There is an undebatable co-dependency between science and science fiction. Many science fiction writers being scientists themselves, or scientists gaining inspiration from the genre. Either way, it becomes a bit of a chicken and egg- Esque scenario, where we donât know whether the fiction influenced the science, or the science influenced the fiction.
Here a few examples of fiction influencing science
The Cell Phone
The director of research and development at Motorola, Martin Cooper admitted that the communicator in Star Trek became the companies âobjectiveâ in terms of a design for the first mobile phone which was released in the early 1970âs.
After reading H.G Wellsâ 1914 novel The World Set Free in 1933, Physicist Leo Szilard was inspired to solve the problem of creating a nuclear chain reaction. This is because the book imagines the emergence of artificialâ atomic energy followed by a tragic world war and the eventual emergence of a peaceful global government. Similarly, H.G Wellsâ novel inspired Szilard to campaign for arms control and the peaceful, international use of nuclear power after World War II.
Jules Verneâs 1870 Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, was the inspiration for the American inventor, Simon Lakes modern submarine. His company successfully created the Argonautâthe first submarine to operate in the open ocean, in 1898.
The French author Jules Verne influenced others to create with his literature. Verneâs book Clipper of the CloudsÂ envisioned a future of air travel. This inspired Igor Sikorsky as a boy, who later went on to invent the first successful helicopter.
The inventor of the first liquid-fueled rocket, which was launched into space on the 16h of March 1926, was first inspired by H.G. WellsâÂ novel, War of the Worlds. RobertÂ H. Goddard, the inventor, became interested in space flight after reading the story in a newspaper. He later recalled thatÂ the idea of interplanetary flight âgripped my imagination tremendously.â.
Other possibilities of Sci-Fi
As well as influencing Science and the progression of technology, science fiction can serve another positive purpose. Namely, dystopian fiction can work as a self-defeating prophecy, helping us to recognise and prevent certain unwanted possible futures. They can function as a how-to-not manual, presenting a world which we could end up living in.
To read more about how Science Fiction has the potential to improve our future, follow this link.
To try your hand at writing a Science Fiction novel, and see how real your ideas become, click here.
Written by Isabel Shaw