickly came to the conclusion that there is a connection between depression and brain work and began developing drugs to help in coping with the state of oppression and apathy. Since then, millions of Americans have become addicted to antidepressants. For example, one of the most popular, approved for sale in 1998, is Prozac.
9. In the novel “The World Set Free” by HG Wells, written in 1914, a hand-made uranium grant, “capable of endlessly exploding,” is mentioned. Three decades after the release of the book, the United States launched two nuclear strikes on Japan – the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Describing the principle of operation of the first atomic bomb, Wells even clarified in his book that it would be dropped from an aircraft and was horrified by how destructive nuclear weapons could be. In the “World Set Free,” atomic bombs were used during the ongoing war. On the ruins of a new, “liberated world,” the survivors created a world government, striving for unity and opposition to possible future wars.
The “Smithsonian” magazine stated that the atomic bomb presented in the novel was significantly different from those used in World War II.
Animated Sitcoms and Science Fiction Technologies
10. In the fantastic animated series “The Jetsons,” released in 1962, a high-tech clock with a display showing color video was shown. For example, the youngest son of the family, Elroy Jetson, liked to watch the TV series “The Flintstones” and communicate with other family members through them. Some functions that were shown in the series present in modern smartwatches. Yes, we don’t watch TV programs with these devices, but we can use them for phone calls, viewing photos and monitoring our health.
Several other science fiction technologies are shown in “The Jetsons” also appeared in the real world only a few decades after the show ended. We are talking about drones and holograms.
11. Nuclear physicist Jack Cover developed the first taser in the 1970s. He called the device a “taser” in honor of one of the inventions of Tom Swift (the hero of the same-name book series and the ingenious inventor) – an electric rifle with features similar to those found in modern tasers.
A cover set out to create the taser after a thundering series of aircraft was captured in the 1960s. The scientist wanted the air marshals present on each flight to use such weapons to neutralize the terrorists that would be, at the same time, with minimal risk to passengers. Now, tasers are also used by the police.
In recent years, these devices have been seriously criticized by medical professionals. The latter says that tasers can provoke heart attacks.
12. Video calls in our time are most often made through programs such as Skype, Whatsapp, and Facebook, but the technology was demonstrated in science fiction long before the first of such services appeared. For example, one of the earliest references to this technology can be found in the 1927 film “Metropolis,” which showed the analog of a videophone mounted in a wall. The hero of “Metropolis” used four different dials in order to find the desired frequency and make a call.
Over time, science fiction technologies such as video call technology became more and more advanced. For example, in the 1968 film “2001: A Space Odyssey” of Kubrick, video calls were made by entering a number on the keypad embedded in a large telephone set. And in the 1989 film “Back to the Future II,” video call systems could display information about a person with whom the conversation took place: a favorite drink, a hobby, family status, and so on.
13. The term “credit card” was used for the first time in the 1887 novel by Edward Bellamy.
The protagonist of the novel falls asleep in 1887 and wakes up after 113 years, later learning that his homeland had become a socialist utopia. At that time, the image of a credit card, with which one could pay for a product or transfer money from one account to another, was perceived as science fiction. However, Bellamy very accurately predicted the principle of operation of such cards, describing even the possibility of using them abroad.
These universal credit cards first appeared only in 1950 in the United States. In the daily routine of the American society, they began to be used only a few years later.
14. In the 1953 novel “451 degrees Fahrenheit,” Ray Bradbury wrote about “shells,” tiny radio receivers with the functions of modern Bluetooth devices (headphones and headsets). Today, millions of people around the world listen to music and receive calls to wireless AirPods.
In addition, the novel describes many other things that have entered our daily life. For example, it describes how people communicate with their friends through certain digital walls that have some similarities with current social platforms, such as Facebook.
15. Science fiction author Isaac Asimov, after visiting the electronics exhibition World’s Fair in 1965, predicted the dawn of cars with “robotic brains”. 50 years later, companies like Waymo (and many others) began developing and testing their unmanned vehicles.
In his article in the New York Times, Asimov suggested that the “World’s Fair” could be changed 50 years later.