Eric Henry

Director, Software Quality, Medtronic, Inc

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Is science fiction a laboratory for new ideas, or is the relationship purely coincidental?

Hannah Fry's talk is reminiscent of the idea of psychohistory proposed by Isaac Asimov in his 1950s "Foundation" series. Some of Frank Herbert's later "Dune" books discussed human capabilities for parallel processing (i.e. conscious multitasking), which has been the subject of some research in past years.

Are there other connections out there? Is there are cause / effect relationship between science fiction and new ideas? If so, in which direction does it flow?

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    Aug 9 2012: Arthur C. Clarke
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      Aug 9 2012: Peter, great reference! If you look at some of the video Arthur C. Clarke recorded in the 1960s, he was frighteningly accurate about many of today's technological achievements. A guy who worked for me several years ago went on a cruise around the Indian Ocean with Mr. Clarke, as a young man, and described him as a true visionary.
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        Aug 9 2012: 2001 A Space Odyssey is remarkable in that you can still watch the movie and all the stuff makes sense. From the velcro booties the stewardess wears to the use of centrifugal artificial gravity you stil look at it and think "yeah that would work" which is highly unusual for sci-fi. Plus they don't name satellite orbits after sci-fi wrtiers very often.
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    Aug 8 2012: http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_diamandis_abundance_is_our_future.html

    Peter Diamandis talks about an X Prize contest to create a cell phone that can diagnose illnesses. this would work much like the Tri-Corder used by Spock and Bones.
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    Aug 9 2012: We have a space shuttle named Enterprise.
    We've got communicators.

    I'm just waiting for tri-corders.
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    Aug 9 2012: All science fiction are born from some science, just like all lies are born from some truth.

    I think sci-fi is great for coming up with new ideas! It's got the balance of constraint of realism, but also freedom of "unrealism"
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    Aug 9 2012: Whether one writes a fiction or not......scientist's first new thought fictitious until it is proven....
    New scientific thoughts , ideas may also start purely in imagination like literary work.....that's where the relation is.....other is the convergence of ideas and thoughts while people are facing same challenges
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    Aug 9 2012: Is todays science fiction started by games?
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      Aug 9 2012: Could be. I'll have to say that my science fiction peak ( I read mostly technical material and history today ) involved books written from the 1950s through the early 1990s. I'm a fan of writers such as Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Orson Scott Card, and Greg Bear.
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    Aug 8 2012: Scientists and writers are creative thinkers; some scientists are innovators and like writers, they have to use their imagination.
    The difference is between someone who imagined a world where a certain newly invented technology or device is part of the material culture; and someone who imagines a new possibility that pushes his or her level of knowledge into new grounds, and goes ahead to create it physically.
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    Aug 8 2012: I think the ideas feed eachother. Science fiction writers come up with new ideas that are subsequently developed in science. But the writers also draw on science for inspiration.

    One of the most known science fiction writers is Jules Verne. He predicted space exploration and deep sea submersibles 100 years before science caught up with him.

    My personal belief is that if anyone can think of an idea, sooner or later it will be realized. Creation happens in our minds, the rest is "just" a matter of development.
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      Aug 9 2012: Do you think we are in an era of experiment overload? so many papers are being submitted that there is not enough people to review each one properly?
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        Aug 9 2012: I worked in nuclear science for 10 years and every year 1000's of papers were published on all sorts of exotic subjects. It was a little overwhelming and made me feel very small. Until I realized that papers are scientific currency, much as dollars are business currency. The quality of a scientist os measured, literally, by the number of papers he or she has published. I don't know the exact number but my guess is that 90% of papers are incremental knowledge. A scientist wants to go to this cool conference in Hawaii and must publish to go there. So he takes his last paper and adds a new statistic.

        Only a small number of papers are worth reading. They concern real progress and they are the one's that need to be reviewed. Obviously, if you are a scientist who specializes in the changing patterns of veins in the top left corner of the wings of common flies, then you will probably be a critical reader of all papers on that subject but otherwise, we should stay at a high level and only read that which is relevant.
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          Aug 9 2012: Thanks Henk

          I had read this in articles somewhere and your post brought it back out of the closet,thanks
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    Aug 8 2012: There was an entire program presided over by Captain Kirk on how all of the inventions and technologies of Star Trek had come into common use starting with the cell phone, excuse me communicator.
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      Aug 8 2012: At that time I worked at CERN and the team I worked in had just created the first anti-hydrogen atoms using antiprotons and positrons. A BBC crew (and others) came to do a special on the TEchnology and Science of Star Trek. As team lead, they made me act out Captain Kirk.. :))))
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        Aug 8 2012: That's a great experience to share here!