Sounds Like the Future: Science From Science Fiction

According to the LA Times, the problem with silent electric cars is that they’re… well… silent.  And thus more dangerous to pedestrians and others not encased in their own steel bubble.

Nissan thinks they’ve found a way to change this; their new Leaf car will have “a beautiful and futuristic sound” that is “closer to the world of art” – and which apparently sounds like the “spinners” in Blade Runner.

This is all part of an awesome chicken-and-egg effect wherein science fiction ultimately influences science. Much has been made of the influence Star Trek has had on science, most notably the flip cell phone.  And who hasn’t read Snow Crash and thought about the Internet today?

Every time a portrayal of the future becomes popular, it’s like it opens a little door in mass expectations, and that, in turn, influences the scientists who come up with this stuff (and let’s face it, they’re probably fans too).    From flying cars to FTL space travel, we all have our expectations and dreams for the future, and chances are they were shaped by something we read or saw.

So here’s what I want to know:  what fictional technology, however small or large, do you think has a shot at becoming reality?  And where were you first exposed to the concept?

As for myself, I love the evolution of transit in Julian May’s Galactic Milieu series.  I’m not a huge fan of driving – I get nervous – so I like the idea of autopilot, whether it’s on the ground or in the air.  And the emphasis on speed – that you can pay a tax to take the super fast lane – seems like something that would actually be well-received.

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