Before the time of Columbus, the concept of Earth being round was considered ridiculous. Galileo was branded a heretic for asserting that the sun – not the Earth – was the center of our solar system. At the end of the 19th century, few believed we would one day fly. In the 1950s, the vast majority never imagined humans walking on the moon. During the 1970s, computers were thought to be a passing phase. Until the late 20th century, who could have envisioned the incredible power of the Internet?
Many science fiction writers in the past have accurately predicted some of today’s reality. Why do we have trouble believing that much of today’s science fiction will become science fact in the future?
For example, Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, had a wonderful vision of the future. He saw a time when mankind would no longer be at war with each other, when poverty was a thing of the past, and when we traveled to distant stars faster than the speed of light.
Some aspects of Star Trek have already become a reality. For example, computers have become a vital part of our lives and now respond to voice commands. Lasers are similar to the phasers envisioned by Roddenberry. Who is to say that his other creations – such as warp drive or matter/energy converters – will not be invented?
The notion that we are the only intelligent life in the universe is ludicrous. It makes no sense to assume that Earth has the only life in a universe with millions of stars.
A true scientist has an attitude of humility and an open mind about what may be possible. There are things we think we know, and other things we do not yet know or understand. This is more rational than saying certain ideas are true and others are false. This latter type of thought is both vain and unscientific.
To have a glimpse of our possible future, we need look no further than the world of science fiction. Good science fiction will take us to the cutting edge of our dreams.