Episode #1527

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

« previous episode | next episode »

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)

You’re Living in a Science Fiction Story

It’s easy to look back at old science fiction and see it as silly. But there are important ideas embedded in those stories that influenced scientists and the way technology developed. Take the first science fiction film, Le Voyage dans La Lune or A Trip to the Moon, based on a story by Jules Verne ...

Comment

Kirk to Enterprise: The Piece of Star Trek in Your Pocket

“By 2013, I literally envisioned that I would be retiring on the moon,” says Candy Torres, a former software engineer for the International Space Station. Like so many scientists of her generation, Torres grew up watching Star Trek in the late 1960s. On the Enterprise ...

Comment

Chris Hadfield: How to Brush Your Teeth in Space

Chris Hadfield’s recent cover of David Bowie’s classic song “Space Oddity” has more than 20 million views on YouTube. And not because of Hadfield’s voice (which isn’t bad, for an astronaut). Commander Hadfield was singing the song in space aboard the International Space Station ...

 

Comment

Will Computers Take Over the World?

It’s been a trope in science fiction for years: someday the computers will become self-aware and take over. But in 1993, the computer scientist and science fiction author Vernor Vinge wrote a serious academic paper in which he predicted that we were only a few decades away from that ...

 

Comment

Annalee Newitz: The Future Is Coming to Get You

Scientists and science writers can rattle off all the sci-fi that inspired them to build great things. But Annalee Newitz, editor of io9, thinks that dystopian science fiction is less inspirational, but more influential. Dystopian sci-fi cautions against our hubris. For example, when Google bought ...

Bonus Track: Kurt Andersen’s extended conversation with Annalee Newitz

Comments [2]

Will Your Next Car Fly?

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

Comments [2]

Carl Zimmer on Giant Sandworms

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 Schoenherr. Zimmer hadn’t read Dune, or seen Schoenherr’s unforgettable illustrations of sandworms. ...

Slideshow: Jack Schoenherr’s paintings

Comment

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.