Tech Talker dives into the world of science fiction technology to find the coolest gadgets we wish were real today.
Next up is the warp drive. This isn’t just a next generation hard drive; a warp drive is a device that allows spaceships to travel faster than the speed of light. This is an extremely popular device in Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars and a whole host of other space-related TV and movies.
This device drastically cuts down on the time it takes to go anywhere in space. After all, if the most popular space movies used current space propulsion technology it would be pretty boring.
“Sir, let’s set course to the nearest star system!”
“All right but that will take us a few thousand years!”
It just doesn’t have the same effect, right? In sci-fi films and shows, spaceships like the Millennium Falcon can simply jump in and out of warp speed, traveling faster than the speed of light to explore worlds far beyond our galaxy.
This is another piece of tech that isn’t completely impossible from a truly scientific standpoint. In fact, a NASA physicist has been working on just that - a spaceship that can traverse distances faster than the speed of light.
Now before you scream in horror for thinking that I just violated one of Einstein’s rules (that nothing can exceed the speed of light), in this case physicists are theorizing on bending space. They would be creating negative space in the front of a ship and positive space in the back of the ship to propel it forward.
As you may imagine, this isn’t very easy technology to create. If this type of device pans out, it probably won’t be seen in my lifetime. But anything that pushes us closer to having a real Millennium Falcon is OK by me!
Next up is the shrink ray. You've likely seen this type of gadget in a cartoons and movies alike. It's a device that has the ability to shrink anything into the size of an action figure or a bacterium (remember the movies, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Innerspace?). I loved the idea of a smaller version of myself that could experience the world from a totally new perspective
As a kid I always thought that it would be awesome to shrink myself by half and that way I would have twice as much of whatever candy or pizza I was eating. I also always thought it would be awesome to build an extremely nice house really small and just shrink myself when I got home. That way I could buy a couple of square feet of oceanfront property and - voila! Instant mansion.
Sadly, shrink rays are simply science fiction at this point. It would be hard enough moving molecules from one point to another, but actually shrinking the atomic structure might be a tad more difficult… and explosive!
Last but certainly not least is probably everyone’s favorite piece of sci-fi tech, the time machine. This comes in many different flavors across the sci-fi universe, whether it’s Dr. Who’s Tardis, Terra Nova’s time gate, or a DeLorean DMC-12.
Who hasn’t wished that they could correct a mistake, have lunch with a deceased loved one, or even hang out with dinosaurs? The uses for time travel are pretty limitless, but also riddled with peril if used incorrectly.
One major paradox in many of these sci-fi movies is that if you affect the past so that you were never born, wouldn’t that have prevented you from going back in the first place? This type of circular thinking drives me crazy! I would be all for a device that just let you observe the past (without messing with it). The ability to just glimpse the past could solve so many mysteries and would be an incredible tool!
Sadly it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting this anytime soon either (not unless we figure out a way to harness the power of a couple of suns and channel them into a wormhole!)
I know what you're thinking - that talking about all of this sci-fi is pretty silly. But at the same time, it's also pretty awesome. It can help us put technology and scientific discovery into perspective. Take a look at today from the eyes of someone from 1950. Cell phones, computers, the internet - all of this stuff that we use daily would have been just like sci-fi to a person in the 1950s. So who knows, maybe we’ll be teleporting and zipping across the galaxy in another 60 years!
Well, that’s it for today! Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at quickanddirtytips.com/tech-talker. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post them on Facebook.com/QDTtechtalker.
Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!