Yesterday's fiction is today's fact!
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Yesterday's fiction is today's fact!

Sci-fi writers like Jules Verne and HG Wells actually predicted some of the inventions that are a part of our routine life today. These predictions include...

entertainment Updated: Sep 28, 2010 11:56 IST

Futuristic writers like Jules Verne and HG Wells are known for their science fiction. But it seems all these years later, the fiction of yesterday has become the fact of today.


compiled a list of 11 such predictions which are extracts from books written long ago and have turned out to be eerily accurate today.

1. The iPad: (Conceived in 1968)

2001: A Space Odyssey

by Arthur C. Clarke

"He would plug in his foolscap-size newspad into the ship's information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth…When he punched that (a two-digit reference), the postage-stamp-size rectangle would expand until it neatly filled the screen and he could read it with comfort."

iPad2. Tanks: (Conceived in 1903)

The Land Ironclads

by H.G. Wells

"The war correspondent came within bawling range. 'What the deuce was it? Shooting our men down!... Black,' said the artist, 'and like a fort. Not two hundred yards from the first trench.'

"In that flickering pallor it had the effect of a large and clumsy black insect, an insect the size of an iron-clad cruiser, crawling obliquely to the first line of trenches and firing shots out of portholes in its side."

3. The Submarine: (Conceived in1869)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

This is probably one of the most commonly quoted and best-known predictions.

"For some time past vessels had been met by "an enormous thing," a long object, spindle-shaped, occasionally phosphorescent, and infinitely larger and more rapid in its movements than a whale."

"The facts relating to this apparition (entered in various log-books) agreed in most respects as to the shape of the object or creature in question, the untiring rapidity of its movements, its surprising power of locomotion, and the peculiar life with which it seemed endowed."

4. The Atomic Bomb: (Conceived in 1914)
The World Set Free by H.G. Wells
"He set up atomic disintegration in a minute particle of bismuth; it exploded with great violence into a heavy gas of extreme radio-activity, which disintegrated in its turn in the course of seven days, and it was only after another year's work that he was able to show practically that the last result of this rapid release of energy was gold."

Well, it sure is ironical that the infamous 'atom bomb' also called so by HG Wells which was conceptualized roundabout the First World War, actually got implemented in the Second World War.

5. The cubicle: (Conceived in 1909)
The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster
"Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. It is lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance. There are no apertures for ventilation, yet the air is fresh. There are no musical instruments, and yet, at the moment that my meditation opens, this room is throbbing with melodious sounds. An armchair is in the centre, by its side a reading-desk…The chair, like the music, was worked by machinery and it rolled her to the other side of the room where the bell still rang importunately."

Strange that Mr Forster speaks so romantically of something that is associated with corporate mundaneness.

6. Earbud headphones: (Conceived in 1950)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
"And in her ears the little seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind."

7. Video Chat: (Conceived in 1911)
Ralph 124C 41+ by Hugo Gernsback
"Stepping to the Telephot on the side of the wall, he pressed a group of buttons and in a few minutes the faceplate of the Telephot became luminous, revealing the face of a clean-shaven man about thirty, a pleasant but serious face. As soon as he recognized the face of Ralph in his own Telephot, he smiled and said, "Hello, Ralph." "Hello, Edward."

8. Radar: (Conceived in 1911)
Ralph 124C 41+ by Hugo Gernsback
"A pulsating polarized ether wave, if directed on a metal object can be reflected in the same manner as a light ray is reflected from a bright surface… By manipulating the entire apparatus like a searchlight, waves would be sent over a large area. Sooner or later these waves would strike a space flyer. A small part of these waves would strike the metal body of the flyer, and these rays would be reflected back to the sending apparatus. Here they would fall on the Actinoscope, which records only the reflected waves, not direct ones."

"From the intensity and elapsed time of the reflected impulses, the distance between the earth and the flyer can then be accurately estimated."

9. The Escalator: (Conceived in 1940)
The Roads Must Roll by Robert Heinlin
"They glided down an electric staircase, and debouched on the walkway which bordered the north-bound five-mile-an-hour strip."

10. Virtual Reality Games: (Conceived in1956)
The City and the Stars by Arthur C. Clarke
"Of all the thousands of forms of recreation in the city, these were the most popular. When you entered a saga, you were not merely a passive observer…You were an active participant and possessed-or seemed to possess-free will. The events and scenes which were the raw material of your adventures might have been prepared beforehand by forgotten artists, but there was enough flexibility to allow for wide variation. You could go into these phantom worlds with your friends…"

11. Automatic Doors: (Conceived in 1899)
When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells
"And then came a strange thing; a long strip of this apparently solid wall rolled up with a snap, hung over the two retreating men and fell again, and immediately Graham was alone with the new comer and the purple-robed man with the flaxen beard."

Interestingly, it is the same names that keep coming in this list of 'foreseers' which include the likes of HG Wells, Arthur Clarke, Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback. Perhaps, if these men had become scientists instead of writers, these inventions would have been here a century ago. Who knows!

First Published: Sep 27, 2010 20:57 IST