Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cell Phone

I was writing a paragraph today and something that I’d written struck me as being strange, bordering on the bizarre.
Like many of you, I’m an avid reader of science fiction, having started when I was just twelve years old. That was fifty-six years ago.
I was always amazed at the technology the authors dreamed up, remembering descriptions of what today could only be interpreted as modern e-readers and personal communicators and frequently wondered when these things would come to pass. Those weren’t the only wonders science fiction authors wrote about, but since FTL space ships don’t seem to be on the drawing boards (speaking of that phrase, I suppose I should change it to read “CAD programs”) I suppose the afore mentioned technology will suffice to illustrate my point.
I can’t help but feel like Captain Kirk, communicating with the Enterprise, every time I flip open my cell phone, and that little marvel is the reason for this blog post.
A new character in “Shadow Twins”, a beautiful, saucy, Italian woman named, Dani, makes an innocent move in the novel. The sentence reads: “Dani removed a cell from her pocket and slid it across the table.”
That’s weird. If I’d written that ten years ago it would have been interpreted as the woman actually plucked a cell from her body and slid it on the table, as unlikely as that might seem.
Actually to avoid misinterpretation, I probably should have written “cell phone” rather than “cell” but even with the short version I doubt anyone will wonder what I meant. The previous paragraph is about a cell phone and a modern reader will understand it. Besides, the epiphany it conjured in my mind led to this post.
We’re living in a science fiction world minus the space ships and space colonies and we don’t register it except for rare occasions.
I learned engineering on a slide rule. Any of you know what that is? If you don’t, read some of the old Robert Heinlein novels and pay attention to the phrase “slip-stick”. That’s a slide rule. It’s not a ruler; it’s a calculator, an analog calculator. No electronics, no batteries, and horribly inaccurate. We used to carry them in holsters, like a sword strapped to our waists. You were lucky if you could perform a calculation to two decimal places, but that device and others like it allowed us to travel to the moon and back. Heinlein understood it perfectly, but a modern reader would be confused.
Given the technology we possess today, how much further we can progress? The sky is within our reach folks, I think we should grab it.


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  2. Interesting post full of details, I bet you're an author of books. Are you? I think you're right on pointing out that our technology today has ceases our progress, limits our capacity. Our knowledge are so shallow. And new generations often mislook commonsense.