When Science FICTION Becomes Science FACT!

In 1988, Isaac Asimov predicted that we would
all own computers connected to massive libraries and be able to access digital teachers and
reference materials on demand, allowing us to learn at our own pace, wherever we want,
about whatever we choose. So . . . basically this? [MUSIC] You know what’s frustrating about tomorrow?
. . . that it’s not today. That makes it very hard to predict. But that doesn’t stop us from trying. And
lots of our predictions about the science of TOMORROW come in the form of science FICTION. Science SCIENCE is, for the most part, a historical
study, built on observations of things that have already happened. But science FICTION
has a decidedly tomorrow-y bent to it. Not all predictions are CORRECT, I mean you’d
have to be a pretty big bojo to think that we’re actually going to have hoverboards by
October 21, 2015, but throughout the history of science fiction, people have gotten a lot
of things amazingly RIGHT. Like in 1865, Jules Verne predicted that the
US would send three men to the moon in a spaceship named Columbiad launched on a rocket weighing
20,000 pounds at a cost of 12.1 billion dollars. 104 years later, the U.S. sent three men to
the moon in a spaceship named Columbia on a rocket weighing 26,000 pounds at a cost
of 14.4 billion dollars. NOT BAD. Mark Twain, in his 1898 story “From the ‘London
Times’ of 1904” predicted a worldwide network of interconnected telephone devices that would
let people share information and he even predicted we would just waste time looking at what everyone
else was doing. He wasn’t the only one to predict the internet.
Douglas Adams wrote about a handheld device that was the standard repository for all knowledge
and wisdom in the galaxy, but that was in 1979, and the internet was already being built,
so I don’t know if it counts. But hey, you can read books on it! Arthur C. Clarke is also on the list of people
who predicted internet-type computer things [ARTHUR C CLARKE TALKING] but
his BOOKS got so many things right that you’d
think he had access to some superior form of artificial intelligence. “Siri can you
open the pod bay doors please?” Today artificial intelligence has advanced
enough to win at Jeopardy, but so far no one has died from it . . . I think. Before Arthur C. Clarke wrote stories, he
worked on radar for the Royal Air Force. In 1945, he wrote an article describing “extra-terrestrial
relays”, which essentially predicted AND laid out a plan for our entire modern system of
geostationary communications satellites. To this day, the particular altitude of space
that those satellites live is known as the “Clarke Orbit” In the 1911 story “Ralph 124C 41+”, Hugo Gernsback,
the namesake of science fiction’s annual “Hugo awards”, predicted that an emitted radio wave
should reflect off distant objects and make them detectable like visible light, which
we call radar, something that wasn’t invented until almost 25 years later. In 1961’s “Stranger
In A Strange Land” Robert Heinlein predicted screensavers, although I’m not sure he knew
we’d use flying toasters. In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury predicted flatscreen television,
as well as “seashells” and “thimble radios” worn in the ears which I think we’ve all HEARD
of. 50 years ago, during the 1964 world’s fair,
Isaac Asimov predicted that in 2014 we would have some robots, but they wouldn’t be very
good yet, that nuclear and solar power would replace fossil fuels, we’d have self-driving
cars, we’d have unmanned missions to Mars, and everyone would wear killer sideburns and
bolo ties Philip K. Dick is a decidedly more pessimistic
predictor of the future, but he was . . . RIGHT. Maybe it’s not all sunshine and roses out
there. Minority Report’s “Precogs” have been related by some to modern efforts to use neuroscience
in the courtroom. Total Recall-level memory implantation is nowhere close to being real,
but experiments in mice suggest that brain-to-brain neural linkage is not complete fiction. Do
Androids Dream of Electric Sheep predicts a world full of bio-inspired engineering and
human-like artificial intelligence, while A Scanner Darkly predicted a level of high-tech
government surveillance that I think we all WISH was fiction, but I love the NSA, the
NSA is our friend. But nobody, NOBODY, holds a Nostradmus-y candle
to HG Wells. He, too predicted the iPad, oh AND automatic sliding doors, in 1899’s When
The Sleeper Wakes. He predicted the atomic bomb, in scary detail,
including all of the radioactive fallout horror that it would bring, in 1914’s “The World
Set Free”, even down to some of the nuclear PHYSICS involved. He even called it an “atomic
bomb” which was not even a term that existed before that. In The Time Machine he predicted, well, the
time machine (although he didn’t explain how it works, so maybe we shouldn’t count that
one). The Shape of Things to Come predicted airborne warfare. Men Like Gods saw wireless
communications. War of the Worlds (SPOILERS) reminded us that faced with man or even alien
technology, bacteria will ALWAYS win. The Invisible Man used light refracting metamaterials
for invisibility nearly a century BEFORE we even knew what metamaterials were. In The Island of Doctor Moreau he not only
predicted genetic engineering, but asked a question that we still haven’t answered: How
does man safely manipulate nature when he is PART of nature? HG Wells was so good, and so often correct,
about predicting the future, that he is called “the man who invented tomorrow”. Or today.
Of course, not all sci-fi is good at predicting the future, and sci-fi gets lots of stuff
wrong, but you have to admit that some of these predictions are so spot on that you’d
almost expect one of the authors to be from Gallifrey. One right prediction in any one body of work
would be lucky, but this many right answers can’t be luck. Clearly something sets these
people apart. Many of the greatest sci-fi writers also had
serious scientific training. Isaac Asimov had a PhD in biochemistry. Arthur C. Clarke
degree in math and physics. HG Wells had a degree in biology. Of course it also helps
to hang out with people like Carl Sagan. At its core, good science fiction must rest
on good SCIENCE. It seems obvious, but this, I think, is why the best sci-fi authors are
also the most frequently right when it comes to predicting the future. How far can we see into the future? It depends
on what we’re looking for. Isaac Asimov said that when we look at stars, or galaxies, or
DNA we are looking at simple things, things that follow nice neat rules and equations.
But when we look at human history, it’s chaotic, it’s unpredictable, our vision is limited.
Science transforms the complex into the simple, it’s how we explain the chaos. Science is
how we see farther, and science fiction is where we write down what we see. I would like to know what YOU think down in
the comments. Why makes some science fiction SO GOOD at predicting the future. And I PREDICT
that I missed a TON of awesome science fiction that has become reality, so PLEASE leave a
comment and tell me what I missed. Stay curious.

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100 Responses

  1. Anant kumar says:

    I really enjoy these videos,science and fun.

  2. Siberian Orange says:

    I personally believe that some of science fiction becoming science fact is due to self-fulfilling prophecy. We read, fall in love with it, want it, then make it. As for the rest… Watching trends and listening to what people want to make better, then applying scientific reason makes some things easy to predict… I've done it with businesses many times.

  3. JAMES CLEVEN says:

    That guy looks like you

  4. James George says:

    It could be that a lot of our technology was inspired by science fiction. The flip phone, for example, was inspired by the communicator from Star Trek.

  5. Beth Syler says:

    I agree with the point that you maid, I also think those science fiction writers often inspire scientist to endeavor to make their favourite childhood science fiction technology come true – a sort of self fulfilling prophecy.

  6. GreenGestalt says:

    H.G. Wells predicted Netflix in "the Sleeper Wakes"

  7. Necron Lord says:

    I am still waiting for byonics

  8. Dianelle D says:

    THANKS! When I don't like a movie because its bases are not credible, my dad says, "It's just science fiction". But no! A good sci-fi story must have its support on good science, or everything works or with magic, or Deus ex machina.

  9. Ragingdonut says:

    Is it just me, or does Asimov look like Jermaine Clement?

  10. Héctor Cossio says:

    What about Verne man?

  11. the madman lowercase says:

    Lol, remember before internets? Me too, all we had were leftover novels. Remember typewriters? If you wanted to create you had to use those or other forms of what they call physical media? Me too, but I have adapted. YouTube channel, podcasting…this future is no more difficult than the last…

  12. lambent ort says:

    J.G. Ballard wrote psychological sci-fi which pitted human characters against the increasingly dehumanizing/transhumanizing effects of our post-industrial lifestyles, and how bizarrely this would transform human behavior and culture.

  13. i asimov says:

    Nobody mentioned Robert Heinlein who precogged drafting software, autonomous vacuum cleaners, pocket calculators, and lots of other things, many of which haven't been invented YET but may be soon.

  14. Noor Azraq says:

    5:01But I love the NSA,the NSA is my friend

  15. badr wfm25 says:

    the modern astronomy is based on theories and thoughts of certain scientists…those thoughts and theories could be wrong and just a logical imagination,…and as nikola tesla said "Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality."

  16. Pol Barreiro Font says:

    I predict we will have night vision so we won't need light bulbs and we will be able to see the night sky from cities. Which is a very nice thought I think. Also connected minds with machines and to each other, but that's obvious.

  17. stephen madl says:

    Stranger in a strange land changed the way I look at knowing and understanding. It and every other book in this episode are on my list of favorites in science fiction and fantasy.

  18. v.v.v.v jojo says:

    How about predicting a condom

  19. hidden says:

    You missed black holes.

  20. antoncg rags says:

    H G Wells predicted Nuclear submarines. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

  21. The Char Lie Lhama says:

    What makes some Science Fiction so good at predicting the Future?
    You're in luck, I got the recipe right here.
    1). One fully functional Brain encased in a fully powered up body in a relaxed state.
    2). The mind of this brain will need to be in an open and inspired state. (could be achieved with mind altering stimuli, e.g. music)
    3). The Memory of the Mind needs extensive data, usually on something specific, and its relationship towards the whole of the universe (a lot of universal observation seems necessary).
    4). In order for the prediction to be successful, the person may need to have a wide array of social experience and skills, that will allow him to identify with his audience, so that he can inspire them.
    5). A lot of time.
    6). Fearlessness of mental exploration with a healthy dose of skepticism to help point out the genius in the madness.
    7). A sympathetic and helpful environment.
    8). A desire to move beyond current knowledge.
    9). A lot of skill in Maths, Logic and Philosophy.
    10). An extensive knowledge of time and human nature.

    Ingredients and results may vary.
    I've yet to try out this recipe, but I'm still lacking a lot of the ingredients.
    This list was provided by the O'God of Argument.
    I can't figure him out, but my consciousness is only an echo of identities.
    Once I've figured out the mystery of how my Identity works, I'll be sure to write a book about it, that'll inspire people into new directions of science of consciousness.
    But first I have to study the mystery and reality of 42.

  22. Roedy Green says:

    My dad said that the key to being a great inventor was to notice what people most needed. Long before the Internet existed, we really needed it.

  23. Afiya Nabil says:


  24. Steve Rome says:

    Still waiting for force powers and tauntauns to become real…

  25. BertyFromDK says:

    Orwell's Big Brother = NSA , telescreens = laptop PCs with built-in cameras and microphones.

    P.S. the title "Ralph 124C41" actually means "Ralph, one to foresee for one"

  26. Jonas Nilsson says:

    science nerds read science fiction and want to create what they read. Thats why NASA has concept artist in their staff, to inspire something to strive for. easy as pie

  27. nn_ma 20 says:

    U missed Jules Verne and submarines

  28. OnyxCobra95 says:

    I love how space x is trying to make a new rocket ship that works exactly like those old 50s sci fi rockets that launch straight up but then lands in reverse, they are basically trying to create a reusable rocket ship that doesn’t have to break apart in space. I think it’s neat because I used to see those old sci fi rockets and laugh because I thought it was a ridiculous idea. I hope they are successful with em in the future.

  29. usuallydead says:

    Asimov also thought we'd be using nuclear kitchen appliances.

  30. Moira L'Abbate says:

    The video is great 🙂 but the subtitles are out of synchrony… for non English natives as me, this is terrible 🙁

  31. INK WISAT says:

    You are so sad

  32. Cassie L says:

    When I look at your comments, I look at the past

  33. Eldritch Smoothie Blast says:

    I think that innovations are based off futuristic ideas of the past.

  34. Erin Biskup says:

    'Pygmalion's Spectacles' by Stanley G. Weinbaum, published in 1935, talks about Virtual Reality in the form of bulky, gas mask-like goggles with a special solution in the lenses that results in trick photography and the feeling that the user is somewhere they aren't.

  35. Olek Gaming says:

    They prodicted ready player one

  36. Amy Lemon says:

    Those people are from the future and went back in time to impress everyone with their predictions

  37. Ape X says:

    No matter how advanced we get, people will still worry about race and immigration!

  38. Flavio Catarino says:

    I think one of the best authors of sci-fi and often taken for granted is E. C. Tubb, with his Dumarest Saga. It is based on a more realistical vision of how mankind would spread to other planets and how chaotic and medieval the colonization of some worlds would become, with many discrepancies such as worlds full of wealth and some full of hazards or archaic societies packed with slavery and turmoil.
    TO date it is my favorite series of sci fi books and a great experiment into human mind and soeciety as a whole. And this is what most sci fi writers hope to achieve when they dream of the future, of how technology will impact our lives.

  39. CallMetheMusicMan says:

    Isaac Asimov is the reason I study science

  40. Dorothy You left out Star Trek. says:

    In the future war will be fought on the internet, our drones vs their drones and contact with extraterrestrial life will be the end of them or us.

  41. Steve J says:

    HG Wells was the smartest one to write about the "Time Machine". Maybe? All these men used that device to go back in time and write about it?

  42. Noamias says:

    I’m sad you missed the book where the main characters ride in a submarine even though it wasn’t invented, forgot the name of it. But I think it’s something like “A trip around the world under the oceans” or something

  43. William Johnson says:

    This –>> Psychohistory

  44. V.K.S Productions says:

    The Shape of Things to Come didn't predict aeronautical warfare as it was a reality by the time the book was written, in 1933. But it did predict that another world war would begin and that in it: Germany would fight Poland and America would fight Japan.

    Also some of the things listed, are more coincidences than predictions.

  45. Craig Harrington says:

    People keep confusing the line of causality when things happen. It's almost like people who invented things read books that give them ideas to work towards. The things we have depend on how easy it is to make something and how badly people have tried to make them happen.

  46. Ellie Webb says:

    Why sci-fi writers might be so good at predicting the future:
    A) They are extremely intelligent
    B) They had already invented modern technology themselves but decided to write about it instead of letting people use it
    C) This one isn't very scientific, but maybe they can see the future?

  47. Pedro Chiriboga says:

    how could you forget about Jules Verne?

  48. IronBubba Gaming says:

    You missed “Back to the Future.” Even that got some things right.

  49. It's FACT of Science. says:

    Nice video #It'sFACTofScience

  50. Katie Cat says:

    Isaac Asimov is amazing!

  51. Belle Espe says:

    Literally so much of Star Trek that was made up became reality! It inspired inventions like the flip phone. You should do a whole video on the aspects of Star Trek that became real.

  52. Cas Rijnierse says:

    Almost anything will happen eventually

  53. luciferangelica says:

    asimov sure had them chops (mutton)

  54. luciferangelica says:

    asimov and clarke, were not only scifi writers but, like sagan, great popularizers of science, and i have enjoyed their nonfiction as much as their fiction since i was a young child. in fact, i first learned about science from a series of illustrated nonfiction children's book written by asimov. this was my first exposure to any of his works. when i was checking one out for the 100th time the librarian told me i couldn't, that it was for the older kids, and i wouldn't understand it, but i took it out anyway the next chance i got

  55. mark wright says:

    Maybe they also inspired engineers and scientists to make these things come true?

  56. blueckaym says:

    Asimov's "Reason" is another fiction that will come true, and I believe I might be alive to see it (the part where space stations gather energy and direct it towards Earth in the form of concentrated beam).
    But it's a very good question that Joe asked – what's special about these guys to get so many things right (well besides good sci background).
    And I believe it's the ability to search and identify phenomenons that are far extrapolations based on what was currently known or beginning to be revealed in their time.
    So they were kinda the first theoretical scientists that were too cool for the Math and experiments to prove them right (or wrong) 🙂
    Btw there are more cool guys (many of which also well established scientists) that have dabbled in sci-fi. And some of their ideas are still applied (even if as last resort) when weird things are observed in space – I mean things like Dyson spheres/swarms, Boltzmann brains etc…
    I wonder which predictions will come true! 🙂

  57. megan allen says:

    Literally everyone at this point has said something along the lines of 'they didn't predict it,they inspired it!!!'

  58. no name says:

    If it wasn't for Star Trek, how long do you think it would've taken someone to invent the cellphone?

  59. Maruthu MJ says:

    captions gave me cancer

  60. Yokai says:

    Space force or the UNSC from Halo is going to become a thing.

  61. Thrawn says:

    No Science Fiction writer has, or will ever, predict anything. Simply, they write stories where X happens, and it is simply coincidence when X actually happens.

  62. Thrawn says:

    Okay, maybe Clarke.

  63. LadyDoomsinger says:

    The key to predicting the future, is to make so many predictions, that statistically, at least a few of them will hit the mark – also be vague about the when and how. Like Nostradamus, that guy tossed out predictions like used toilet paper.

    And Jules Verne did predict the moon landing, true enough, but he also wrote Journey to the Center of the Earth, which has so far not even come close to reality. And it's been awhile since I read From the Earth to the Moon, but I'm pretty sure that other than the fact than man landed on the Moon, the details were a bit… wrong.

  64. Eleeth Tahgra says:

    Remember when Piccard use Data the Android for telephone? Well, now we are using Android for telephone. Pardon my grammar.

    4:58 Yeah….WASNT fiction….

  65. Emily Smith says:

    Michael Crichton's "Next". Maybe not all of it, and maybe not right this second, but that man knew what was coming. (PhD in Molecular Biology probably helped).

  66. President Banana says:


  67. J. Reilly Kerrigan , master of the arts says:

    sheer luck most pf the time

  68. ɮօʊռċɛ օʄʄ says:

    I don't believe in many manmade concept bogus
    But in time travel I believe

  69. Five minute Fishing says:

    Star Trek had sliding doors and flip phones

  70. Jinne More says:

    michael Crichton may be a candidate someday. Of course gene Roddenberry would surely qualify.

  71. SavingThemLost. says:

    I think science fiction is written by people who know science. Science itself is not very creative, it's made up of rules and theories that can be tested and shown to be consistently true, but I believe that the scientific community is made up of very creative people, and that's where science fiction comes from. People who know science as it is at that time, and using what they know, they imagine what could be possible.

  72. Jason Baldauf says:

    Robots in US and europe were not very good. Just search for ASIMO robot on YouTube. It’s real I saw it first hand in Tokyo in 2014. I mean ASIMO is like Star Wars caliber droids that are real today.

  73. Sophie Nugre says:

    I think a lot can also be learnt from looking how things evolved until today. For example we know a lot more about diseases and crude diagnostic tools and surgery practices have given way to somewhat more sophisticated ways (said they awaiting their blood being drawn) I think it's not magic to predict we will make further advancements, maybe genetics will come into play much more when we diagnose (as in they swap a few cells, do a quick pcr and you have your results before you leave the doctors office).

    Similarly I don't think it's that far off that the cited men saw how communication had already changed and predicted surveillance and increased connectivity. As somebody already said, that's us looking back and elevating the predictions that came true.

  74. Nasimul Nadim says:

    Star Trek- iPads, flash drives, warp drive, replicators (3d printers)… What else?

  75. Tribal Massive says:

    I think Sci-Fi doesn't predict the future it creates it. It plants the seeds that grow in the minds of the people who will action on the vision.

  76. Gabriela Martinez says:

    Anyone thought of the Simeon’s and all they predicted correctly when they saw the title…

    No, just me… oh, ok then

  77. RebelCommander7 Star Wars kid says:

    There is a big difference between science fiction earth and science without earth now most of them have earth well Iam sorry but Star Wars is in no way fantasy the fact that something like that was never mentioned seems to me like a little something was left out but I don’t know Iam not that upset over it just think something like that should have ben mentioned

  78. Phoenix Uprising says:

    H.G. Wells is actually a time traveler. How else can he predict such futuristic science so accurately?

  79. Brian Lewis says:

    you missed talking computers and transparent aluminium 🙂

  80. kaxitaksi says:

    I still want to know how they used the three sea shells..

  81. Cynical Observer says:

    I predict that I'll be dead before 30s.

  82. Unknown says:

    I just realized that sci-fi means science fiction xD

  83. Paul Hayden says:

    In 1990 I predicted pay phones would be gone by today. I also predicted newspapers would also be of the past. Back then cell phone were toaster size and very expensive. For us there was no internet, but there were computer BBS that an early PC could dial up.

  84. iKiwi says:

    He seems really dead. He has a monotonous tone.

  85. Scott Cupp says:

    Time travel will be made available to the public in 2028

  86. Daniel Young says:


  87. Christian Rivera says:

    I took a screenshot of the 42 that appears in the tablet when he's talking about Douglas Adams

  88. P B says:

    michael crichton

  89. Alexandra Sheffey says:

    you know the really long comments that go on forever, or at least so that you have to hit the read more button? well I for one can't help felling slightly annoyed every time I do it. but the thing is that the longer comments have actual stuff to say. I don't know why youtube doesn't have maybe a "press this button to all ways read more." can some on plz do that? that would be nice.

  90. Arkady Bogdanov says:

    I'm now left wondering was their a sci-fi author who predicted man-made climate change?

  91. Gary Morrison says:

    When it comes to science fiction predicting the future, you have to be certain about which is cause and which is effect: It’s not as if Werhner VonBraun hadn’t read Jules Verne!

  92. Coco K. says:

    Honestly all inventions come from human imagination so maybe one factor is that the inventors of today were inspired by the ideas that these authors came up with. Not so much predicting the future as directly shaping it

  93. Galaxy Gamer4321 says:


  94. jeopardy60611 says:

    The Jetsons has so many things that are now real. Video phones (FaceTime), Computerized Vegas gambling games, an electronic newspaper with video links (viewable on a machine that looks like a computer but uses soft buttons instead of a mouse), electronic event ticket scanning (but their ticketing system not only validates the ticket but takes you to your seat), and an automatic vacuum that really looks like a Roomba.

  95. Jack's Reptile Room says:

    Another score for science

  96. Sara Lyons says:

    I think my favorite example of this is the one people know the least – Golf in the Year 2000 (1892). Live TV, bullet trains, commercial flight, water-wicking fabric, and an increase in female legislators, the UN, solar power, plus automatic doors 7 years before Wells. The only thing he got wrong is that he thought these developments would all be in the service of golf…

  97. Jean Francois Villacorta Barbat says:

    hey, in my class we are watching your video. its very good. my miss like your video

  98. Daniel Pedersen says:

    This video only makes me think of Dead Space, an awesome science fiction(not science fantasy) video game. The main character of Dead Space is an engineer named Isaac Clarke, and the developers took "Isaac" from Isaac Asimov(I hope I spelled it right) and "Clarke" from Arthur C. Clarke.

  99. Melissa Johnson says:

    I need to read all of these books

  100. Rafael the Cannibal says:

    The english subtitles are desynchronized.

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