Congratulations! Your New Baby Could Live to Be the Ripe Old Age of 1,000! Authors List How Science Fiction Ideas Are Now Science Fact

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), July 21, 2008 | Go to article overview

Congratulations! Your New Baby Could Live to Be the Ripe Old Age of 1,000! Authors List How Science Fiction Ideas Are Now Science Fact


Byline: Steffan Rhys

THE first human being to live for 1,000 years is already walking the Earth, a Welsh academic has claimed.

And he or she will already be at least four years old, owing their lifespan to the imminent ability of science to "cure" the ageing process and diseases.

Prof Mark Brake, of the University of Glamorgan, says this astounding fact is just one aspect of a future foreseen by science fiction writers decades - and even centuries - before becoming reality.

Perpetual big-brother style surveillance, an environment in crisis, space tourism, rogue pathogens, andhyper-connected computers are all elements of everyday life taken for granted in the 21st century.

In a new book, Future World, Prof Brake and his co-author, Rev Neil Hook, list examples of where science fiction has created a concept which has since become reality.

Among the most re" markable is the vision of the 17th century Bishop of Llandaff, Francis Godwin, of men walking on the moon and using mobile phones, which was published posthumously in 1638.

"The first moon voyage and alien contact story in the English language, The Man in the Moone, was written by Godwin," said Prof Brake. "The book's protagonist, Domingo Gonsales, ends up on the moon after trying to reach China being pulled by geese.

"While on the moon he encounters other beings, one of whom picks up a sea shell and uses it to communicate with his counterpart on Earth, hence the first mobile phone. Godwin boldly went where no man had gone before, so to speak, and the tale even influenced the Royal Society."

Great science fiction works like Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and George Orwell's 1984 are among those that predicted away of living that has since become reality.

Charles Darwin's theory of evolution generated a wave of alien-encounter literature, while the work of author HG Wells has been credited with inspiring the atom bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Godwin is not the only Welsh inspiration for visions of the future.

Kubrick's other sci-fi masterpiece, Dr Strangelove, was based on a book written by Peter Brian George from Treorchy.

In 2004, Cambridge University geneticist Aubrey de Grey sent shockwaves through the scientific world by claiming the first human to live for 1,000 years was already alive. This theory is backed by Prof Brake.

"We live in a world where media headlines trumpet the discovery of new planets, discuss the pros and cons of cloning, or explain the possibility of teleporting atoms," he told the Western Mail. …

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