What Science Fiction Got Wrong
Question: Why doesn’t our world look like the future envisioned in the science fiction of the 1950s and 60s?
Jim Kakalios: They got a lot of things wrong in that they expected that there would be a revolution in energy so that we would have jet packs and flying cars. When what we got instead were a revolution in information which led to cell phones and laptop computers.
Energy is limited by the atoms and how they interact with each other and the chemical binding between them unless you’re going to go nuclear. Whereas information is pretty much limited by our cleverness in how to store it and transmit it.
The information revolution was enabled thanks to the developments of semi-conductor and solid state physics, which in turn were created – were made possible thanks to the discovery of quantum mechanics.
Quantum mechanics is the branch of physics that deals with how atoms interact with each other and how they interact with life. Back in 1926, Hugo Gernsback publishes the first pulp magazine devoted exclusively to science fiction; amazing stories. Also publishing in 1926, Erwin Schrödinger publishing the Schrödinger Equation that would form the foundation of quantum mechanics.
So there is these two visions of the future that start off in 1926, really within months of each other. One leads to the fantasy world or death rays, and the other leads to the reality of lasers.
Early science fiction predicted jet packs and flying cars—a revolution in energy. Instead we got cell phones and laptop computers—a revolution in information.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.
- The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
- The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
- People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
The rise of anti-scientific thinking and conspiracy is a concerning trend.
- Fifty years later after one of the greatest achievements of mankind, there's a growing number of moon landing deniers. They are part of a larger trend of anti-scientific thinking.
- Climate change, anti-vaccination and other assorted conspiratorial mindsets are a detriment and show a tangible impediment to fostering real progress or societal change.
- All of these separate anti-scientific beliefs share a troubling root of intellectual dishonesty and ignorance.
The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.
- Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
- Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
- Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.