Monday, April 02, 2012

Can't Wait To See What's Next

I have always been a big fan of science fiction books, TV and movies. Whether reading books by Jules Vern or Arthur C. Clarke or watching on TV the various iterations of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek, I was fascinated by the various technologies that were common place and integrated into the stories. Who wasn’t blown away when they watched the first of the Star Wars movies?

What captivates my attention more then anything else is how close to reality these works of fiction really are. I recently re-read Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea written almost 150 years ago. Vern, writing about the undersea voyages of Captain Nemo aboard the Nautilus, describes in great detail machines, weapons and navigational techniques. It took more than 75 years before they were actually realized, but the fact is they were.

Star Trek is replete with gadgets and technologies that seemed outlandish in 1966 but today are part of our daily life. In fact, some of the devices used on the show are looked at as outdated by today’s standards. Who still has a flip phone? Nevertheless, watching any show will surface many devices we use today. Instead of asking your second mate to lay in a course to the Ursa Major galaxy, we instruct our GPS to get us to the closest Ikea store. Our doctors now regularly use tools like Dr. McCoy’s that can scan our bodies non-invasively.

How often did we see Captain Jean-Luc Picard in his quarters reading from a device that looks like an “iPad” or signing his name to some set of directions or orders from subordinates using a device that is now carried by most every Fedex or UPS driver?

Perhaps the most exciting thing is, that if indeed these technologies have come to fruition in such a relatively short time, what are we going to see in the next five or ten years? We have to remember that for our grandparents the idea of having a device in your pocket the size of a pack of cigarettes that can be used to contact and converse with almost anyone in the world is as unbelievable as stepping into a phone booth and being transported to some neighboring city. We’re half way there. We can change matter into energy. We just need to be able to get it back to matter at the other end…and hopefully in the same configuration.

Beam me up, Scotty!

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