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Technology in Movies: Fact and Fiction

An excellent example of science fiction turned science fact is the Star Trek communicator. It is virtually identical in function to today's cellular phones, but it was envisioned nearly 30 years before it became a common accessory. Many other parallels of Star Trek concepts to everyday life are illustrated in a short article from the winter 2002 Albright College newsletter (1). Researchers at the Australian National University have accomplished a feat that also originated with Star Trek. The team demonstrated the transportation of a beam of light. A BBC news report (2) describes the specifics of the research, and also includes a separate section that ponders whether human transportation will ever be possible. Several of James Bond's gadgets are highlighted at this Web site (3). A few opposing viewpoints are provided, which contrast real spy devices to the ones used by 007. At a trade show held in June 2002, an industry representative suggested that companies should use Bond-like tactics to help in the war on terrorism (4). This could take the form of technology development, and the cooperation between government and corporations was encouraged in the speech amusingly titled "James Bond Saves the USA." A discussion about technology from Bond movies would not be complete without a look at the real-life counterparts of the films' spy devices. The International Spy Museum (5) has a large collection of items from the CIA, KGB, and elsewhere. Some of the amazing gadgets described on this site include a lipstick pistol, a poison gas gun, and a coat with a buttonhole camera. An interesting essay about futuristic visions in science fiction movies is given at this site (6). It traces examples all the way back to the 1903 film A Trip to the Moon. A collection of lesson plans for different grade levels is presented by the NASA Explores program (7). The activities encourage students to think about science fiction's effect on their lives, and how devices once limited to the imagination have become reality. Another resource, provided through NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is a pair of lectures given in November 2002. They address topics of space exploration, intelligent robots, and how recent advances in these areas compare to science fiction. This site (8) contains the news release about the lectures, while giving a link to the archive where the Web casts can be viewed.
Date Issued
Date of Scout Publication
December 6th, 2002
Date Of Record Creation
April 8th, 2003 at 10:21am
Date Of Record Release
April 8th, 2003 at 10:21am
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