Technology – from fiction to fact

The speed of technological change and innovation seems to be getting faster all the time. In the early 1960’s the first spacecraft were launched and television programmes began showing us live events from all around the world. In those pioneering days the picture quality wasn’t always brilliant, but we still marvelled at being able to see such things in real-time. There began the race to land a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth, and in 1969 that was achieved. Before that, however, science fiction programmes such as Star Trek showed humans travelling at speeds faster than light and encountering all manner of strange worlds. They were also using technologies that seemed, at the time, completely out of this world.

But things change. It wasn’t all that long ago that a keyboard was only found on a piano, a hard drive was a long trip on the road and a mouse pad was where a mouse lived! The early mobile phones flipped open in a very similar manner to the communicators as used by Star Trek, and whilst we cannot transport ourselves by disassembling and reassembling our component atoms, you may be sure that the concept is being researched. As each generation learns to use technology, new and innovative ideas are bearing fruit. In the film ‘Apollo 13’, Jim Lovell makes reference to ‘a computer that can fit into a single room and hold millions of pieces of information’. The modern iPhone has a vastly greater capability and capacity than the computer used on the Apollo 13 spacecraft and is dramatically smaller than its onboard computer.

photo of earth viewed from the moon

Earth viewed from the Sea of Tranquility

All this has occurred in what seems a relatively short space of time and we now almost take for granted that we can watch live pictures of events happening almost anywhere around the world. Also, whilst technology enables us to predict such things as weather events, we seem unable to cope with the after-effects, such as the flooding that is being experienced at present. Whilst some immediately claim that defensive measures should have been put in place, it is likely that those same people would have complained bitterly about the waste of tax-payers money had such measures been taken but the heavy rain not fallen in the quantities it has over such a short time.

Technology in itself will continue to change and hopefully improve our lives, and some ideas dreamed up by science-fiction writers will, I am certain, also change from fiction into fact. My hope is that such changes will be directed towards the preservation of all life on earth, so that future generations can and will enjoy the beauty and wonder that astronauts saw when they first saw this planet from space.

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