When science fiction becomes science… #1

Looking at the progress we have made in the fields of science and technology, one is always wondering whether it is science which impacts the vision we have of our future or whether it is fiction that drags mankind to newer horizons. Fiction is powered by human imagination. Without this unlimited power of imagination nothing could have ever been conceived. Everything started when someone imagined the concept of zero in counting and then there was no looking back . This is only one example but history is full of that kind of story.

Now a few questions arise: “What is the real force at work behind progress? Are the advances of sciences getting inspiration from fiction or is it the other way round?”

We can very likely say that when it comes to discoveries or inventions, science has always drawn inspiration from fiction. It is quite natural because before building up something we need to imagine, visualize and even analyse its use. In reality, imagination is nothing but free flowing ideas coming from the human mind and presented in the form of fiction. Later in pursuit of these ideas or thoughts, efforts are made to turn this imagination into reality. This is how things have progressed in the history of mankind.

Humans have imagined so many things which would later become reality. In ancient times, alchemists imagined a secret formula to convert metal into gold and make life eternal. In fact, in 1980 Glenn Seaborg,the nobel prize laureate in chemistry was suspect of being able to find the formula to transmute lead into gold. But, theoretically it is still considered impossible. Yet, scientists in the centuries that followed could not find this magical formula but in the course of their efforts they were able to discover many chemical processes which are still useful today. Indeed, they introduced on the market different “types” of gold, especially the fake ones.

But, now the question is: “Where does fiction get its inspiration from?”  

We can say that we usually get inspiration from our daily lives. For centuries, people always wondered why we humans weren’t able to fly when birds could. To fulfil their curiosity, they tried to copy birds and make wooden wings, wings with feathers, etc. And these continuous efforts were finally paid back when airplanes came to existence.

In more recent times, the huge variety of science fiction films, comic strips, books has given scientists more ideas. An example to illustrate this could be the communicator from Star Trek. Communicator was a fictional device used for communicating. The inventor of the first mobile phone credits the communicator for inspiring him. This is another example to prove that science inspired from fiction. Similarly many of the inventions were first seen in science-fictional series before entering our lives.

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