Episode #1527

Flying Cars and Tricorders: How Sci-Fi Invented the Present

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Friday, July 04, 2014

An iPhone and a Star Trek-inspired tricorder An iPhone and a Star Trek-inspired tricorder (JD Hancock/flickr)

From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to George Orwell’s 1984 to Spike Jonze’s Oscar-winning Her, artists have imagined what the future will look like. In this week’s episode, Kurt Andersen explores how science fiction has shaped the world we’re living in right now. The inventor of the cell phone gives credit to Star Trek’s communicator; International Space Station superstar Chris Hadfield explains the ups and downs of space; and science writer Carl Zimmer says the giant sandworms of Dune got him interested in life on Earth. And we answer the age old question: where’s my flying car?
(Originally aired: January 24, 2014)

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Along with robots and ray guns, the 21st century was definitely supposed to include flying cars. What happened?

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The science writer Carl Zimmer was 10 years old when his family moved to rural New Jersey. He quickly made a new friend whose father was the prolific science fiction illustrator John ...

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