Technology flies out of our imagination
BY 花消英气 from 21st Century
Published 2022-08-04

Sometimes it takes a work of art to give the inspiration for advances in science. For example, Elon Musk’s dream of humans living on other planets was first inspired by Isaac Asimov’s Foundation book series. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is similarly a massive fan of the Star Trek television series. The series inspired him to found his very own space company Blue Origin, according to Forbes magazine.

Let’s explore some of the technologies from science fiction that have been brought to life.

Remote control

Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel Dune features a small flying robot device that is piloted remotely, one of the earliest appearances of drones in science fiction. With the first permit for commercial drone use in the US given in 2006, drones became a reality, and can now be found taking on multiple roles. They provide new angles for photography, help farmers maintain their crops and are used in the military.

Jeff Bezos has even supported the use of drones to deliver packages for his company Amazon, unveiling a delivery drone back in 2019.

From thin air

The television show Star Trek, first appearing on screens in 1966, inspired science. One of the most unexpected examples may be the 3D printer. In the program, a device can create any object desired within a matter of seconds.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, US, developed a 3D printer in 2019 that shapes objects using rays of light. They have named the printer the “replicator”, the same name as the device in the program to show their inspiration. The device uses light to alter the density of resin, changing the material from a liquid to a solid in order to shape the desired object.

Starting the heart

One of the first sci-fi novels, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley has had a huge impact on science. Earl Bakken, the inventor of the pacemaker, a device placed into the chest that helps the heart to pump blood using small electrical impulses, was inspired by the 1931 movie adaptation of the book. “What intrigued me the most … was the creative spark of Dr Frankenstein’s electricity,” Bakken told the Atlantic.

Defibrillators, which restart the heart with an electrical current after a cardiac arrest, also resemble the electric shock that gave the monster life.

(Translator & Editor: Li Xinzhu AND Luo Sitian)
Drones  无人机
Unveiling  公开
Rays  光线
Density  密度
Resin  树脂
Pacemaker  起搏器
Impulses  脉冲
Defibrillators  除颤仪
Cardiac arrest  心脏骤停