That is an interesting question -- so many people say. Well, maybe that's right, but I would think that science has still got quite a ways to go. I admit that a good many things have become reality, and some that even science fiction didn't think of first! But there are several of stf's greatest "inventions" yet to be made reality.

Also, some of science-fiction's inventions and weapons, although "discovered" by science, are yet to be perfected and improved.

A third point is, what would some of the really important inventions under each of these three subject headings.

(1) Some of the science fiction yet to become reality are such things as atomic power. Yes, we have atomic power in a crude and limited way. As far as we've been informed, the power being obtained from the atom still is through the medium of steam! Heat generated by the atomic disintegration is used to create power by boiling water and getting steam! How about such things as the "atomotor" in Nelson Bond's "Castaways on Eros" for example? We've got a long wait coming before we can dump some sand into a small size atomic converter and get raw power to use as we need!

Let's see ... another one is broadcast power. To go a little further, broadcast atomic power. As far as I know there is nothing we have on that now, or any hopes of having it in the very near (or far for that matter) future!

Something else is the atomic shield. Science fiction's only defense against atomic bombs (or other power weapons). Naturally, it is only reasonable to assume that if this is being worked on, it would be kept under wraps as strictly as the original atomic bomb projects. And we really can't say that there is no possibility of this being worked on right now! Intriguing thought!

Then there are the spy-rays of science fiction. Pretty well developed above radar, these rays can search and bring back television-type images and even sound. Also, they can search and pry beneath the surface of planets and tell to a certain extent if an enemy or ores and metals are under there.

Another thing yet to be developed is a teleportation unit. The nearest other thing to that that we have now is facsimile reproduction. There are plans of making an attachment to your (theoretical!) television set so it can go "burrrrrrrrp click!" and your morning newspaper will pop out! It isn't here yet, though, AND it is a far cry from stepping through a screen in New York and coming out in Detroit! Or sending material that way. Think of the repercussions that would cause in the transportation world if developed! And what a change in your life it would make!

In the communications line, what about these televisors that are a cross between a long distance phone and a television set? It would ruin the phone companies (unless they converted after developing the thing themselves). And, after building in a teletype-like device to use in case the person isn't home when you call, the mails would sort of go into disuse.

As for a time machine, let's just leave that alone, shall we?

There are many other things such as three-dimensional movies and television sets (which will theoretically replace movies anyway) and doubtless countless other things, mostly minor gadgets, if you searched through the magazines for a while.

(2) Now let's turn to the improvement section. I've already mentioned above how our atomic power idea could be made much better so I'll not go into that although it is one of the most important subjects. Television is one thing now. If there is a way and they say there is a way to everything, we could use a longer-range television network. And I don't mean that idea of using high-flying stratosphere planes as relay stations either. Also, there are a number of minor but irritating bugs yet to be conquered but it is likely that they will succumb in time.

I don't know how FM would figure in this as I'm not sure if that was first heard of in stf or not. It could use a longer range for one thing though.

Then there is the rockets question to be looked into. Several ways we can go at this. One is that a feasible liquid fuel will have to be developed before they can use (after they perfect) long range (i.e., extraterrestrial) rockets. Or they could develop atomic power to the extent, and safely, to use in rockets and this is much more preferable. Naturally devices and techniques would have to keep up with these developments to keep the men manning those rockets alive and able to stand the velocities developed by these fuels and/or atomic power plants.

Then there is the little-mentioned robot. There have been a few curiosities that have worked after a fashion but we have nothing that can compare to "Narcissus" yet! Although I'd hardly want to have one exactly like that one! Then, how about humanoids? We have yet to even develop these.

There sure is a lot yet to come!

(3) Now let's look at the third category in this article. The effect on civilization that some (we'll just cover one now) invention would have if perfected.

Let's choose broadcast power (and leave robots, atomic runabouts, etc., alone) since it is an interesting topic. First, if it was developed and perfected, would they use it? Especially if it used atomic power which would have to be perfected too. I rather imagine that the existing electric, oil and coal companies would object strenuously! They would unless they got control of it and either substituted it for the existing (but disappearing) supplies of fuels when they ran out, or bury it somewhere for a l-o-n-g time. But say it did go through, what effect would it have on everyday life?

A lot you can bet! First your home would likely have a central receiver which could be drawn on by all of the household appliances, lighting and heating equipment. Then your helicopter runabout and/or car would have a receiver, too. This is just taking main examples without going into detail. You would probably pay your power bill something like you do today. There would probably be a meter on the receiver in your home, car and copter. Going further, these would probably even adjust and calculate your bill each week or month!

There would possibly be huge sending stations scattered over the country to take care of airline ships. Marine ships may go out of use except in isolated sections. Also, it might be wise to keep the location of the sending stations secret unless there would be no danger of aggression and need to conceal them in this future and supposedly war-free time. A city dependent upon its broadcasting power plants (as they all presumably will be) would certainly be out of luck if the plants were shut off or destroyed by a bomb or enemy agents if a war broke out. The city would be helpless and paralyzed.

Then, going back, what would become of all the people who used to run the oil and petroleum business, the coal miners, etc.? Some, but only a few, would go into this new business but since most of the machinery would be automatic and there would be need only for a few maintenance technicians for each station, something else would have to take the large overflow. What it would be is not easy to guess but you can be sure that something would develop in this future world made possible by new inventions. Something that would provide jobs enough for everyone. What, we can only conjecture, and I'll not go into that.

This broadcast power is but one possible thing. Combine the changes that would result on account of all the other inventions and possible developments and our future world is likely to be pretty complex to us!

So, we see that science has not yet come too close to catching up with science-fiction. We haven't got traveling sidewalks or the "roads" in "The Roads Must Roll" and so many other things.

Better think it over a little more the next time, you who will say "Science is sure catching up with science-fiction!"

Text versions and page scans Judy Bemis

Data entry by Judy Bemis

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