Real Life Science Fiction Technology

Once Unimaginable Tech

Image from: Robert Radford /

Today, flying internationally is affordable, and almost routine for many people.  Sending devices into near space is done as a publicity stunt, and instant, wireless communication is so common that most people donâ??t even stop to think about how amazing it is that theyâ??re using a handheld, battery powered device to communicate with people across the other side of the world.

Itâ??s easy to dismiss teleportation and invisibility cloaks as being the stuff of science fiction, but many of the things that we use routinely today were staples of sci-fi just 50 years ago.  If we can imagine something, scientists will inevitably strive to achieve it.  Letâ??s take a look at some of the technologies that science fiction made popular and that are now part of reality.

The Submarine

Jules Verne is often credited with â??inventingâ? the submarine, but the machine he wrote about was actually inspired by one that had been used by the Confederacy a few years before he wrote Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  Verne took the stories he had heard, and tried to imagine what a submarine could do in a more refined form.

Today, going deep under water is pretty routine; you can even take submarine tours when youâ??re on holiday.

The Radar

In 1911, Hugo Gernsback wrote about a â??pulsating polarized ether waveâ? that could be used to detect large objects.  His description was detailed enough that it could be classed as a prediction, rather than just a description of some strange and fantastic device.  A working form of radar was finally developed in 1933.  Today, radars are an essential part of aviation.

Automatic Sliding Doors

While automatic sliding doors donâ??t sound that exciting, thereâ??s some pretty cool technology powering them.  The first door that opened under its own power was created about 2000 years ago by Heron of Alexandria; he used steam and pressure to make temple doors open and close.  The part that belonged in the realm of science fiction was the â??automaticâ? part.  H.G. Wells described automatic sliding doors back in 1899 in When the Sleeper Wakes.  He wrote about two men that â??walked straight to the dead wall of the apartment opposite the archwayâ? of course, instead of walking into the wall, â??a long strip of this apparently solid wall rolled up with a snapâ?.

Today, automatic doors are so common that weâ??re more likely to be confused when a door doesnâ??t open for us, than when it does.

The Atomic Bomb

Several authors wrote about an â??atomic bombâ? before the bomb was invented, but H.G. Wells is generally credited with having popularized the term.  In 1914, Wells wrote about a scientist that â??set up atomic disintregration in a minute particle of bismuth; it exploded with great violence into a heavy gas of radio-activityâ?.  Manhattan Project scientist Leo Szilard said that he believed Wellsâ?? forecast of the applications of atomic energy could prove to be more accurate than the forecasts made by scientists.

This article was written by Amy Fowler on behalf of Automatic Access, suppliers of automatic sliding doors. Visit their site to find out more about automatic sliding doors.


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