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Science fiction and technology: a student project


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A student in the neighborhood here has asked me to counsel him regarding his senior project. He's writing a novel that "explores how science fiction and fantasy have affected modern technology and vice versa."

It's an odd theme, and I'm not sure I have much to tell him that will be helpful.

Does it bring to your mind any good ideas as far as reading material, or movies to watch, that would be inspiring and thought provoking?

Can you think of any cases in which a sci-fi film has influenced technology?

On the "vice vera" note, I remember reading a few articles about the interesting process Spielberg used to design his futuristic world for Minority Report. He met with a group of people who were artists, technology experts, and visionaries who could help him dream up believable advances in technology.

But I'm having a hard time coming up with other ideas....

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Hmmm. Arthur C. Clarke comes to mind, but I can't put my finger on anything specific that worked in either direction in his work.

It might be interesting to look at some of those 50s space operas and compare what space suits looked like in those with how they turned out to be.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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Darrel Manson wrote:

: Hmmm. Arthur C. Clarke comes to mind, but I can't put my finger on anything specific that worked

: in either direction in his work.

I believe Clarke predicted the facilitation of global communications by orbital satellites years before anyone had launched any rockets into space, but I can't recall if that was in a technical paper or in a story.

I also recall reading Childhood's End years ago and being struck by the fact that the aliens who come to Earth show the humans how to send images over their phone lines, or something like that -- in other words, FAX MACHINES FROM SPAAAAAACE!!

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Can you think of any cases in which a sci-fi film has influenced technology?

I was watching a special about on-line technologies and the interviewee referred to an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (yes, I realize it's not a movie) that inspired him to begin investigating the possibility of creating massive databases of music that users could access from a their computers.

Which, of course, are everywhere these days.

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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There's a documentary called "How William Shatner Changed the World" that talks about how Star Trek inspired a lot of big technical advances -- for example, the guy who invented the cell phone admits that he was inspired by the handheld communicator from the original Star Trek.

Arthur C Clarke, aside from writing 2001, 2010, Rendezvous with Rama, and a lot of other really good sci-fi, also invented the geostationary satellite. He put forth the idea in an opinion piece called "Extra-Terrestrial Relays."

Isaac Asimov wrote a great many books that essentially explained science in layman's terms.

Jerry Pournelle used to work for the Department of Defense during the cold war. From what I understand a great many hard SF/military SF writers during that time did. He also created the Pournelle chart which he put forth as the most accurate way to measure political belief. Wikipedia states he created this in 1963 -- it looks a lot like the grids you see in a lot of web tests these days.

Larry Niven's Ringworld is considered semi-seriously in some scientific circles, not necessarily as something that could be built, but as a very plausible explanation of what such a structure would be like if it somehow were. Of course it was influenced by the Dyson sphere...

Robert Heinlein may have invented the mass driver in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I can't think of anything earlier than that, but I don't know for certain.

Oh, also, Philip K. Dick gave some guy an idea for a movie about Harrison Ford hunting down robots. :)

It had a face like Robert Tilton's -- without the horns.

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

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The Baptist Death Ray wrote:

: Arthur C Clarke, aside from writing 2001, 2010, Rendezvous with Rama, and a lot of other really

: good sci-fi, also invented the geostationary satellite. He put forth the idea in an opinion piece

: called "Extra-Terrestrial Relays."

That sounds like what I was referring to a couple posts above -- but if it was only an opinion piece, then it may be "science", but it isn't "fiction".

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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