There is a fascinating new trend at the intersection of art and science that has really gotten my attention. In a nutshell, it is an exploration of if and how science fiction has an impact on science fact. You know what I mean...did the Star Trek tricorder predict the IPhone, is Dick Tracy's watch the reason we now have the Apple Watch, or is the Hal 9000 from 2001 a Space Odyssey actually Siri's grandfather? (Apologies to non-Apple innovations but these three were first to come to mind). And my all-time favorite example is Jules Verne predicting three men launched to the moon in a capsule from Southern Florida in From the Earth to the Moon, written in 1865!
And while these predictions were cool in their own right, they represent something else that I think is much more important...they each present a positive vision of the future for us to aspire to. As usual, Arizona Science Center is right on top of this issue.
I'm so proud that we recently opened a fantastic new exhibit Popnology: Where Science Fiction is Science Fact, (http://azscience.org/popnology) which examines this intersection of art, popular culture and science. By exploring the themes of how we play, create, connect, move, live and work, Popnology shows us in glorious detail how popular culture and science fiction have led to some remarkable innovations...and as usual, this is done in a fun and engaging manner that is appealing to our young audience. Popnology shows our kids that creative imagination leads to amazing realities.
I think this is really important, to let our kids know that what they and others can imagine, can actually come to be. It reminds the current generation to be hopeful about the future, just as previous generations were. Too often today our children are presented with prophesied doom...whether caused by societal collapse or environmental disaster, we have few images of the future that are offered that are inspiring and uplifting. We see this in much of the recent popular culture, be it movies, video games or graphic novels (...we used to call them comic books). Over and again the future is presented as a dystopian nightmare, populated by zombies and mutants ruling a barren landscape. The good news is that this is starting to change in a serious way.
Right here in our own backyard at Arizona State University, The Center for Science and the Imagination is tackling this issue head on. Working with some of our leading science fiction writers such as Neal Stephenson and Cory Doctorow, they are meeting the challenge of creating new positive visions for our future through science fiction. (http://hieroglyph.asu.edu/)
And it's not just in science Centers and universities where this issue is being discussed. Recently a meeting was convened by the White House at the Science Fiction Museum in Washington DC to explore how science fiction can help us figure out how to colonize the solar system (http://gizmodo.com/the-white-house-wants-to-use-science-fiction-to-settle-1761748987>here<) If you read or saw "the Martian" you get the idea....they want to "science the "bleep" out of it"
Others are taking it one step further, such as the folks behind afrofuturism, seeking to link science fiction with social justice, and creating positive visions of the future from an African American perspective...I really respect this work. (http://www.vox.com/2016/3/4/11157938/afrofuturism-scifi-social-justice)
I'm convinced we can impact all of our futures by the stories we tell ourselves and our children. I love the fact that we can play a leading role in this movement right here at Arizona Science Center! Join us, won't you?