Sometimes life imitates art. In his popular sci-fi novel, Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury accurately predicted the invention of earbuds. He described them as “thimble radios” that produced an “electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk…” He’s one of many sci-fi authors to imagine fantastic situations and technology that were eventually developed.
Even today’s authors are accurately predicting the future. In Marvel’s Superior Ironman #2 Tony Stark gets shot point-blank in the face, but he’s uninjured because his face is protected by a thin sheet of graphene. And, it’s not an unlikely scenario because anyone can actually find graphene sheets for sale and use them to build awesome new tech.
Graphene is a fascinating material, so it’s not gone unnoticed by sci-fi producers. It’s nearly see-through and scientists at Rice University and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst have tested its bulletproof capabilities.
Because of graphene, many of the world’s most outrageous and unbelievable sci-fi predictions will come true. The super-material will be responsible for advancements and wondrous new technologies that were once only the fantasies of the world’s most prolific sci-fi writers.
Skin Embedded Wearable Devices
“The Father of Science Fiction,” Hugo Gernsback correctly predicted video conferencing. The idea of FaceTime can be attributed to his serial, Ralph 124c 41+ which included a device called the “telephot.” It allowed people to see and speak to each other over long distances. Gernsback contributed greatly to the sci-fi genre, and is the reason Hugo Awards are still given to the best sci-fi and fantasy novels.
The telephot is a lot like webcam interfacing, but today’s video conferencing is far more nuanced and creative. It’s a bit more like William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer, which seems to have influenced the development of the Internet. Although it’s unlikely people will ever want to enter a 3D online world via firmware ports hollowed into their skulls, our videoconferencing may someday take place on an embedded or skin-grafted wearable device.
Graphene is 200 times more powerful than steel, but is being used to computerize contact lenses. It’s also being used to develop wearable tech that’s located on or in our skin. James Cameron predicted this reality in the screenplay for The Terminator. And it’s something that comes up a lot in popular sci-fi.
For more, you can read about these fascinating develops on Grolltex’s Graphene Updates page.
Moon Colonies and Cordless Appliances
Asimov is the greatest science fiction author of all time, and he made the most predictions about modern inventions in his NYT piece, Visit to the World’s Fair of 2014. He predicted driverless cars, smartphones, and the blandness of today’s robots. He also predicted several things that seemed too far-fetched, but are frighteningly accurate due to recent advancements with graphite.
He predicted moon colonies, but how can we colonize the moon when we can barely afford to get astronauts into space? Rocket fuel isn’t cheap, but it’s possible graphene can be powered by starlight. Acting as a sort of solar sail, a graphene spaceship may be able to travel through space farther and with more accuracy.
Although there is little predicted as to how graphene will affect the appliances in our home, it is known that LG, General Electric, and more have taken a great interest in graphene. Also, graphene will be used to develop photovoltaic window screens and curtains that will help to power your home, which could help aid the development of cordless appliances.
No sci-fi article is complete with a nod to the most absurd and second-most prolific author in the genre, Philip K Dick. As far as futurology goes, Dick is often the most cited and copied author because his inventions are unforgettable; some so mind-bending, they are unlikely to ever grace our world.
1955’s Autofac featured a self-replicating factory. It was powered by nanorobots (another industry graphene is set to revolutionize). Other tech that Dick predicted and graphene is sure to create or enhance are androids, replacement organs, electronic eye glasses, and Ersatz windows.
Graphene is a two-dimensional carbon allotrope that was extracted from graphite in 2004. Scientists knew it existed, but couldn’t figure out a way to get to it. It’s the stuff that sci-fi is made of because of its wide range of applications and the daring way it was discovered. The next time you pick up a weathered copy of your favorite sci-fi novel, consider that the futuristic tech may just become possible thanks to the power of graphene.