Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Drawing inspiration from science fiction

The military is doing all kinds of projects that seem to draw inspiration from science fiction. On an article I read on Forbes the other day, I saw exoskeletons that looked right out of Halo, tiny flying robots, a super-fast running robot, computer-controlled sharks, super-sonic planes, augmented reality contact lenses, flying HUMVs that can transform and go underwater, and planes that don't ever need to land. You can view the whole photo essay at the link above.
All of those things were cool, but by far the coolest thing (for me) was the shape-shifting robot pictured above. Sure, it's a long way from the T1000 in Terminator 2. This is a picture of their latest experiment of taking a material that can transition between liquid and solid based on pressure. In their words, "The resulting slushbot may someday be able to slip between cracks or holes in a barrier and re-form on the other side."

How long do you think it will be before someone builds one of these:
Do you think it's weird that so much science fiction seems to become science fact at some point?

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I for one kind of think it's a little strange. Fun...but strange.

Have a great Wednesday.

35 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Star Trek had computer tablets. And computers that didn't require keyboards. Now we have those!

Brinda said...

I think that we have lots of science fiction writers as scientists. They get to bring their imaginations to life. :)

Em-Musing said...

I think there's a big ether bank that all possibilities exist.Without knowing it, writers imagination taps into it, as do scientific minds. All things already exist...somewhere in the universe.

Rusty Webb said...

I do think it's weird, because you watch something like talking computers and warp drive on Star Trek and when some of that stuff goes from fiction to reality we expect all of it too.... no one need die from a automobile accident every again! Thanks to the all new Inertial Dampeners we've installed! We have to have that, because we've also got the tablets they used on Star Trek.

Andrew Leon said...

If I hadn't done this topic last year for A to Z, I'd certainly do it this year.

Slamdunk said...

Whoa, I'll have to show my older son slushbot; he will be impressed.

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

@Alex: That's a good point. Plus I hear NASA thinks warp drive may be possible.

@Brinda: It certainly seems that way. Or maybe all the scientists get into the field because of a childhood love for science fiction. Either way, I'm glad we have them around.

@Em: That's an interesting idea. I like it. So how can I get some of the more profitable ideas to come out of the ether and into my head LOL?

@Rusty: Great comment, Rusty. I'm so glad you think it's weird just like me.

@Andrew: I need a topic for A to Z.

@Slamdunk: Awesome. Thanks for visiting :)

Laura Eno said...

I agree with Em. We tap into some huge holding tank of ideas. :)

Daisy Carter said...

Okay, all I could see when I looked at the shape-shift thing was the dancing liquid mass that the guys on The Big Bang Theory made.

I don't know much about sci-fi OR science, but I'd love to have Rosie from the Jetson's to clean for me. Ooh, and that bot from Short Circuit to hang out with. He was cool.

Deana said...

Wow! That slushbot is totally nasty and totally cool!

Ted Cross said...

I wrote an essay in 11th grade English about the technologies I thought we would see in the future. The teacher gave me a C, saying that I was completely unrealistic, yet most of those predictions have already happened.

D.G. Hudson said...

Scientists need idea people, enter scifi writers.

I think it's great that robots are getting more interesting. And, loved Terminator, but wouldn't want to meet that metal guy. Morphing is definitely an asset.

Thanks for the links and the info.

Elise Fallson said...

Insects are definitely the future. Hence the need for more entomologists! :D

Anthony Welsch said...

That is insane and awesome. So they could make some sort of slushbot that can slide under a door, form into a camera, and take a photo of a potential crime scene or something? Think of all the commercial uses for something like this!

Catherine Stine said...

That blobby thingamajig is pretty darm creepy! But, yes, cool. Let us not forget that Arthur Clarke invented satellite technology a good fifteen years before it was implemented. Put that in your sci-fi pipe and smoke it.
BTW, just got Oculus! Looking forward to reading it.
Catherine Stine’s Idea City


J.L. Campbell said...

Shifting between liquid and solid can bring scare-inducing thoughts. Sounds like the stuff out of horror movies.

L.G. Smith said...

It's kind of cool. I mean, for a writer to make stuff up out of pure imagination and then have some scientist come along who figures out how to make it reality. I suppose genius is in the mind of the person who can do both. :)

Yolanda Renee said...

Was it science fiction when Frankenstein was created, or was it horror?

Now faces, hands, legs, and arms are being transplanted. This is awesome, and yet, once, only a horror story! Now it's life....

Wow!

Cherie Reich said...

Whoa! The slushbot is awesome! I guess it takes someone to come up with the idea, and then someone else to run with it. I do wonder what will come true later on. I'm still hoping for something that can take my thoughts and then type them onto the screen. It'd be so much quicker.

Hart Johnson said...

Okay, YOU might find that cool. I'm terrified! And yes, Terminator 2 might be responsible, but just the idea of it freaks me out a little...

Theresa Milstein said...

I don't think it's weird because both sci-fi and science are trying to use their imagination to move outside of what's known to what's possible. Science has the technology to eventually make it possible.

That robot looks like a tortellini or dumpling covered in a clear sauce.

J. A. Bennett said...

I love it! And I even love how all of those things have come a step futher. I've been re-watching Star Trek the Next Generation with my husband and it's been kinda fun to compare the concepts of then to now :)

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

@Laura: It almost sounds like a good space opera plot.

@Daisy: I love BBT! I know that exact episode in season 1.

@Deana: I agree.

@Ted: That's awesome. I shall visit your blog soon. You've been away for a while.

@D.G.: So it's kind of a reciprocal yin yang type thing goin' on, right?

@Elise: I still don't get how you are not creeped out by insects. Maybe that's what makes you such a cool girl.

@Anthony: Oh I'm sure the military has.

@Catherine: Thanks so much for taking the time to read my book. I shall repay the favor.

@Joy: It kinda does, doesn't it. The shark thing is really creepy too.

@L.G.: An interesting thought. I suppose you are right.

@Yolanda: It was horror, I think.

@Cherie: They're almost there. Dragon Naturally Speaking can do 120 words a minute now.

@Hart: It freaks me out too.

@Theresa: Eep. I wonder what it tastes like.

@J.A.: As Alex pointed out, they have iPads.

M Pax said...

I'll have to show my Husband Unit the shapeshifting robot. He'll love that. I thought it was a tooth when your blog first came up. I'm glad you didn't talk about teeth though.

Helena said...

When I was a little kid there were predictions that in the future everyone would have a computer in their home. I didn't believe it.

I saw a show sometime back that explained how many scientists grew up on Star Trek and Star Wards and how those stories influenced their inventions. So yes, there's a Terminator in our near future.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I think it shows how brilliant lots of writers are. I'm getting a little worried about the animal farm thing

Liz said...

I saw the same show Helena saw. I think some of it is that scientists saw this stuff on sci fi and wanted to make it real (the bit on the show about mp3s blew my mind) and some of it is what Em-Musing said. (Since I get to the commenting so late, my comments are usually repeats.)

Madeline Jane said...

Another reason to love science fantasy! And another reason why writers should get paid more. ;)

Stephen Hayes said...

Do you think it's weird that so much science fiction seems to become science fact at some point?

Not all all. Anything that can be imagined is possible.

Tonja said...

Now I'm going to have nightmares about robots that look like Chinese dumplings. Awesome.

Callie Leuck said...

I'll just be over here giggling about "slushbot"

Danette said...

I'm still waiting for the Jetson"s flying cars... ;)

tfwalsh said...

That is pretty cool... it's amazing if they could pull it off.

Nigel Mitchell said...

It's not surprising they get ideas from science fiction. But some of them seem like the government goes too far. Like MKULTRA, where they tried to develop mind control. Or when they tried to make a bomb that would turn enemy soldiers gay. True story, Google it

Adina West said...

Not quite on topic, but I think that slushbot looks like a chinese steamed bun.

But there certainly are some things people would have dismissed as pure fantasy fifty years ago that we can do now. Landing on the moon, for one! And there have been plenty more advances since then.