Friday, June 1, 2012

When Fiction Guides Science

The Star Trek PADD app for the iPad

Mind control is something that has been visited and re-visited in fiction from Luke Skywalker using his Jedi mind tricks to The Matrix. This week The Wall Street Journal ran an article called, "Mind-Controlled Videogames Become a Reality".  By simply using a headset from a company called NeuroSky according to the Journal (I have not tried this myself), "The gadgets translate brains waves into digital information and beam it wirelessly to computers and other devices."

The company is using medical technology and translating into gaming technology to make sci-fi mind control real.

This is pretty cool, but it brings us to a larger point -- about how fiction can lead science and technology. Would the iPad exist without Star Trek? Would the cell phone have come about so quickly with out Star Trek's personal communicators? (There's a great post here on The Top Ten Star Trek Technologies That Actually Came True.)

A few months ago scientists at Cornell announced the had invented a temporal time cloak of sorts that could hide an event in time. It's like Hermione Granger's time turner or perhaps the beginning of some form of future time travel.

Is it collective consciousness that leads us all to dream of these same advances, or does successful fiction lead the way? I think it's a little of both. What do you think?

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