Top Sci-Fi Wet Dreams About To Come Alive

The future has arrived. From hover boards to tractor beams to invisibility cloaks, Inventions and happenings that were once only dreamt up in the pages of fantasy novels and far-flung corners of the imagination are moving into the realm of reality.

Both in books and movies, Science fiction certainly has a good track record for predicting, or laying the groundwork for future inventions. And so, we take a look at 5 reaaally cool Science-Fiction things that are a reality today.

  1. MIND CONTROL OF INANIMATE OBJECTS

Psychokinesis or telekinesis is an alleged psychic ability that allows a person to influence a physical system without physical interaction.

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And seems pretty amazing too, be it Harry Potter’s magic wand, or an episode from original Star Trek series “Spock’s Brain” wherein a beautiful Eymorg (female inhabitants in the series) extracts the brain from Mr. Spock’s body and uses it to control things like air circulation in the underground complex where her people lived.

Now, as cool as it sounds, levitating objects and bodies using just our mind seems far-fetched and mere Science Fiction. Or is it though?

Wingardium leviosa my friend! Because, mind-controlling a TV or a phone? Meh! We are talking about something bigger here (quite literally).

Introducing Brainflight

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Funded by the European Union, researchers at project “Brainflight” have been working towards their goal of controlling an airplane using only signals from a human brain with the aim of making flying easier and cheaper from a training standpoint. And initial results have been amazing accurate, with 7 people with various levels of experience having successfully completed in-flight simulator tests, and land smoothly under conditions of poor visibility.

#WhackyUse Controlling the TV, AC, lights, and what not without even lifting a finger!

  1. CLOAKING

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A cloaking device can be anything – a box, or a jacket that if spread around completely covering an object, renders it invisible.

In fiction, cloaking devices have been seen in many forms, from Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak to the cloaking ability of the Nanosuit in Crysis game series, or the familiar Anil Kapoor in the movie Mr. India.

Ok. But how does it exactly work?

To explain in simple non-scientific terms, when light after reflecting from an object (a wall, a ball, anything) enters our eyes, we are able to see it. A Cloaking device simply refracts (changes the direction of) light in a way that it does not enters our eyes, and hence making an object invisible.

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Now, we are not able to hide a spaceship yet, but real cloaking technologies are being developed for light, sound, touch and heat. One of the biggest hurdles at present is the cost and scalability, however scientists are making progress and are making rapid progress using a technique called ‘Nanotransfer printing’.

One type of cloak that IS a reality today is a device created by engineers at the National University of Singapore that provides the illusion of camouflage and simultaneously renders someone invisible by blocking their thermal signature (blocking the detection of heat in the body).

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In addition to being something incredibly amazing, this method used for cloaking soldiers due to its cost-effective and easily scalable nature and hence, is ready to go for military applications.

Empty wallet? No problem! Sneak into any movie theatre passing right in front of the security personnel.

  1. WEATHER MODIFICATION

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In many sci-fi shows, you must have seen characters mentioning techniques that could stop tornadoes or modify weather in other ways (for example – the female character Storm in X-Men series). Now these phenomena might have started as creations from a writer’s imagination, but are not too far from reality today.

Researchers from the University of Arizona and University of Central Florida are working on enhancing a way to shoot high-energy laser beam into clouds to produce ‘rain or lightning on demand’.

But how exactly can we ‘make’ rain happen?

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The fundamental principle is to somehow accumulate the tiny droplets into larger ones. A relatively well-known process called “Cloud-seeding” is practiced which involves shooting substances like salts and dry ice into clouds, that help formation of larger raindrops and hence triggering a downpour.

“Rain Mitigation” techniques have been practiced since 2006, with the first major use being the rain enforcement by China for the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics in 2008.

In addition to solving cultural issues, these methods have very important practical applications, for example in drought prone areas, or places where raining cats-and-dogs can cause major anomalies.

  1. DEFORMABLE (OR “SQUISHY”) ROBOTS

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If you have watched the movie Terminator 2, then you may remember a ‘T-1000’ robot that was able to squeeze through small openings by temporarily changing in a fluid form and could repair itself that way too.

Mere Science Fiction? Think again.

The DARPA or Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wanted deformable ‘octopus-like’ robots, which could squeeze through tight spaces and enlarge afterward into solids.

Scientists at the MIT achieved a somewhat similar feat using a low-cost, polyurethane foam which could easily squeeze to an extremely small size and expand to its normal state afterward. By coating the material with wax (also cheaply available) and by applying medium heat, the hardening and softening processes could be easily controlled by varying the current source.

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Important real-life Applications

The fluid-to-solid properties of these robots can be of variable practical uses, for instance, in a search-and-rescue operation the robot could squeeze in through rubble to find survivors, or during a surgical operation, the squishy robot would move to a certain point in the patient’s body without damaging the organs or blood vessels.

  1. BIOMETRIC PAYMENTS

It’s quite common in science fiction movies (The Matrix, Men in Black, and many more) and TV series to use biometric (literal meaning : technologies that analyze or measure human body characteristics) methods such as retina scan to access information.

An engineering student by the name of Fredrik Leifland at a University in Sweden, has taken this verification method using biometrics to the next level for payments across secure bank accounts.

Better than Apple-Pay or NFC

In addition to being easy and quick, this method is much more secure than many digital payments methods used today, as stated by Leifland in a University article – Every individual’s vein pattern (patterns of blood vessels from the surface of the skin) are unique, and so there isn’t a way of committing fraud.

As of April 2014, there were 1,600 active customers using this system as an alternative to cash or credit cards across 15 restraunt and stores in Sweden.

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So what’s next? Storing memories from brain to our laptop hard drives? Or some special pills to get those 6-pack abs in a matter of minutes? Or maybe Time Travel? Who knows what the future has in store for us. What we do know is that the possibilities, are endless.

By – Raunaq Singh

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