October 14, 2012

POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY: Wanna Try To Prophesy The Future?

Imagine my amazement when I found out that this little device:

both NAMED and inspired this little device:

In case you didn’t know, taser stands for Thomas A Swift’s Electric Rifle.

This one is self-explanatory:

It’s obvious it inspired this:

Or how about this lesser-known device as the inspiration:

For this:

Those of you familiar with old science fiction movies will recognize this gentleman:

But how many people would have predicted this?

In 1951, Isaac Asimov wrote this in “The Fun They Had”:

"'Gee,' said Tommy. 'What a waste. When you're through with the book, you just throw it away... Our television screen must have had a million books on it and it's good for plenty more. I wouldn't throw it away.'"

Sound anything like this?

So – my point here is NOT to trumpet the exactitude of science fiction writers predicting the future. There are, to tell you the truth, more dismal failures than shining dreams-come-true.

Aliens have NOT come forward.

There are NO colonies on the Moon, Mars, Titan or any other place but the colonies of fungus between my toes…

Science has not triumphed to bring utopia on Earth.

My point is to ask you to take a science fiction idea or invention (or one of your own) and twist it JUST enough to give something like flip open cell phones from Star Trek walkie-talkies. Cells – and in case you didn’t notice, flip opens are mostly owned by elder folk like myself! – only superficially resemble Star Trek communicators.

Iphones® bear only a vague relationship to Dick Tracy’s “Two Way Wrist Radio”.

Read more:

I’ll start with terraforming – that is, changing a planet that is definitely NOT Earth-like into one that IS. It’s an idea explored by writers like Pamela Sargent (the Venus series), Kim Stanley Robinson (The Mars Trilogy), Lois McMasters Bujold in Komarr, and Sarah Zettel (aka C.L. Anderson) in The Silent Invasion. To date terraforming has included crashing comets into a planet’s surface, seeding clouds with genetically engineered bacteria, melting subsurface ice, firing CFC rockets to increase greenhouse gases, focusing sunlight to vaporize water and increase temperature, shading from sunlight to decrease temperature, vaporizing moons to darken a surface, creating a solar shield out of floating cities, bombarding with magnesium and calcium, making space fountains to eject atmosphere into space – and there are others as well.

So let me twist it – we all KNOW that we couldn’t possible change a planet’s rotation. We certainly can’t change its gravitational field. But what if we could change the density of a planetary core? What if we sent a magnetic device (a toroid like those scientists are experimenting with to contain nuclear fusion) into the depths of Jupiter and extracted core material. Transportation to Mars or Venus – firing it in Venus’ case so that the impact would be at an oblique angle in the direction it is already rotating – would be accomplished with the same technology visionaries plan for moving comets. In both cases, we could open a “passage” for the super dense matter to follow. It would increase density of Mars allowing it to hold an atmosphere permanently and would provide enough inertia to strip away atmosphere of Venus on impact as well as speeding up its rotation to a more reasonable ten to fifteen hour day.

There’s mine. Do you have an idea you’d like to twist about?

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