Continuing the retrospective of the year about to end that I began with Ebola best and worst for 2014 and Happy to rewind 2014 in entertainment and social media, I'm going to run with the "sustainability with a science fiction slant" that I use to describe this blog on its Facebook page to repeat another catch phrase of mine, "we live in science fiction times."* I begin with Marianne Lavelle of National Geographic News describing Four 2015 Energy Ideas 'Back to the Future' Got (Almost) Right.
Hoverboards, flying cars, and auto-fueling are closer than you think, and garbage energy is here.So we're not quite getting flying cars, but we are getting self-driving cars, a necessary precursor. That's a science-fiction idea will make car travel safer that isn't a massive energy hog, which is good enough for me.
Energy is so cheap and easy in 2015 that we all have flying cars and robot gas attendants. That's not the reality as of New Year's Day, of course, but rather the "future" depicted in the hit 1989 movie Back to the Future Part II.
It's easy to feel bitter that we're still stuck in traffic on the ground, pumping our own gas, and now worrying about climate change, to boot.
Director Robert Zemeckis never intended to paint a realistic forecast, but it's amazing how much of his vision of energy is taking shape. Science is trying to deliver not only skyward transport and renewable fuel, but also efficiency and solutions to lower greenhouse gases.
Follow over the jump for more science fiction technologies that have come true.
Nick Stockton of Wired also writes about science fiction technologies, including hoverboards, coming true in The Craziest Sci-Fi Fantasies That Got Closer to Reality This Year.
In 1964, Isaac Asimov wrote that in 50 years we’d be living in a science fiction reality. Among his prophesies that have now arrived are instant coffee, driverless cars, and robots to vacuum our homes.I've mentioned Asimov's predictions coming true at the start of the year. As for the others in the Wired gallery, "blood-borne health care bots" missed one. There was something similar in "The Gift From Earth," a book I referred to in Did we just discover Plateau? It was a bioengineered rotifer that cleaned plaque out of arteries. The Wired article missed that one.
But Asimov wasn’t the only sci-fi visionary, and his predictions seem quaint against some of 2014’s actual advances, such as robotic arm transplants, cloned pets, and quantum teleportation. Here is a gallery of the technologies that brought us closer to—or in a few cases fulfilled completely—the promises made in our favorite works of science fiction.
As for the other predictions, the first step in the food replicator has come true with Foodini, a 3-D printer that creates food items. That alone justifies the use of Star Trek in the image I used.
Stay tuned for more retrospectives on science, environment, health, and energy in 2014. Some may not be as positive as this one.
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