October 18, 2012

Sci-Fi Helps Eyes

redOrbit recently described a new technology for scanning individual eye movement for passwords and other identification purposes. As I read through this article, I felt like I was watching Blade Runner or Minority Report or some other great science fiction flick.

Science fiction, otherwise called sci-fi, has long been innovative and influential in the real world. I mean, Star Trek basically invented the iPad and cell phones. Am I right? The genre allows writers and readers to experience science and technology in new and inspiring ways. This has long caught my attention.

Sci-fi provides readers with the opportunity to connect with ideas that in other settings would seem too far-fetched, too surreal. Who doesn’t want a talking robot to help them cope with being on the moon? Or a cell phone chip embedded in our heads so that we can just think of who we want to call, and, bam, we have made contact? And if neither of those is appealing, what about an eye scan that works for all passwords? No more post-its and reminders necessary. Nope. Science comes to the rescue!

Furthermore, sci-fi has propelled real science and technology further through its creativity and inspiration. Think about it? In August, redOrbit reported about a woman’s bionic eye. Bionic eye!?! Only forty or so years ago, the possibility of a bionic woman was only available to us via the 1970s television series. Now, people have bionic eyes, hips, and knees, just to name a few.

Did sci-fi really lead to bionic joints and organs? Probably not, but the genre did not hurt the process. If anything, sci-fi propelled the science and technology further. I believe a brief list of some of the powerful sci-fi works would be a fitting tribute to the new eye technology and the bionic woman:

  1. Star Trek—Read the books, watch the television series (all of them), and check out the movies for some awesome technology.
  2. Blade Runner—This is just a classic with crazy-good science and tech.
  3. Ender’s Game—Need I say more?
  4. Stranger in a Strange Land—Heinlein is hard to beat in the sci-fi world.
  5. The Martian Chronicles—No good discussion of sci-fi would be complete without Bradbury.
  6. Star Wars—Um, duh!?!

Anyone interested in a good beginning to science fiction would find themselves well-informed and educated should they start with these six sci-fi classics. Who knows? Maybe the next best technology will come from just a weekend fest of sci-fi movies, books, stories, and shows. If nothing else, though, one will find herself inspired and invigorated about the possibilities of science and technology in our world.

Too often genres like sci-fi and fantasy (Don’t worry; I’ll save that topic for another day.) are overlooked because of the magic involved. The books, television shows, and movies seem too much to the realists in us all. Yet many have fallen in love with the stories and characters and ideas. Who’s to say that the scientists who are researching the individual eye movement scan for passwords didn’t find at least a modicum of inspiration in some of the sci-fi greats? It’s well worth the time to find out!

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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