Science Brings Real Life to the Technologies of Fiction

Article excerpt

Every once in a while, science manages to reach the imaginative realm of technological sophistication usually reserved for science fiction. Or at least begins to take the first small steps in that direction.

Consider, for instance, the visionary motion picture classic Forbidden Planet (1956). It offered all sorts of futuristic technology for scientists to envy--hyperdrive for spacecraft propulsion, quantum subspace communication and an intelligent and articulate robot.

But by far the most impressive achievement discovered by Leslie Nielsen on planet Altair-4 was the extinct Krell's technology for achieving "civilization without instrumentalities." Krell scientists believed they could harness the power of thought to free them from dependence on physical instruments. That was the power borrowed by Walter Pidgeon's Dr. Morbius to create his monsters from the id. Put more plainly, it was the ability of the brain's mental power to drive the motion of machinery.

Morbius could harness his mental energy to generate three-dimensional images and conjure up virtual creatures capable of killing. Today's scientists and engineers would prefer to transform thoughts into the control of beneficial devices, such as prosthetic limbs. …