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Science Fiction into Science Fact?

Cliff posted more than 12 years ago | from the our-imaginations-turned-into-reality dept.

Science 892

Selanit asks: "I'm a student of English literature at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, with a pronounced interest in all things tech as well. Next term I'll be taking an Independent Study course which combines the two -- the topic will be 'Influences of Science Fiction on Real-World Tech.' The professor and I are still trying to assemble a reading list. So here's my question: what science-fiction novels have had a particularly noticeable effect on the development of technology? I'm mainly interested in books that have been written since World War II. The line of inquiry is not limited to computers; any kind of link between sci-fi and hard tech will do (e.g. Cap'n Kirk's communicator == prototype mobile phone). Books that have lent a name to a technology are also interesting (like the 'Little-Endian, Big-Endian' terms which were lifted from Gulliver's Travels, or 'Babel Fish' from Douglas Adams)."

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ACC (2, Insightful)

Debillitatus (532722) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614432)

I've heard it said that Arthur C. Clarke had the idea for geosynchronous satellites, and wrote about them in a few of his novels.

patent on satellites (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614550)

Arthur C. Clarke had the idea for geosynchronous satellites

If I understand correctly, his description was so good that he actually has a patent on the darn things.

Re:ACC (1)

jmauro (32523) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614593)

Arthur C. Clarke did not talk about satellites in his novels per say but in an article in 1945. He later wrote about it in a non-fiction book called "Profiles of the Future". Which was funny to read the revised edition because he basicly says this chapter is no longer the future since we already have these satellites.

Neuromancer (1)

gimple (152864) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614438)

I am sure others will list more from this work, but there is a really interesting passage that describes inter-networking as a wasp's nest.

The Pain Amplifier (3, Funny)

imrdkl (302224) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614440)

From (old) Star Trek and (by reference) Dune equates easily to my cube at work.

Put Your Hand In The Box (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2614514)

"Put your hand in the box."
"What's in the box?"
"Pain."

Yep, that pretty much describes my cube at work, except it's not just my hand, but rather my whole body that ends up hurting at the end of the day. Damn you, cheap furniture and crappy lighting! Damn you all to hell!

;-)

Snow Crash (2, Insightful)

Strange_Attractor (160407) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614443)

I've read (I believe here on /.) that many Silicon Valley companies gave that to employees and said "this is what we're aiming for", especially referring to his vision of the Metaverse. This was before the bubble popped, of course .

Re:Snow Crash (2)

Eimi Metamorphoumai (18738) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614531)

He's also the first one to use the term "avatar" in that context.

Re:Snow Crash (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614560)

"Metaverse" was an idea that was around before snow crash. Although he may have coined the term metaverse. Doubtfull though.

Re:Snow Crash (1)

Organic_Info (208739) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614607)

I also (highly) recommend Cryptonomicon also by Neal Stephenson for some good insights into technology use, cryptography, WW2 and plenty of other topics - I also recall a major part of the story concerns Digital Data Havens + associated topics.

Its a long book but nearly every page is worth the read. Gets 10/10 from me.
.

Cyberspace (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614444)

That term was coined by William Gibson in one of his stories. I'm sure someone knows which story it was.

Re:Cyberspace (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2614491)

I think you're referring to Neuromancer, which IIRC was his first novel. He also coined the phrase "jack in", which FASA co-opted for its "Shadowrun" RPG.

Homosexual: Dead at Age 25 (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614447)


I just heard a report that a homosexual was found today dead in his home somewhere. Nobody really cared that he was found dead. Apparently, he has been there for weeks and no body noticed. One of his neighbors was quoted as saying:

"I thought there was a strange smell coming from his house, but I just figured it was one of those candles those homos like so much. I don't really care that he died, maybe that will keep his little dog quiet. Well, I am off to celebrate, now that there is one less faggot in the world."

I am sure that no one (except JonKatz) at slashdot will miss him. As he has contributed nothing but the further spread of AIDS in society.

FP!!!!! W00T! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2614449)

PH33R M3 L4M3RZ!

Eh (0, Flamebait)

XPulga (1242) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614450)

Do your own assigment.

Re:Eh (1)

SquierStrat (42516) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614495)

It's not an assignment, it's setting up a reading list so that he may eventually have an assignment! Read the article!

Re:Eh (-1)

Wil Wheaton (532837) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614532)

Go crawl back under your bridge, troll.

Heinlein invented waldoes (3, Interesting)

typical geek (261980) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614453)

remote control arms used to work with nuclear and hazardous material. I think it's in a short story though.

Re:Heinlein invented waldoes (2, Informative)

Capitalist1 (127579) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614579)

It's in a story called "Waldo", and the book as it sits on shelves will most likely be "Waldo & Magic, Inc.".

Heinlein invents the waterbed... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2614455)

Read some of the early Heinlein. He invents a lot of stuff, well before it's time. The waterbed, I believe was just one of the things in a long line... :-)

Re:Heinlein invents the waterbed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2614480)

He also gave the Waldo it's name.

Roll out one of the masters (3, Insightful)

LittleGuy (267282) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614456)

Jules Verne, from "20,000 Leagues" to "From the Earth to the Moon".

The Forever War (2)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614461)

"The Forever War" by Joseph Haldeman has an interesting bit on cloning.

---Spoiler---

Towards the end, which is several thousand years in the future, almost everyone is a clone, and it tells a bit about how this affects the world.

He also really plays with the einstein-rosen bridge (worm hole) quite a bit.

Its not a ton of stuff, but its a -great- read regardless ;-)

Also, although its been probably written 20 times by the time I write this, Asimov is often credited with inventing the term "robot".

THANKING YOU FOR APPLYING THAT +2 TO YOUR POST!!!! (-1)

Linux_Fag (538327) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614509)

YAY for LINUX!!!

Robots (2)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614541)

Also, although its been probably written 20 times by the time I write this, Asimov is often credited with inventing the term "robot".

If so, he is credited incorrectly. For the term "robot," try Lem instead. Asimov is known for "the three laws of robotics" which, IIRC, were actually devised by Campbell

-- MarkusQ

The term Robot (1)

Yurian (164643) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614542)

Just on that last bit - Asimov may have popularized "robot" in its current sense, but he didn't invent the word - he says so himself in a few of his introductions.
Its originally from a Czechslovakian play written around 1900 or so. It means "slave"/"menial worker" in Czech.

Horrah for pointless asides.

'Robot' not Asimov. (4, Insightful)

mahlen (6997) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614564)

From dictionary.com:

Word History: Robot is a word that is both a coinage by an individual person and a borrowing. It has been in English since 1923 when the Czech writer Karel Capek's play R.U.R. was translated into English and presented in London and New York. R.U.R., published in 1921, is an abbreviation of Rossum's
Universal Robots; robot itself comes from Czech robota, "servitude, forced labor," from rab, "slave." The Slavic root behind robota is orb-,
from the Indo-European root *orbh-, referring to separation from one's group or passing out of one sphere of ownership into another. This seems to be the sense that binds together its somewhat
diverse group of derivatives, which includes Greek orphanos, "orphan," Latin orbus, "orphaned," and German Erbe, "inheritance," in addition to the
Slavic word for slave mentioned above. Czech robota is also similar to another German derivative of this root, namely Arbeit, "work" (its Middle High German form arabeit
is even more like the Czech word).
Arbeit may be descended from a word that meant "slave labor," and later generalized to just "labor."

mahlen

If I want your opinion, I'll ask you to fill out the necessary form.

Re:The Forever War (2)

Si (9816) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614577)

Karel Capek (sorry, can't do weird diacritical marks here) invented the term robot, from the Czech word for 'worker'.

Robots: Czech (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614587)

IIRC, "Robot" is Czech for "Worker". The first work to use "robot" in the mechanical man context was "RUR"

Re:The Forever War (1)

motek (179836) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614598)

The word has been coined by a Czech (not Czechoslovakian for the dumb ones who don't feel the difference) author Karel Capek: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/people/karel_ca pek/

-m-

20000 Leagues Under the Sea (5, Insightful)

v3rb (239648) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614462)

Jules Verne wrote about nuclear submarines a long time before their invention. Even though this is not your typical "science fiction" book it did have an influence on people.

Asimov (2, Insightful)

FireCar (522036) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614465)

I know that this is the obvious thing to say, but hell, Isaac Asimov would be a great start in reading on things. His stories not only deal with technology, but how technology can get the better of us. As in the story where everyone depends on calculators and doing math by hand is revolutionary (sorry if I forgot the name). He not only shows us where we can go, but also where not to go.

Re:Asimov (2, Informative)

deepsky (11076) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614518)

In Asimov's Second Foundation (1953) there is the "Transcriber". Now known as "voice recognition"!

Re:Asimov (1)

Yurian (164643) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614590)

As in the story where everyone depends on calculators, and doing math by hand is revolutionary (sorry if I forgot the name). Its called "The Feeling of Power", I think. It included in several of his collections. He originally wrote it as a joke, but it now has a grain of truth to it.

1984 (3, Redundant)

Snar Bloot (324250) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614466)

Seriously. 1984.

Re:1984 (1)

ChazeFroy (51595) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614578)

Also "Brave New World," at least to a certain extent.

Re:1984 (1)

easter1916 (452058) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614600)

Substitute Prozac for Soma, true indeed.

The Man Who Sold The Moon - Heinlein (2, Informative)

doubleyou (89602) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614467)

Heinlein was writing stories about going to the moon way before we actually did it. And as far as realism goes, he was pretty close to the mark (as opposed to say, Jules Verne, who also wrote about going to the moon, but wasn't quite as informed).

Jules Verne (2)

GrEp (89884) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614469)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, rockets to the moon,... Jules Verne has to be the most visionary science fiction writer I can think of in recent history. Assimov and friends will take his place soon, but I don't think our tech has advanced far enough yet for that.

How about Asimov's Robots/AI? (2, Interesting)

metlin (258108) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614472)

Although some things stated by Asimov are quite out of this world, we _are_ having a lot of robotics going on around us, in some form of automation or the other.

Sony's Aibo, cars & washing machines with computers built into them, automated support systems, expert systems (before someone yells that these things are not widely used in the industry, I'd like to let them know that I'm in the support industry working on automated-support query solving agents). And what about bots which crawl the web and gather data.

We could go on and on, the basic fact is that although things like Daneel (or for that matter Marvin ;-) are not yet here, robotics and AI is a fast advancing field. Sure, no fancy AI taking over the world tomorrow, but the technology is so subtle that we do not notice it, or even if we do, not pay much attention to it.

Re:How about Asimov's Robots/AI? (-1)

Wil Wheaton (532837) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614576)

>> automated support systems, expert systems

THESE THINGS ARE NOT WIDELY USED IN THE INDUSTRY, YOU STUPID FUCK!

Terminology more than fact... (4, Insightful)

wrinkledshirt (228541) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614473)

I think Sci-Fi has had less to do with bringing about certain technologies (still waiting on my ansible) than it has on coining terms that have been applied to technologies.

For instance, look at Neuromancer. It gave us the term "Cyberspace", which was cool, but then tried to convince us of a guy running around trying to fence one-megabyte ram sticks. Talk about dystopian...

Gargoyles (1)

conraduno (91482) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614474)

Gargoyles - ok, this might be a more obscure reference. But the gargoyles from Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash have definately helped define the wearable computer look.

Re:Gargoyles (1)

Master of Kode Fu (63421) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614513)

I think Stephenson also popularized the use of the term "avatar" as the user's on-line representation.

Dune, by Frank Herbert (3, Funny)

cjpez (148000) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614477)

How could you miss it? You know, the Spice Melange that keeps us alive and healthy well beyond when we should have died? Prescience? Any of this ringing a bell?

...

Oh, right, that didn't actually happen, did it?

Its obvious (2, Funny)

blues-l (126155) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614478)

Plan 9

Woody Allen (1)

Strange_Attractor (160407) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614481)

Came up with the idea for the Orgasmatron and the Orb...wake me when someone's built them!!!!

Two (2, Informative)

Byteme (6617) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614483)

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.

Flash Gordon by Alex Raymond.

Star Trek (1)

SolidCore (250574) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614485)

Many may laugh at this but I think Star Trek has had a big influence on Science, Many Ideas have been models after these books and TV Shows. I.E. Ebooks.

Jules Verne (2, Interesting)

Erasei (315737) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614490)

I would have to say that the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne was my first real experience with science fiction. The book is set in 1866, I have no idea when it was written. I could probably find out on google, but I am lazy. Anyway, it was written before there were submarines around. Plus, it was a great book.

Re:Jules Verne (1)

paranoic (126081) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614603)

Actually it was William Bourne in 1580 who first described a submarine. Then in 1623, Cornelius Drebbel built one.

ST: TNG Technical Manual (3, Insightful)

x mani x (21412) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614492)

Star Trek : The Next Generation Technical Manual [amazon.com]

While this book may be the inverse (or reverse?) of what you're looking for, it is extremely interesting, and will surely help you a lot from a research standpoint for your project. It is basically a detailed description of every technical aspect of the ST:TNG universe, which includes many convergences between science fact and science fiction.

Also don't forget to note the name of the first space shuttle ever: The Enterprise [nasa.gov] .

Enterprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2614552)

How fitting that it was a Space Shuttle in name only.

Re:ST: TNG Technical Manual (2)

toupsie (88295) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614559)

Wasn't the first "Enterprise" ship the HMS Enterprise? It was commissioned on October 2, 1899 by the Royal Navy as a steam-powered screw tug. So maybe Star Trek stole from the Queen.

Huh-Huh, I typed "screw tug".

Clarke + Communications Satellites (2)

yardgnome (190624) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614499)

I'm sure /. will be inundated by people making this connection, but Arthur C. Clarke came up with the idea for communications satellites in geostationary orbits in 1945 (about 25 years before their actual use). However, his idea wasn't outlined in a novel, but in his paper, "Extra-terrestrial Relays [lsi.usp.br] . Which is still an interesting read, almost 57 years after its publishing.

Jules Verne and Nuclear Subs (1)

PackMan97 (244419) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614500)

Jules Verne had the idea for nuclear subs way back when. Maybe not current enough for you, but definitely a great example.

bugger...I type to slow - redundant comment (1)

PackMan97 (244419) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614527)

don't waste yer mod points.

Jargon File / New Hacker's Dictionary (1)

obtuse (79208) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614501)

You'll find lots of etymology in the Jargon file, including the origin many words taken from literature.

I own a copy of the printed book, because I enjoy browsing it so much.

http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/jargon/

Arthur C Clarke (3, Insightful)

abde (136025) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614502)


He predicted the Y2K problem (Ghost from the Grand Banks), and communications satellites (The Fountains of Paradise), and also invented the concept of the space elevator. He didnt invent the AI, but he certainly popularized the concept in film and text (2001 A Space Odyssey). Not to mention a realistic look at the role large corporations would play in space travel (Pan Am flights to the Space Station). I've never read The Deep Range, but it is supposed to be quite visionary as well regarding undersea exploration.

Go with the classic masters: Clarke, Asimov (1)

Pyromage (19360) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614503)

For some very very high-impact affects, check out some of the old-school sci-fi masters. Ever heard of Clarke Orbit? Also known as geosynchronous orbit (but shorter), it was originally Arthur C. Clarke's idea for stationary communications satalites. For another big one, try Asimov's robots: He invented the concept on his own: it's his word, and he created the concept. The newer sci-fi isn't going to be of much use, I think. But look at some of the much older stuff. Those are the only two examples I can think of off the top of my head, but I bet Heinlein did something.

Or, on the other hand, if you can be satinfied with sci-fi influencing/predicting the real non-tech world, what about Orwell? 1984 is more relevant now than ever, even if it's not a technology impact. Bradbury, et al. may be useful.

Just my 2c.

How can you demonstrate anything? (2)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614505)

Unless you actually talk to the inventors of these devices, you'll never know whether they were influenced by science fiction. I think you're making a big leap, here:
  • Work of science fiction describing some future technology is released
  • Some years later, a device similar to the aforementioned technology is released
  • You're assuming the latter stems from the former
Who's to say that the "inventor" of the cell phone got the idea from watching Star Trek? Maybe he got the idea from Dick Tracy? Or maybe it's just a natrual evolution of the technology? <SARCASM> Gee, a portable, wireless telephone - what a crazy idea! Thank god for Gene Rodenberry, or we'd never have anything like that! </SARCASM>

Robert Heinlein (sp?) (1)

darthtuttle (448989) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614506)

One of Robert Heinlein's books (Stranger in a Strange Land possibly?) contained the idea of the waterbed in it. Because it was published before anyone could "invent" the waterbed there was no way for anyone to get a patent on it. Eventually people started making them. This is one example of real life imitating art.

Ringworld (-1)

The Future Sound of (60863) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614507)

There is a giant ring-planet now circling the Sun built by Libertarians looking for a tax-free place to raise their families without any governmet interference. This is straight out of Larry Niven's "Ringworld."

A classic in the field (1, Troll)

BillyGoatThree (324006) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614508)

"CyberCheating" by Joe Schmoe, written in 1988. He details a world-wide "web" of computers devoted to doing other people's homework. Today's version of that technology: Ask Slashdot

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (2, Informative)

mscherotter (67370) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614510)

Ender's game details a future earth with a worldwide "internet" which allows people (in this case children) to communicate and express their ideas anonymously and let the quality of their ideas, not their age, determine their acceptance.

Re:Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2614592)

Also, in the 3 books following Ender's Game, Ender has a sentient computer in a jewel in his ear. Very similar to the computers you can wear as an earpiece and tiny screen in front of one of your eyes. I know these arent big yet, but they do exist

Sci Fi (1)

Noodlenose (537591) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614512)

The German Author Hans Dominik predicted and described in the early twenties of the last century the development of oil platforms, super sonic jet planes and nuclear reactors. Noodlenose

Gibson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2614517)

Anything by William Gibson. The man is a freakin' prophet. A few years ago he sat down and started writing today.

Earth, by David Brin (2, Informative)

Nick Arnett (39349) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614523)

A venture capitalist suggested that I read Brin's "Earth" years ago. Since then, I've re-read it twice, getting more out of it each time. A lot of the ideas he covered as non-fiction in "The Transparent Society" were present in "Earth." Of course, it's hard to measure how much Brin [davidbrin.com] influenced the world with his vision of the effects of networking, v. how much he simply foresaw many of its effects. I know it influenced me considerably and I passed on many of the ideas in my talks at many of the early Web-related conferences.

GIS and MapQuest (2)

Alomex (148003) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614524)

This short story by Jorge Luis Borges, which I read as a youngster many years back, always seemed prescient to me when it comes to Mapquest and other GIS'es:


...In that Empire, the craft of Cartography attained such Perfection that the Map of a Single province covered the space of an entire City, and the Map of the Empire itself an entire Province. In the course of Time, these Extensive maps were found somehow wanting, and so the College of Cartographers evolved a Map of the Empire that was of the same Scale as the Empire and that coincided with it point for point. Less attentive to the Study of Cartography, succeeding Generations came to judge a map of such Magnitude cumbersome, and, not without Irreverence, they abandoned it to the Rigours of sun and Rain. In the western Deserts, tattered Fragments of the Map are still to be found, Sheltering an occasional Beast or beggar; in the whole Nation, no other relic is left of the Discipline of Geography. From Travels of Praiseworthy Men (1658) by J. A. Suarez Miranda. The piece was written by Jorge Luis Borges and Adolfo Bioy Casares. English translation quoted from J. L. Borges, A Universal History of Infamy, Penguin Books, London, 1975.

Diamond Age, Neil Stephenson (1)

electric_penguin (166747) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614533)

The Handheld
Distributed wireless networks

not always. (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614534)

Did the flip out phone come directly from ST or did they just have the same obstical to overcome and the results are just similar?
Science fiction sparks the imagination with ideas, and certianly alows people in science to say "WOW, thats a good idea, lets see if its possible".
Science fiction went to the moon first that does not mean someone watched the movies and said, "Hey, lets go to the moon".
I can think of a few things that did come from Sci-Fi, and links to them, but I refuse to do your work for you.

Another Ask Slashdot to do someones homework (1)

vtechpilot (468543) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614535)

Boycott this ask Ask Slashdot. It is not our job to do someone elses homework. (unless they plan on paying us.)

Maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2614536)

If Tranformers counted as literature, then the Chevy Avalanche could be an example.

Novels? TV? Film? Influence or just Foreshadowing? (2)

Hanno (11981) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614537)

You ask for novels, yet your example is taken from a TV series. So, which do you prefer? And which medium do you believe is more influental?

Secondly, I believe that your choice of Star Trek's communicator isn't actually a good example.

I wasn't born then, but I guess that Walkie Talkies and CB radio or their equivalent existed back then, so it doesn't require much effort to imagine a much smaller version of such a device.

It'd be much more interesting to find out about devices or procedures that can be traced back to SciFi that were not just foreshadowing advanced versions of an existing technology.

(I'll answer your question about SciFi devices in real life in another post, since I want to look for some sources to back up these claims... :-)

Btw, being a SF-nut, one interesting thing I noticed about SciFi movies: You can always tell their production era by looking at hairstyles and makeup. Hardly any SF movie has the guts to do something completely out-of-fashion when it comes to the looks of actresses and actors.

Spock presenting something to Kirk (1)

Quebec (35169) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614539)

What I can remember from an original 60's Star Trek episode is Spock saying this:


"This [device?] contains a million data"


And I remember clearly Spock presenting a square piece of plastic about the same size and look of a nowadays common 1.44MB diskette without the metal slider door.

Novels have no effect upon scientific development (3, Insightful)

scotpurl (28825) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614540)

Scientists and inventors do not scour literature looking for devices and ideas to turn from fantasy into reality, which means that Sci-Fi has had zero effect upon what gadgets get invented.

More simply, engineers don't sit around waiting for writers to come up with the ideas.

A better thesis would be, "What ideas have been foretold by science fiction writers years before technology made it possible?"

Or, "Since writers tend to take the social aspects of technology under consideration more often than engineers, what novels and authors have correctly identified social and techonological necessities long before engineers invented the device that created the situation?"

Michael Moorcock: "The Sundered Worlds" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2614544)

Moorcock wrote this space opera in the early sixties, in which the survivors of humanity shunt their ships from their collapsing universe into another only to run into an alien race that challenges the humans to a game of altered realities where images and emotions are weapons: the "Blood Red Game". Sounds a bit like pencil & paper RPGs and VR to me.

Then again, I happen to be stoned.

Gibson's Neuromancer... (1)

Hulleye (126367) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614545)

is responsible for a large amount of the VR research that is currently going on (Jaron Lanier et al.) also, there is some research being conducted to allow blind people to "see" by connecting their optic pathways directly to some kind of video input.... this too was credited to Gibson as being the main influence.

Neuromancer (1)

MOMOCROME (207697) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614548)

Perhaps not as influential as it was prophetic, but here are a few of the many entertaining elements made real with each passing year: First, the term 'cyberspace' is coined here (or was it in an earlier short story?) and the rowdy, lawless net culture that we have today us described in detail. Second, the visualization of data as high-res 3D abstraction is presented as the main interface to this new 'cyberspace', and this was in 1983, long before even the first vga adaptor. While we still primarilly rely on CLIs and window systems to manipulate data, this does describe the 3D games that are played today rather well. Large polygonal objects projected in perspective was not commonplace technology 20 years ago.

Third, the fragmentation of the US by corporate influence is held as an obvious trend, something again that is coming to pass with each mega-merger we see in the news. AOL/TW anyone? Microsoft? oh, the list goes on. Gibson is loosing his edge with the younger generation taking his works for granted, even un-inspired. They fail to grasp how utterly amazingly accurate many of his early 80's predictions have come to pass.

Heinlein (2)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614549)

Heinlein, especially in his early years, is full of technology that is commonplace today that was pie-in-the-sky when he wrote it. He just didn't always call it by the same names we do today.

I'd have to go digging for specific technologies in specific titles, but it's all good-to-great reading anyway.

Expect to find mobile phones, faxes, video phones, voice dictation, computers of various intelligences, maglev, flywheels for energy storage (we use 'em as a UPS in datacenters; he used 'em in spaceships), sophisticated chemical synthesis (Venusians making real maple syrup from a sample), all sorts of rocketry and space tech, and lots more.

Also good is Niven, though more of his things (such as matter transporters and indestructible ship hulls) are still in the distant future. Zahn likes to take some form of technology, such as $6M-Man-like soldiers (Cobra et al.) and see what it might do to people and society--you get a chapter or two of a space western and the rest of the book of social analysis and commentary.

Sounds like a fun project, if for no other reason than the reading list!

b&

Starship Troopers (1)

cyoung1035 (539131) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614557)

The military seems to be trying to develop many of the concepts introduced by Heinlein in "Starship Troopers" ... the movie (ugh) didn't have to make any great leaps of imagination to re-create the weapons or armor ...

Hal's Legacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2614561)

There is an interesting book on the subject from MIT press, came out in 1996.

http://mitpress.mit.edu/e-books/Hal/index.html

Well, there's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2614569)

"tolkien ring", which some people still refer to Token Ring as...

Shockwave Rider (1)

justrob (445616) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614570)


John Brunner came up with the idea of a software
worm that could bring the internet to a slow crawl
way back in 1975.

Well, here's some science fact... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2614572)



Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2001 19:38:06 -0600

Dear William,

Here's a simple explanation of what powers every electrical circuit.

When we crank the shaft of the generator and rotate it, the rotation transforms the input "mechanical" energy into internal "magnetic field" energy. In that little part of the circuit that is between the terminals of the generator and inside it, the magnetic field energy is dissipated on the charges right there, to do work on them. This work (expending the magnetic energy) forces the negative charges in one direction, and the positive charges in the other direction. In copper, for example, for every electron we "push" off an atom into the conductor as a free electron to make "current", there is a "hole" left on that atom. That "hole" is a positive charge.

So the same magnetic field energy, while moving those electrons, also applies forces to those positive holes. The positive charge of each hole, however, is attached to a far heavier mass (the atom) than is the charge of the electron. So the atoms with positive charges (ions) are pushed and rocked back a little.

That's all that rotating the shaft of the generator accomplishes. None of that input shaft energy was transformed into EM energy and sent out down the powerline, as electrical engineers assume. Not to worry, energy does get sent down the powerline. But not from the generator shaft energy or its transduction.

Essentially then, all the energy we put into the shaft of the generator is dissipated inside the generator itself, to push the positive charges in one direction and the negative charges in the other. The separation of the charges forms what is called a "dipole" (opposite charges separated from each other a bit).

That is all that the generator does. That is all that burning all that coal or oil or gas does. It heats a boiler to make steam, so that the steam runs a steam turbine attached to the shaft of the generator, and turns it -- and therefore forcing those charges apart and making that dipole between the terminals of the generator.

Generators and batteries make source dipoles, nothing else.

Let's stop right there and see what happens, once we have a dipole.

In 1957, Lee and Yang were awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of broken symmetry, including the broken symmetry of opposite charges (such as the ends of a dipole, like between those terminals of that generator). Ugh! In lay language, what the dickens is that? What does it mean? Let us deviate a little, so we understand what has been said when we say that "the dipole, once made, is a broken symmetry in the fierce energy flux of the vacuum".

In quantum mechanics, the vacuum (empty space) is not inert at all, but is one of the most active and energetic things in the entire universe. Imagine a giant sea of "energetic bubbles", boiling up and bursting, and with mind-boggling energy. Each little bubble arises and disappears so quickly that it cannot be individually seen; but during the moment that it exists, it has enormous energy.

The vacuum or so-called "empty space" is just a seething sea of such extraordinarily energetic bubbles of energetic particles appearing and disappearing at an incredible rate. Because an individual bubble cannot be seen, it is said to be "virtual" (not observable) as compared to something that hangs around a long time and thus can be "seen" or "observed". An ordinary old electron that hangs around all the time is thus observable; an electron born as a special "bubble" momentarily in the seething vacuum and disappearing again almost instantly, is not observable but "virtual".

Photons (pieces of electromagnetic energy) also come in both "observable" and "virtual" size. An ordinary old photon hangs around a long time and so it is observable. We say it is "real energy" because we can interact with it, detect it, and observe it. A photon born momentarily as a "special bubble" in that seething vacuum does not hang around, and so cannot be "seen" or measured or observed. So it is said to be "virtual".

These virtual bubbles appearing and disappearing in the vacuum are quite real. The reactions of lots of them with mass is what creates all the forces of the universe. Any and every kind of force.

It turns out that a charge -- any charge, either electric or magnetic -- is in violent virtual photon energy exchange with that vacuum, continuously. That fierce absorption of energy and emission of energy is in fact "what charge really is".

Let's visualize that as virtual photons (photon bubbles) in the frenzied vacuum continuously interacting by the uncountable zillions with an ordinary old charge (say an electron). All the forces we observe acting upon that electron, are created by the frenzied interaction of those virtual photon bubbles with that electron.

And the same for any other charge.

So a dipole (two opposite charges separated a little) is a broken symmetry in that violent energy exchange between the charges of the dipole and that seething energy bubble sea. That is well-proven, both experimentally and theoretically, in particle physics since 1957 and the award of the Nobel Prize to Lee and Yang.

It still hasn't made it into the electrical engineering textbooks and curricula yet.

Here's what we mean by that "broken symmetry of the dipole in the fierce flux of vacuum".

The charges on the dipole continuously receive energy in little temporary "bullet strikes" called virtual photon absorptions. So the charge continuously absorbs EM energy, steadily and violently, from the active vacuum at an incredible rate. All the time. Night and day. More in one second than all the manmade power systems on earth have used in our entire history. In other words, it really receives an incredible amount of energy continuously!

So the dipole has to re-radiate (emit) that continuously absorbed virtual energy back to the active vacuum, as fast as it receives it. Else its rapidly increasing stored energy would rise so sharply that it would create a new "Big Bang" and an entire new universe bursting out of the old one.

Obviously the world is not continuously exploding around every dipole or electron. In fact, the dipole and the electron are quite stable. So the dipole or electron has to be re-radiating that absorbed energy back to the vacuum as fast as it receives it.

Now there are two ways the opposite charges in a dipole could possibly radiate that energy back to space. (1) they could radiate it back as the same kind of virtual photons that it absorbed. In that case, there would exist "mirror symmetry" in the vacuum flux, as if everything hitting the dipole charges from the vacuum were just reflected exactly right back to the vacuum, like light reflecting perfectly from a mirror.

But that's not what happens. What happens is (2) a lot of the little bitty momentary photons are "piled up" and added together, to make a bigger "chunk" of EM energy. These "big chunks" of EM energy are the bigger, permanent kind of photons! They are observable. That's real energy, and you can intercept it, collect it, and use it to power real loads.

That reradiating the absorbed virtual photon energy as observable photon energy called a "broken symmetry" in that vacuum "bubble flux". In other words, the dipole charges absorb energy from the vacuum in very tiny momentary bits -- as something like "disintegrated" EM energy. But the spin of the charges of the dipole integrates that "disintegrated" EM energy into very much bigger pieces that are permanent and hang around. So part of the energy received from the vacuum in a form that cannot be "seen", is "glued together" into energy that can be and is seen, and re-emitted back to the vacuum in that real EM energy form.

So we "see" the dipole as if it were just sitting there and pouring out real EM energy continuously, in all directions, like a spray nozzle or giant energy gusher. We don't see the input energy from the vacuum at all! But it's there, and it's well-known in particle physics. It's just that electrical engineers -- particularly those that have designed and built all our electrical power systems for more than a century -- do not know it.

So, according to proven particle physics and a Nobel Prize, the easiest thing in all the world is to extract EM energy from the vacuum. All you wish. Anywhere in the universe. For free. Just pay a little bit once, to make a little dipole, and that silly thing is like a great oil well you just successfully drilled that has turned into a mighty gusher of oil without you having to pump it. The dipole just sits there and does its thing, and it pours energy out forever, for free, as long as that dipole continues to exist.

So pouring from the terminals (from the internal source dipole) of every generator and battery, there is a stream of EM energy pouring out, once that internal dipole is made. This outflowing EM energy has been extracted and converted directly from the seething vacuum by that dipole's broken symmetry. The outflowing EM energy is not transformed shaft energy one put into the generator! That flow of energy extracted from the vacuum fills all space around the external wires attached to the terminals, and it flows at the speed of light.

The external (attached) circuits and power lines etc. catch some of that available EM energy flowing through space (generally flowing parallel to the wires but outside them). Some of the flowing energy is intercepted and diverted into the wires themselves, to power up the internal electrons and force them into currents, thus powering the entire power line and all its circuits.

However, the power system engineers use just one kind of circuit. In the standard "closed current loop" circuit, all the "spent electrons" (spent after giving up their excess energy in the loads, losses, etc.) are then forcibly "rammed" back through that little internal section between the ends of the source dipole (between the terminals). These "rammed" electrons smash the charges in the dipole away, and destroy the dipole then and there.

It can easily be shown that half the "caught" energy in the external circuit is used to destroy that source dipole, and nothing else.

For more than a century, our misguided engineers have thus used a type of circuit that takes half of the energy it catches, and uses that half to destroy the source dipole that is actually extracting the EM energy from the vacuum and pouring it out of the terminals for that power line to "catch" in the first place! The other half of the "caught energy" in the powerline is used to power the external loads and losses.

So half the caught energy in the power line is used to kill the source dipole (kill the free energy gusher), and less than half is used to power the loads. It follows that our electrical engineers are trained to use only those power circuits that kill themselves (kill their gushing free energy from the vacuum) faster than they can power their loads.

Well, to get the energy gusher going again, the dipole has to be restored in order to extract the energy and pour it out again.

So we have to pay to crank the shaft of that generator some more, to turn that generator some more, so that we can dissipate some more magnetic energy to re-make the dipole. We have to work on that shaft at least as much as the external circuit worked on that source dipole to destroy it. So we have to "input more shaft energy" to the generator than the external power system uses to power its loads. Since we pay for the input shaft energy, we have to keep on burning that coal, oil, and gas etc. to do so.

All our electrical power systems are "suicidal" vacuum-powered systems, freely extracting their useful EM energy from the seething vacuum, but deliberately killing themselves faster than they power their loads.

All that the burning of all that coal, oil, gas, etc. accomplishes is to continually remake the source dipole, which our engineers insure will then receive be killed by the system itself faster than the system gives us work in the load.

To borrow a phrase from Tesla, this is probably "the most inexplicable aberration of the scientific mind ever recorded in history".

No electrical engineering department or professor in the United states teaches or even knows what powers an EM circuit, or an electrical power line, even though the basis has been available in particle physics for nearly half a century.

All that wanton and senseless destruction of the biosphere and pollution of the planet, just to get our electrical energy from self-suicidal power system, is insane. There is absolutely no need for it. That hundreds of thousands of engineers and scientists have continued this gigantic farce uncomplaining, is absolutely inexcusable. That the leaders of our scientific community continue to propagate such nonsense, is also inexcusable.

There is no problem in getting all the EM energy one wishes, for nearly free, anywhere in the universe, and that follows from the broken symmetry of the dipole. Just make a dipole. You get the energy flow for free, thereafter, so long as you will just leave that dipole intact and not destroy it (or at least destroy it slower than you power the load).

All the universities, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and the great national laboratories are completely working on the wrong end of the energy problem. So is the Department of Energy, save one small project to donate a website to the Alpha Foundation's Institute for Advanced Study (AIAS), of which the present author is a fellow emeritus (old dog). The conventional power system scientists have got the cart before the horse, have had it that way for more than a century, and are determined to forever keep it that way.

The real and only energy PROBLEM is simple: Figure out better mechanisms to intercept that FREE electromagnetic energy flow from the source dipole, once made. Collect lots of that freely flowing energy in collectors and circuits. Then discard the stupid closed current loop circuit and dissipate the collected energy in the loads WITHOUT dissipating half of it to kill the dipole and the free-flowing EM energy from the vacuum.

In one AIAS paper, we gave some 17 ways to attack that real only energy problem. Several of those ways are doable now, but just require funding and a proper development program. And some engineers who also know some particle physics. I personally know three inventor or inventor groups with overunity EM systems in at least successful laboratory experiment, or in actual prototype. Our own group with its motionless electromagnetic generator using the Aharonov-Bohm effect is one of those three systems that can be developed and brought into mass production within one year, given adequate funding (say, about 23 million per system). The energy crisis can be totally solved, forever, anytime the scientific community will permit it, fund it, and not try to "steal" it from the inventor(s).

The electrodynamics that U.S. electrical engineers are using to design those present electrical power system monstrosities and the accompanying extraordinarily vulnerable and awkward and archaic infrastructures and distribution systems is 137 years old, put together in the time of the American Civil War, for goodness sakes! At that time, the atom, the nucleus, and the electron were not even discovered yet. The classical EM model is known today to be seriously flawed (e.g., Wheeler and Feynman pointed part of it out, and even tried to correct it. They failed because their corrections were not sufficiently extensive). Even so, later even that 1865 Maxwellian EM model was also seriously curtailed in the 1880s (after Maxwell was already dead). It was further crippled, first partially crippled by Heaviside and then permanently crippled (as far as free energy systems) by Lorentz. Prior to Lorentz's changes, the Maxwell-Heaviside equations do prescribe both (1) Maxwellian systems that put out less energy than the operator inputs (i.e., the conventional stuff), and (2) Maxwellian systems that put out more energy than the operator himself inputs. The model (before Lorentz's changes) does include "electromagnetic windmills in a free electrical wind", so to speak. After Lorentz's change, it is as if the further-stripped model now only contains "windmills which are sealed in a barn so no wind can ever get to them".

Let me put it this way. Every electrical system we every built, and every one today, is powered by EM energy extracted directly from the active vacuum by the source dipole in the system. Always has been, always will be. If one really wants to get serious about it, all EM energy in space comes from the time domain (see my Giant Negentropy paper). Literally we "consume or use a little time, to get EM energy in 3-space. One second of time converts to something like 9x10exp16 joules of EM energy. So if we convert one microsecond per second, at one point in space, into EM energy in space, we get something like 9x10exp10 joules per second -- that's 90,000 megawatts at that single point. Even at a very efficient conversion process, we can get 1,000 megawatts there at that single point or location. And we can simultaneously do that at each and every spatial point or location that we choose.

So how many programs are the National Academy of Sciences and National Science Foundations funding for working on the only real fundamental electrical power system problem (how to dissipate the freely flowing EM energy in loads, without ramming the spent electrons back through the source dipole and destroying it)? Check their websites. There is no really "innovative science" going on to solve that problem. The scientific community will spend and has spent billions on the notion of hot fusion, without adding one watt to the power grid, but they will not spend a paltry $40 million to solve the only remaining problem that would allow very cheap and clean electrical energy for the entire world, forever. And that would dramatically and permanently reduce the despoiling of this beautiful biosphere, the strangling of species, and the global warming. Let alone eliminate those nuclear powerplants and eliminate further nuclear wastes from them.

The cost of a single large new electrical power plant for a few years, can solve the energy crisis forever.

Kyoto was a flash in the pan prior to what can really be done with a single well-funded and well-directed research program in 3 years. We could have working commercial power systems, self-powering, going into production in one year from the date such a program is initiated, if we can get something like a Presidential Decision Directive to keep the infuriated scientific community, the Big Nuke Power boys, and the Big Oil and Big Coal boys off our backs. Two years later that that first year, the range of systems will include nearly everything necessary to permanently replace this terribly vulnerable and antiquated centralized power system that is going to require vast billions of new dollars and years of work, just to try to stay up with demand.

Oh, how long will a dipole pour out that EM energy freely, you asked? Let's put it this way. The dipoles in the atoms of all the primary matter in the universe, have been continuously pouring out EM energy freely extracted from the vacuum, for some 14 billion years or so. So as far as we are concerned, the dipole will pour the energy out freely forever, or for at least the next 14 billion years -- and that's close enough to forever for government work, so to speak.

All we have to do is take the "electrical windmills" out of the closed current loop barns we have been putting them in for over 100 years.

If the environmentalists really want to save the planet, then it is the scientific community they should be attacking and condemning. To do that, they will have to have some decidedly unorthodox scientific advise. But we do have some extraordinary scientists who can and would do it. They would have to be paid, but they can meet all objections and the deepest scientific criticism.

The global warming, hydrocarbon combustion pollution, nuclear power plant pollution, and dams pollution and degradation of species and the biosphere, are totally unnecessary. The only reason we have an environmental problem now approaching such epic proportions, is because of the abject and total failure of our own scientific community for more than a century. That was excusable for a half century, but since the rise of particle physics -- and specifically since the discovery of broken symmetry -- it is no longer excusable. Indeed, it so threatens the very survival of the United States (and about 3/4 of the Earth that is going to be destroyed by about 2010 on our present course) that it has become simply inexplicable.

How else can one explain the fact that, in 100 years, we have not produced a single electrical engineering department, university, national laboratory, etc. that even understands what powers an electrical circuit? And still do not, even though the broken symmetry of the common source dipole has been established for nearly a half century?

The organized scientific community --- not the political community --- is totally responsible for the environmental crisis.

Unfortunately, the environmental community and the political community have been very naïve; they have turned for their "expert advice" to those same engineers and scientists and organizations and laboratories that do not even know what powers an electrical circuit. And that have been responsible for the crisis in the first place. And they have naively believed every word they were told by those advisors.

Hey! Those who brought on the problem in the first place, and who so stoutly defend the present mess (destroying the careers of scientists who object and try to change it), cannot be depended upon to properly advise anyone on how to correct it. That is like setting the fox in the henhouse to guard the hens.

The environmental community does a lot of activism, because it is filled with persons sincerely passionate in their urgent intent to save this precious planet. The community has a lot of clout, and it also attracts a lot of money from donors wishing to clean up the biosphere, and to have a clean air and planet once again, with thriving natural species rather that species strangling in the sludge and the mud.

However, sadly the community focuses (understandably!) on the wrong problem, because it receives the wrong scientific advice. The environmental community is led to believe that what is being done by our energy scientists and engineers is the very best that can be done. That is totally false. Both the environmentalists and the politicians are being misled by our scientific community.

Contrary to popular opinion, science does not progress by sweet reason, but by an unending series of cur dog fights. Any historian of science can give dozens and dozens of notorious examples (vacuum energy and cold fusion are two present cases where the innovative scientists are being savaged without mercy). The Big Dogs who hold the upper hand in the present cur dog fights, are irrevocably committed to more of the same systems the environmentalists despise: Big nuclear power plants, more hydrocarbon burning, ever more oil and gas pipelines, ever more dams, etc. You cannot power the big cities and the increasing populace with windmills and solar cells. Or with fuel cells either, though that is now the "decision" made by the various cartels that we shall have forced upon us. Reason: with fuel cells, you will have to keep burning some fuel, and keep that energy meter on your house and some kind of "gas meter" on your car. EM energy from the vacuum is deadly opposed by the cartels because it is total anathema to that desire. By removing that gas meter on your car and that electric meter on your house, some vast financial empires are threatened and will be destroyed eventually. We simply wryly point out that the top dogs did not get on top by placing touch football; they got there by playing very hard-nosed football. They will do whatever it takes to oppose the knowledge and funding of COP>1.0 electrical systems freely taking their energy from the seething vacuum. Including kill the inventors and discoverers as necessary. They have been doing it for several decades already.

So the dispute over eliminating the energy crisis versus saving the environment then becomes artificially limited to the false "either-or" choice between more energy-systems-as-conventional to provide more energy, versus severe curtailment of energy use from less energy-systems-as-conventional to decrease the impact on the environment.

That choice forces one to a choice in the national economy and way of life, when only the conventional power system technology is considered. With conventional technology, to maintain the economy for a decent standard of living for all, we have to have CHEAP AND ABUNDANT electrical energy and more of it every year. With conventional approaches, to maintain the environment we have to have CLEANER AND LESS electrical energy every year.

The real solution is to kill the controversy and cut the Gordian knot, and get rid of that phrase "conventional power system technology" and that phrase "and less". To do BOTH things at once -- have cheaper, clean, and more abundant electrical energy and more every year -- we only have to turn to proper use of the enormous electromagnetic energy so easily and universally produced from the seething vacuum.

There is a very good and proper science of the type of electrodynamic models that have to be used to develop such new "vacuum powering" systems: (1) higher group symmetry electrodynamics should be used, such as O(3), which is capable of modeling the vacuum interaction as well as the curvatures of spacetime interactions (both of which conventional classical electrical engineering discards), and (2) we have to put some sharp but open-minded scientists on working on the real problem: how to dissipate the collected EM energy in a dipolar circuit, without using half of it to destroy its own dipolarity.

We have to fund those sharp young grad students working on their doctorate, and those post-docs working on new energy research, to work in "EM energy from the vacuum". Try finding a single doctoral thesis, candidate, or post-doc working on a funded project in that respect.

The entire solution to the energy crisis and to the environmental problem due to energy is doable, and it's doable in three years. But take an example: To get those two things going via our own proposed COP>1.0 power system (the motionless electromagnetic generator), we have had to move our final year of research to the National Material Sciences Laboratory of the National Academy of Science of a friendly foreign nation.

Which, by the way, has been teaching the higher electrodynamics in its universities now for more than a dozen years.

And which, by the way, does know what really powers an EM circuit.

Hope this fills the bill for you.

Best wishes,

Tom Bearden

References for Scientists:

Modern Nonlinear Optics, Second Edition, 3 vols., edited by M. W. Evans, Wiley, 2001. The 3 volumes comprise a Special Topic issue as Vol. 119, I. Prigogine and S. A. Rice (series eds.), Advances in Chemical Physics, Wiley, ongoing. M.W. Evans, P. K. Anastasovski, T. E. Bearden et al., "Derivation of the B(3) Field and Concomitant Vacuum Energy Density from the Sachs Theory of Electrodynamics," Foundations of Physics Letters, 14(6), Dec. 2001, p. 589-593 ----- "Development of the Sachs Theory of Electrodynamics," Foundations of Physics Letters, 14(6), Dec. 2001, p. 595-600; ----- "Explanation of the Motionless Electromagnetic Generator with O(3) Electrodynamics," Foundations of Physics Letters, 14(1), Feb. 2001, p. 87-94. ------ "Explanation of the Motionless Electromagnetic Generator by Sachs's Theory of Electrodynamics," Foundations of Physics Letters, 14(4), 2001, p. 387-393. ------ "Operator Derivation of the Gauge Invariant Proca and Lehnert Equation: Elimination of the Lorentz Condition," Foundations of Physics, 39(7), 2000, p. 1123-1130. ----- "Effect of Vacuum Energy on the Atomic Spectra," Foundations of Physics Letters, 13(3), June 2000, p. 289-296. ----- "Runaway Solutions of the Lehnert Equations: The Possibility of Extracting Energy from the Vacuum," Optik, 111(9), 2000, p. 407-409. ----- "Classical Electrodynamics Without the Lorentz Condition: Extracting Energy from the Vacuum," Physica Scripta 61(5), May 2000, p. 513-517. ----- "On the Representation of the Maxwell-Heaviside Equations in Terms of the Barut Field Four-Vector," Optik 111(6), 2000, p. 246-248. "The New Maxwell Electrodynamic Equations: New Tools for New Technologies. A Collection of 60 papers from the Alpha Foundation's Institute for Advanced Study. Published as a Special Issue of the Journal of New Energy, 4(3), Winter 1999. 335 p. T. E. Bearden, "Extracting and Using Electromagnetic Energy from the Active Vacuum," in M.W. Evans (ed.), Modern Nonlinear Optics, Second Edition, 3 vols., Wiley, 2001; Vol. 2, p. 639-698. T. E. Bearden, "Energy from the Active Vacuum: The Motionless Electromagnetic Generator," in M. W. Evans (Ed.), Modern Nonlinear Optics, Second Edition, 3-vols., Wiley, 2001; Vol. 2, p. 699-776. T. E. Bearden, Energy from the Vacuum: Concepts and Principles, World Scientific, Singapore, 2002, in process. T. E. Bearden, "Giant Negentropy from the Common Dipole," Proceedings of Congress 2000, St. Petersburg, Russia, Vol. 1, July 2000 , p. 86-98. Also published in Journal of New Energy, 5(1), Summer 2000, p. 11-23. Also carried on DoE restricted website http://www.ott.doe.gov/electromagnetic/ and www.cheniere.org. T. E. Bearden, "Bedini's Method For Forming Negative Resistors In Batteries," Proceedings of Congress 2000, St. Petersburg, Russia, Vol. 1, July 2000, p. 24-38. Also published in Journal of New Energy, 5(1), Summer 2000, p. 24-38. Floyd Sweet and T. E. Bearden, "Utilizing Scalar Electromagnetics to Tap Vacuum Energy," Proceedings of the 26th Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference (IECEC '91), Boston, Massachusetts, 1991, p. 370-375. M.W. Evans, "The Link Between the Sachs and O(3) Theories of Electrodynamics," in M. W. Evans (Ed.), Modern Nonlinear Optics, Second Edition, , 3 vols. Wiley, 2001; vol. 2, p. 469-494. M. W. Evans, "The Link Between the Topological Theory of Ranada and Trueba, the Sachs Theory, and O(3) Electrodynamics," in M. W. Evans (Ed.), Modern Nonlinear Optics, Second Edition, , 3 vols. Wiley, 2001, vol. 2, p. 495-499. M. W. Evans, "O(3) Electrodynamics," a review in M.W. Evans (ed.), Modern Nonlinear Optics, Second Edition, 3 vols., Wiley, 2001; Vol. 2, p. 79-267. M. W. Evans and L. B. Crowell, Classical and Quantum Electrodynamics and the B(3) Field, World Scientific, Singapore, 2001. M. W. Evans and S. Jeffers, "The Present Status of the Quantum Theory of Light," in M. W. Evans (ed.), Modern Nonlinear Optics, Second Edition, 3 vols., Wiley, 2001; Vol. 3, p. 1-196. , B. Lehnert, "Optical Effects of an Extended Electromagnetic Theory," in Modern Nonlinear Optics, Second Edition, 3 vols., Wiley, 2001; Vol. 2, p. 1-77.

Almost anything by H.G. Wells (1)

WolfMansDad (253294) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614573)

H. G. Wells was the first to describe an atomic bomb, before World War 1 I think, but an important insight nevertheless! Also see "The Land Ironclads" for the first description of tanks in warfare.

Of course he also established most 20th century sci-fi themes. See "The Time Machine," "War of the Worlds," "The Invisible Man," etc.

Dreams... (2, Informative)

depth_13 (454306) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614575)

Although it will probably be brought up again, Peter Disch wrote a pretty decent book that was reviewed here on Slashdot a while ago called "The Dreams our Stuff is Made Of" that examines the impact that science fiction has had on both our technology and society at large.

The Diamond Age "Predicted" Electric Paper (4, Interesting)

cybrpnk (94636) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614584)

After he wrote Snow Crash, the ultimate cyberpunk novel, Neil Stephenson wrote The Diamond Age. Its key plot device was a book with leaves of paper that were computer controlled and displayed whatever the person wanted to read at the moment. Thus a single volume was the equivalent of the entire internet or library of congress or whatever. This differed from using a laptop computer because his society was "neo-Victorian" and everybody wanted to be seen with books, not computers, as a kind of status thing. The funny thing is that Electric Ink [eink.com] is on the verge of making this a reality and has already got posters up in department stores...

Good. (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614588)

William Gibson, "Neuromancer" (AI freedom fighters)

Neal Stevenson, "Snow Crash" (Lang. Hacking/Franchise system.)

Vernor Vinge, "A Fire Upon The Deep" (Long distance low bandwidth networking)

Frank Herbert, "Dune" (Ecology)

dreams, etc (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614589)

From what I recall, many of the old authors from the golden age of science fiction semi-deliberately made it their job to promote space travel, etc so that people would get away from trying to blow each other up on planet Earth, and would get into space exploration as a new thing to do. A sort of informal agenda for the future of the planet.

We seem to be missing this kind of vision these days, cynicism being much more fashionable.

Brave new world (1)

JWRose (139221) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614595)

With all the genetic engineering going on today, have a look at A Brave new world, by Aldous Huxley. I'm not sure when it was first published, but since Huxley died in 1963, it should give you some idea.

Phaser (1)

Nasticity (532860) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614601)

I can't remeber exactly where i read this.. maybe someone else will... but i read about a new device they are calling a phaser.. it shoots an ionized beam.. then releases electrical current along the beam... stunning the individual

The Other Star Trek References (5, Interesting)

remande (31154) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614602)

Besides communicators, the original Star Trek had some other influences on technology.


I've been told from a retired Navy man that control rooms on latter-day vessels are based on the Enterprise model, which didn't exist until the show did. Previously, key combat stations (such as the helm and tactical) were not in the same room as the skipper. Note: I have not been able to confirm or deny this story; anybody else want to?


In the original series, whenever one character handed another character computer data, the prop they used was a brightly colored square wafer. IMHO, it looked 3.5" on a side--The microfloppy.


Again, unconfirmed: did the taser descend from the "stun" setting on the phaser? Trek showed just how useful it was to have a less-lethal weapon.


The military uses needle-less pneumatic hypodermic injectors to do mass injections--perhaps lining up a regiment to all get a Tetanus booster or something. How is this related to McCoy's spray hypo? I'm not sure.


Finally, a case of ST influencing technobabble rather than technology itself. Under the Unix operating system, the graphics package (X11) easily allows for one computer to run a program, but for its windows to appear on another machine's display. This is often referred to as "Beaming the app over", based on terminology for the transporter.

Here's a selection (2)

pq (42856) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614604)

SF has a long history of interacting with science (and not just physics!). Off the top of my head, here's a selection:
  • First the obvious: "Cyberspace" was first made popular in William Gibson's Neuromancer, the first of the cyberpunk novels.
  • Biotechnology, and the possibility of reviving extinct species with trans-species surrogate mothers or eggs is almost a commonplace concept now, but when Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton's book, not the movie) came out, it was path-breaking.
  • Books to watch in future are Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age for nanotech and "replicators," and Snow Crash, for the future evolution of virtual worlds as well as pizza delivery... :-)
  • The obscure: the concept of vacuum energy was actually propounded in a Physical Review Letters article by Robert L. Forward before Asimov borrowed it to power his spaceships (the starship "Forward") - I forget the book, but it might have been Friday.
  • And the obvious once again: geosynchronous sattelites were predicted (but not patented) by Arthur Clarke - that's why they are called Clarke orbits. And watch for the Beanstalk to be built some day, on Mars if not Earth.
  • Speaking of Mars: Robert Zubrin's book, The Case for Mars, pitches a serious plan for the manned exploration of Mars that has at least forced some re-thinking at NASA. The ideas were borrowed, reworked and expanded somewhat in Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars: look for a future manned Mars mission to use many of those ideas.
  • Of course, the Three Laws of Robotics have influenced AI researchers, if not AI research...
That's a smattering - I'm sure there are many many more that others will list.

What about ... (1)

rnb (471088) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614606)

Philip K. Dick?

I've only read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, but it seems like he was prolific and had a lot of interesting ideas about the future.

'web' - John Brunner (1)

justrob (445616) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614611)


I beleive John Brunner coined the term 'web'
back in 1975 in his novel Shockwave Rider. I don't
know if he was the first to use it though.

Evolution (1)

WhatThe?? (101905) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614613)

This is like athe chicken and the egg. Which came first.

It will be hard to determine if any authour's ideas ever influenced the inventor.

I think the invention process is more evolutionary .

Just my .02 cents

Jules Verne (1)

oooga (307220) | more than 12 years ago | (#2614614)

I know you said post-WWII, but still, when it comes to sci-fi and technology, it's hard to ignore the contributions of that lovable bearded Frenchman.

Take, for instance, his two space exploration books, _From the Earth to the Moon_ and _Round the Moon_. While it's uncertain whether he accurately predicted such things as the proper launch spot for a lunar craft (Cape Canaveral) or whether scientists based their space race developments off his writings, those two books certainly affected the Apollo missions and other subsequent space exploration.

And, of course, his famous Nautilus, with it's electric screw and incandescent lights (in 1860, I think) proved to be a remarkably accurate glimpse into the future. Not to mention the diving suits, electric charge rifles, etc.

I think it's important, in dealing with the history of sci-fi and it's effects on modern technology to at least touch on the creator of science fiction, even if you don't use it as a major focus of the course.
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