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  1. #1

    Science Fiction Terms that are now used in Real Life

    Hey All!

    I was watching this pretty cool interview with Iain M. Banks, Alastair Reynolds and Peter F. Hamilton:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZnZnza8Kng

    But it got me thinking... around the 20 minute mark, the authors touch on some science fiction inventions/terms/ideas that have actually gone from the page to real life. Along the lines of: Jules Verne's submarine (not sure if he invented the concept though) or Heinlein inventing the waterbed (according to Hamilton in the interview) or that touchscreens were brought to public awareness in Star Trek and a Hitchhiker's Guide to the galaxy or that automatic sliding doors were a science fiction concept at first. I'm sure the list goes on and on...

    I'm interested to see what else was derived from science fiction media and now has application or is used in everyday life. So when my friends give me a hard time with my book choices and tell me that science fiction is just fantasy (which gets me real heated - but that's a different topic for another day), I can tell them, "Hey, without Star Trek or a Hitchhiker's Guide to the galaxy, you wouldn't have your precious touchscreen iPhone."

    I'm also looking for science fiction authors who "coined" terms that are now widely used. (i.e. William Gibson coined the term "cyberspace")

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Hi Kris. Good question. There are loads of these, but here's a few to get you started. Sure other people will add more:

    Robot
    Terraforming (Jack Williamson 1940's)
    Humanoid (also Jack Williamson 1940's)
    Android

    Heinlein and the waterbed, by the way, is true.

    M.
    Mark

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbit View Post
    Hi Kris. Good question. There are loads of these, but here's a few to get you started. Sure other people will add more:

    Robot
    Terraforming (Jack Williamson 1940's)
    Humanoid (also Jack Williamson 1940's)
    Android

    Heinlein and the waterbed, by the way, is true.

    M.
    Awesome! thanks Hobbit!...I was thinking that there has got some astronomical terms derived from science fiction as well... I just couldn't come up with any :/

    Also, just a side note, in Blue Remembered Earth by A. Reynolds,
    Spoiler:
    one of characters alluded to Gulliver's Travels by J. Swift and said that book gave Mars two moons before anyone actually knew Mars had two moons. And sure enough, I checked this fact out on (I'm sorry - cough) Wikipedia (cough) which said this:

    "Historical Oddity - Swift made reference to the moons of Mars about 150 years before their actual discovery by Asaph Hall, detailing reasonably accurate descriptions of their orbits, in the 19th chapter of the book (that is, in Part 3, Chapter 3)."


  4. #4
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    Yes, Heinlein invented the waterbed, in Stranger In A Strange Land. He also invented the "waldo" remote handler in the short story?/novella? (it has been a long time since I read it) Waldo.

  5. #5
    I think the word 'starship' itself was used for the first time in Star Trek, but I could be wrong.

    If we ever produce a device that allows faster than light communications, it will almost certainly be called an 'ansible'. For that matter, the abbreviation FTL appears to have been invented by Fritz Leiber in The Enchanted Forest.

    Also from Star Trek, the word 'hypospray' for a needle-less medication injector is coming into use as real life versions are developed.

    The word 'airlock' was coined by E.E. Doc Smith in Skylark of Space

    I think one of the cool things science fiction does is invent words to use later.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer P View Post
    I think one of the cool things science fiction does is invent words to use later.
    exactly!!.. if we ever create any of these inventions in the future, they all already have names!

    I was just thinking... i know there are "tractor beams" in real life now.. did that term orginally come from star wars??
    Last edited by krisbslick; November 14th, 2012 at 02:06 PM.

  7. #7
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    I was just thinking... i know there are "tractor beams" in real life now.. did that term orginally come from star wars??
    Well before that... the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tractor_beam mentions Doc EE Smith mentioning 'attractor beams' back in 1929.... though Star Trek (original) is probably the place most people remember the term from first.
    Mark

  8. #8
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    I was just thinking... i know there are "tractor beams" in real life now.. did that term orginally come from star wars??
    Well before that... the Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tractor_beam mentions Doc EE Smith mentioning 'attractor beams' back in 1929.... though Star Trek (original) is probably the place most people remember the term from first.
    Mark

  9. #9
    Registered User JimF's Avatar
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    I don't know if this counts, but I use when I use the ATM I say I am beaming out some cash.

  10. #10
    I like SF. SF is cool. Steven L Jordan's Avatar
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    Arthur C. Clarke's invention of the geostationary orbit communications satellite deserves honorable mention here. Science fiction movies gave us the 3-2-1 countdown (I believe it was Lang's Woman In The Moon). And pocket computers, of course. We are now delving into nanotechnology. And we can send tiny machines into the human body to observe and manipulate our insides.

  11. #11
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    10 Words You Might Think Came from Science (But Are Really From Science Fiction

)

    http://io9.com/5850293/10-words-you-...cience-fiction

    psik

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by psikeyhackr View Post
    10 Words You Might Think Came from Science (But Are Really From Science Fiction

)

    http://io9.com/5850293/10-words-you-...cience-fiction

    psik
    exactly what i was looking for!

  13. #13
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    If you have not done so, check the Oxford English Dictionary science fiction page. http://www.jessesword.com/sf/ It should keep you busy for a good bit.

  14. #14
    It never entered my mind algernoninc's Avatar
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    io9 credits Asimov with the word robot, but I remember from my childhood reads the first to coin the term was Karel Capek in the play R.U.R. . Asimov himself gives credit to the Chech author in a wikipedia quote, and the origins of the word are slavonic from the noun "rob" meaning slave, forced labourer and the verb "roboti" - to apply oneself industriously to a job. The terms have an identical interpretation in Romanian language.

  15. #15
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by algernoninc View Post
    the first to coin the term was Karel Capek in the play R.U.R. . Asimov himself gives credit to the Chech author in a wikipedia quote, and the origins of the word are slavonic from the noun "rob" meaning slave, forced labourer and the verb "roboti"
    I found a web page that said Karel admitted that he got the word from his brother. His brother was a painter or something and Karel kept bugging him about a title for the play and his brother just threw the word out and Karel used it. LOL

    The play was popular in the 20s but I never heard of it until long after I had read Asimov. So by today's standards Asimov probably made the word more famous.

    But that is one of the curious things about this computerized society. Information that would have been buried under tons of newly printed paper is now available and it is more a matter of what people communicate relatively immediately. What info do we keep on the electronic surface.

    psik
    Last edited by psikeyhackr; November 20th, 2012 at 09:54 AM.

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