I recently guested on a podcast called The Nerdlist with hosts Jon and Shawn.
This is a very fun show with a premise I love…discuss each person’s top-ten list of nerd X.
X, of course, is whatever has been decided for each episode like the top 10 science-fiction movies, the top 10 sidekicks, the top ten video game vixens,etc etc…you get the idea.
Well, it turns out that Jon is a fan of the SGU and thought (rightly so) that I would enjoy joining them in a discussion of the top ten pieces of fictional technology. Essentially, any bit of non-existent tech that each of us would love to have whether it’s from movies, literature, comics whatever.
I of course thought this was a splendid idea and promptly accepted Jon’s kind offer and started on my list.
Some cool pieces of tech instantly came to mind like Trek’s transporter and phasers, the terminator etc but instead of jumping in and listing my specific items I decided to first outline 10 broad categories of tech instead of specific items. I realized that no matter how geeky or nerdy you are, there’s tons of fictional tech out there that you’ve never read about or seen. If I came up with ten categories, I could then do some research for the best example in that category and then arrange them into a top-ten list.
I ended up then with categories like Personal Force Field, Battle Armor, Time Travel device etc and then rummaged through my mind and the google-verse for the best examples of each.
Most of my choices ultimately still skewed towards what I had already been aware of and I’m sure some of my choices could still be bested by some relatively obscure bit of sci-fi tech that I’m unaware of. Let me know your ideas.
PERSONAL FORCE FIELD
#10: Personal Shield Emitter From Stargate Atlantis
Who the hell doesn’t want a personal force field??
One of the coolest examples I could find was in a couple of episodes of Stargate Atlantis. Don’t give me any crap about that show. It was a lot of fun on many levels. The device in question was a small palm-sized device that diffuses all forms of harmful energy impinging on your body. This includes energy weapons like lasers and the kinetic energy from bullets or boulders. The shield form-fits itself around the user’s body and and was usually not visible unless actively diffusing for you. As a very nice bonus, it also possesses a built-in inertial dampener which will protect the wearer if he or she falls from a great height. Sweet.
Plausibility Factor: 0%
Sorry, Plasma or laser-based force fields may be a possibility someday soon but, barring the discovery of some incredibly unforseen and exotic physics, it seems insanely unlikely that tech to match the specs of this baby are possible ESPECIALLY the inertial dampener.
PORTABLE DIAGNOSTIC SCANNER
#9) Mark 10 Tricorder From Star Trek
One of the iconic gadgets from Trek needed to be on this list. Having a phaser would be fun, especially for body disposal, but I eventually decided on the ultimate away-mission gadget the Tricorder. The tricorders used in Star Trek have a long and honored history having been used in every series even including alternate future time-lines. This is clearly one of the quintessential bits of Trek Tech and one of the most useful away mission toys. Basically it’s a portable sensor, computer, and recorder. You could use it to minutely examine and give detailed information about any nearby life-forms or anything else in your immediate vicinity. As a pure computing device I’m sure it is many orders of magnitude more sophisticated than the best supercomputer on the planet. Take that China
Plausibility Factor: 100%.
Specifics about precisely how tricorders are supposed to work are very hard to come by (at least in the episodes themselves and after some googling) but it seems a no-brainer to me that a very similar piece of tech will be available in the not-too-distant future.
#8) Data From Star Trek Next Generation
How awesome was Data? (and by extension, Brent Spiner) A genuinely nice android which of course is uncommon in the annals of sci-fi. He wouldn’t go all terminator on you (unless he was his brother Lore). He was also crazy smart, strong, fast and he was fully functional…”programmed in multiple techniques; a wide variety of pleasuring”. Now I don’t play for the robot team but I’m sure Data could give me some pointers on…ummmm…. I’d better move on to the next piece of tech.
Plausibility Factor: 100%
Come on….we all know robots like this are going to happen. Heck, some of us are just counting the days until we all genuflect before our robot overlords….I mean protectors.
#7) GUYVER From the Guyver manga and anime series
A Guyver is a bio-mechanical organism (symbiotic techno-organic) that bonds with a person and becomes one helluva battle suit.
When it’s activated, it engulfs the nearest person in its tentacles in what must be a pretty amazing and frightening experience.
It forms into a very cool looking battle suit that does what battle suits are supposed to do… it enhances the capabilities of its host in many ways including super-strength, incredible speed, strong armor (duh) and various weapons and abilities.
One great bonus is that it quickly disappears into an alternate sub-dimension when you don’t need it. You don’t need a phone booth or advanced robotic arms to help you to put it on or take it off.
The arsenal of weapons at your disposal while wearing your Guyver are not only cool, they’d be damn overwhelming against most anything likely to be thrown at you. Here’s a taste:
The Mega Smasher: Guyver’s premier weapon. 2 high-power particle cannons that hide under the two chest pieces on the suit. Just manually open the hinged doors on your chest and these particle cannons quickly charge and then discharge enough energy to take out multiple buildings or put a serious dent in a mountain.
For lesser destructive tasks you also have multi-directional laser beams and a Sonic Buster to dish out some pain using sound.
There’s also two wicked looking Sonic Swords that can extend from your elbows like light sabers to cut through literally anything.
To top it all off, there’s a Gravity Control device that has 3 uses: as a ranged (gravity cannon) weapon, as a temporary shield and as a way to fly.
Finally, for those really bad days when nothing goes right and you accidentally lose part of your body in battle even if it’s some of your brain, the Guyver will grow it back for you. Let’s see the Iron Man suit do that.
Plausibility Factor: 90%
Much of the Guyver doesn’t seem to violate any known laws of physics with the exception of the gravity control and subdimension stuff. The armor with much of its weapons and healing abilities seems feasible using a combination of advanced synthetic life incorporating mature nanotechnology.
#6) Utility Fog from the mind of J. Storrs Hall
You knew I’d have to have some serious nanotech on my list right? One of the more interesting potential applications of nanotechnology is called a Utility Fog. These appear in many different types of science fiction from comics to books.
Remember the T-1000 from terminator 2. He was essentially made out of a utility fog.
Utility fog consists of trillions or even quadrillions of supercomputer nanobots or foglets. They are cell-sized mechanisms that all have a bunch of arms extending from their surface. With these extendable arms they can link together to communicate and quickly reconfigure themselves to be anything you need in your environment (except food) whether its a solid liquid or gas. Color and texture would also be duplicated. The foglets could actually be your whole environment including your entire house. Even the air you breath and walk thru would be about 10% made of foglets. Change your house at will, make furniture or rooms appear and disappear. That is actually some of the mundane tasks foglets would be good for. Imagine talking to your friend thousands of miles away. His foglets invisibly surround her sensing everything she does. This information is communicated to the foglets in your house which then make a duplicate of your friend so it appears she’s right next to you having a talk. I know what your thinking and the answer is yes. Hmmm…maybe this item should be moved closer to my number 1 spot.
Ok, I can top that. Imagine the time when we’re made out of these foglets. Nuff said.
Plausibility Factor: 100%
As magical as foglets would appear if you could experience them now, there would be nothing really magical about them. They are actually an extremely reasonable extrapolation of current trends in nanotechnology and they really are just a matter of when, not if. No laws of physics were broken in the filming of this concept.
Wow, look at the time. Stay tuned for next Friday for my all-time top 5 pieces of fictional technology. If you thought these 5 were good, you aint seen nuthin yet