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Over the years, we have seen the invention of quite a few significant technologies. While there is little doubt that the creators of these devices had brilliant minds, it’s rare that we stop to think about where the ideas for these concepts came from. Sometimes they were literally just original concepts from the inventors themselves, but other times they were inspired by speculative science fiction. Here are ten examples of technology that had its origins in the realm of sci-fi.
In his 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, Jules Verne described a projectile that could be used to send people to the moon. Roughly a century later, Lunar Modules were created and man first walked on the moon. Verne is usually credited with creating the idea for these amazing devices because he described them accurately as something that would essentially shoot people through our atmosphere and into outer space. Had he not envisioned the possibilities of this technology, it might not exist today.
This one comes not from the pages of science fiction, but rather from the images on a television screen. Some of the characters in Star Trek used an Earpiece to keep in touch. Years later, we now have earpieces of our own that connect with mobile devices using bluetooth technology.
Yet another creation inspired by Jules Verne, the submarine may not have been a reality if it weren’t for his novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Thanks to his description of the Nautilus, we now have electronic submarines that can reach great depths and discover new life at the bottom of the ocean.
In particular, Arthur C. Clarke’s depiction of HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey has inspired scientists to create similar technology that can be used to help the human race. IBM built a supercomputer known as Watson which is working to help mankind find a cure for cancer, a far better prospect than what happened with poor HAL.
It may be hard to believe, but rockets are a relatively new invention. Creator Robert H. Goddard credited his inspiration to H.G. Wells, who wrote the much beloved classic War of the Worlds. If Verne gave scientists the idea for space travel, Wells solidified it with his incredible depictions of interplanetary fight.
Originally seen in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, the Communicator was a device that could be flipped open in order to allow the user to communicate with other people over large distances. This would inspire the later invention of the flip phone, a cell phone that flips open in order to give users the ability to make calls from just about anywhere.
Another invention inspired by H.G. Wells, Nuclear Power is perhaps one of the greatest examples of life imitating art. In his novel The World Set Free, Wells imagined a world where atomic energy would be created and lead to a world war, after which peace would be possible. This is not far off from what actually happened, as the technology was created and part of a huge World War, only later being used as a source of energy in a peaceful manner.
Yet another product that came from the mind of Gene Roddenberry, the Tablet as we know it today had its origins in the Padd (Personal Access Display Device) on Star Trek. This was a touch screen device that was used for various tasks, much like the Tablets that we have today. In fact, Apple’s version of this technology is called the “iPad,” which sounds very similar, although there is probably no official link between these two names.
While the idea of “rays of light” isn’t exactly new to science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke’s depiction of the technology in Earthlight might just be the most accurate. In the novel, he depicts particle beams that can be seen and cause damage. Today, we have laser technology that can be seen and cause damage if focused correctly.
Yet another creation that would not have been possible without the help of Jules Verne, the Helicopter was created by a man named Igor Sikorsky, who credited Verne’s novel Clipper of the Clouds with giving him the idea for the invention. Having read the book as a young boy, he was inspired to make the visionary’s dream come true.
As one of the most inspirational science fiction writers of all time, Jules Verne said it best when he stated “Anything that one man can imagine, another man can make real.” This may just be the most accurate statement that he ever made, and truly an inspirational quote that many have taken to heart, which is why we have so many fantastic new technologies today.