Science: it’s like rock and roll with whiter coats. Buckaroo Banzai, Walter Bishop, Alan Grant, Ian Malcolm, Ellie Satler, Ellie Arroway and so many others have pushed the fictional boundaries of fictional science back for us, often whilst running and screaming. That’s dedication. But not quite as much dedication as hurling yourself out of what was essentially a pressure bottle, under a balloon, to plummet over 100,000 feet towards the ground. Felix Baumgartner’s jump was a voyage to planet Badass, and he broke the sound barrier, smashing into my imagination, along the way. So! This week’s question is:
What scientific breakthrough, and or demented piece of science daredevilry, would you like to see inside the next five years?
Atomic batteries to power! Turbines to speed! Fetch the Cortexiphan! Death! Delicious, strawberry flavoured DEATH!
Matt Risley When it comes to the Dr Pepper School of Philosophy (“What's the worst that can happen?”), my suggestion isn't going to win any awards for being sensible.
But really, the only thing I want – and something I could actually see happening – is the arrival of a real life lightsaber.
You can already buy variants on the theme (Google “ Spyder III Pro Arctic ” for a wallet-crippling and potentially limb-crippling surprise), but it's still not possible to buy something as groovy looking, easy to use, or as powerful as Star Wars' infamous lightbeams of death. Any time I think about the Olympics of the future, that's the only event that springs to mind.
Laura McConnell Some years ago, I attended a Star Trek panel and this question was asked. And one of the actors gave an answer that I hadn't thought of, despite the fact that it's blazingly obvious once you hear it. Rather than the typical holodeck or transporter response, which then starts the age-old fan debate between which of those two is better/more important and why, this actor (and I can't for the life of me remember who it was), immediately piped up and said, "the medical technology." I agree. If we could fix so many of our modern-day ills, many people could live far better lives. Now, granted, with much longer life spans comes the need to curb the population a bit or spread out to other planets to make room for us all, but let's just assume we can fix that later, okay? I say cure cancer first, ask practical questions later.
Oh, and in regards to that holodeck versus transporter debate? The holodeck wins hands down. Why? Because it's actually possible. Soon.
John Cooper Teleportation. It's incredibly practical and as someone who does a lot of travelling it would make life a lot easier. If it was invented I'm sure it would become very quickly regulated with the likes of Virgin, Delta and other airlines offering it up as a premier and pricey service. It'd be just like airports with long queues of people passing through passport control, all mundane and normal, with a small twinge of excitement as you get to the front, pass through a metal detector, walk behind a curtain and a uniformed chap politely asks you to, “undress and step into the designated transportation cubicle please sir?”.
There'd be a cleaner on hand to give the inside of the cubicle a quick wipe between customers, and checking for flies. Then at the other end there's a sick bag for you to dry heave into as you deal with the trauma of bodily reconstitution. All very British. Inevitable delays and confusion, being zapped to the wrong country, perhaps even the odd 24-hour strike where you arrive a day late and write an angry letter to the authorities about how the plane would have been quicker.
I'm reminded of a section of the game Half-Life 2 , where the main protagonist passes through a harbour full of rusted disused ships as that mode of transport becomes obsolete. As the technology advances and miniaturises we'll eventually have real “portal guns” like the replicas from the game you can buy on eBay for around £80. I imagine Apple will attempt some aggressive patent on the technology, and there'll be an initial spate of accidental deaths as hardcore Apple consumers playtest and quickly discover it's not the kind of gun you can safely fire into the air. Then it's only a matter of time before their practical use is perverted, banks have to install anti-portal protection and perverts are arrested for the new crime of “assault at the molecular level”. Urgh.
Actually I've changed my mind. I don't want teleportation. What scientific breakthrough do I want? Let's keep it really simple, nothing futuristic. How about just to have every piece of technology I use – just for one day – work the way it's supposed to, without hiccup or incident. Is that to much to ask?
Steven Ellis The one piece of future tech that I'd really want won't be happening in the next five years, it'll probably never be a reality. I'm talking about a fully functioning teleporter just like in Star Trek . Teleport technology would make life so much easier. You could get out of bed minutes before you needed to be anywhere, there’d be no more rush hour traffic and no more long tiring journeys anywhere. Just step into a box in the hall and step out of another box anywhere in the world seconds later. With travel time reduced to virtually zero we'd all have so much more free time and holidays and trips would become as simple as walking from one room into another. What's not to love about that? Except for the possible risks if a fly happens to jump in your teleport pod, and that could be avoided with a judicious use of Raid before each trip, I don't see a down side to teleport tech.
Seeing as the technology will probably never be a reality then my second pick would be a hover board. It's only three years until 2015. That was when Back To The Future told us they'd be along and Marty McFly would never lie to us... I just hope my knees hold up until then...
Alasdair Stuart Cheap, reliable space travel, because I still want off this rock. I don’t want to go far; the Moon would be lovely but Low Earth Orbit would more than do. I just want to feel weightless, see the sun rise from above the atmosphere, and, most of all, step outside. I know, I know, space is really, really big, etc, etc, but I just want a few minutes alone with the universe. Just me in a pressurised suit, with the planet at back and the universe surrounding me. I’d only need a few minutes, but that would be enough for me. Above the atmosphere, alone with everything and everyone. I’m taking a break from religion at the moment but that? Coming face to face with the universe? That’s a spiritual experience right there.
Unless of course, I realised all I was looking at was a huge black monolith reflecting the stars around it…
And on that slightly terrifying, folks, we’ll take our leave before people turn into giant space babies and suddenly there’s Roy Scheider and it just gets weird. Join us next week when we’re going to discuss the conquering of the Empire by the one thing they could never defeat; Disney.
What do you want to see from Star Wars Episode VII? Do you think it, and the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney is a good thing?
Is it a small world after all in a galaxy far, far away? Will Fantasia 2020 have a sequence set on Coruscant? Join us next week to find out what we think.
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