Timeline for a Short Course on Science Fiction
Created by twilliamson on Sep 2, 2008
Last updated: 03/11/10 at 11:04 PM
The first successful animal cloning from an adult cell took place in July of 1996. Dolly, sparked much concern over the ethics of cloning. This has become a popular science fiction debate/storyline in recent years. The of cloning had been around since shortly after Watson and Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA. Dolly brought the reality of cloning to the mainstream public.
In June of 1993, Steven Spielberg released his adaptation of Michael Crichton's 1990 novel, Jurassic Park. In the story, dinosaur DNA is extracted from mosquitos crystalized in amber. The DNA is then used to clone dinosaurs which are put on display in a large theme park off of Costa Rica. Mayhem ensues and the film went on to gross nearly $1 billion worldwide!
There was little known about the surface of Venus until the arrival of the Magellan probe in 1990. The resulting radar images gave us an impressive view of the surface of the planet. Venus in reality is vastly different from Bradbury's Venus in "All Summer in a Day." The image above is of the Eistla Regio area of Venus.
Lawrence Watt-Evans story of a young man working in a greasy spoon diner that connects multiple dimensions/alternate worlds.
The late 1970s and early 1980s saw the rise in personal home computers. Computers of the early 70's were far too expensive for home use. In the mid-70's people could buy a kit to assemble their own home computer, still a daunting task. By the late 70's and early 80's companies were mass marketing pre-constructed computer units. The picture shows an IBM 5150 from 1981. Note the lovely text color and the 5.25 inch floppy disk drives.
George Lucas released the first installment of the original Star Wars Trilogy. Though science ficiton had been popular for nearly 50 years at this point, Star Wars brought in hordes of new fans. Ironically, Star Wars is often referred to as "space opera" because of the themes of romance and the general lack of any scientific explanation for events in the movie.
On the 20th of July, 1969 Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.
Images of the surface of Mars were first taken in 1965. Until those images, many people expected to find liquid water on the surface of Mars. These images changed the perception of the Red Planet from some of the wildly speculative Martian stories of science fiction. The image above is the clearest image showing craters on the surface of Mars taken by Mariner 4.
While conducting computer simulations of weather patterns in the early 60's, Edward Lorenz discovered that by entering the rounded decimal .506 instead of the full value of .506127, the resultant weather predictions were wildly divergent. His original statement included the that a seagull flapping its wings could impact weather patterns forever. Later the seagull was replaced with butterfly, possibly due to a similar discussion in Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder.
part 3 of 3
part 2 of 3
Twilight Zone episode of the Ray Bradbury story. Narrated by Rod Sterling. Part 1 of 3 from YouTube...
In 1957, the USSR launched the first man-made satellite into orbit around the Earth, Sputnik 1. This launch surprised the US and coincided with multiple failed attempts by US Project Vanguard. This event kicked off the space race between the US and the Soviet Union. The image above is a model of Sputnik 1.
Ray Bradbury...part 1 of 3
Watson, Crick, Franklin, and Wilkins working somewhat independently discover the structure of DNA. This understanding of the structure led to a deeper understanding of the function and role DNA plays in the transmission of genetic information.
Ray Bradbury time travel story...video 3 of 3
Ray Bradbury time travel story...video 2 of 3
Ray Bradbury time travel story...video part 1 of 3
Arthur C. Clarke story about a discovery of a monolith on the moon. First published under the title "Sentinel of Eternity". Written for a 1948 BBC competition. This story is an early version of what would become 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles is published containing the chapter: There Will Come Soft Rains. The video clip is an adaptation of the short story.
The first explosion of a Nuclear weapon. The Manhattan Project was organized to determine the potential for using atomic energy to create a weapon. The project was directed by Robert Oppenheimer. The Trinity Test took place on July 16, 1945 in New Mexico and was followed only a few weeks later by the dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan.
In 1938, Orson Welles created a radio play that was an adaptation of H.G. Wells "The War of the Worlds." In the story, Earth is attacked by robotic creatures from outer space. The realism of the CBS radio broadcast took some listeners off guard and there were reports of panic in many places.
Hugo Gernsback published the first issue of Amazing Stories in April 1926. He called the genre the magazine represented "scientifiction" and expected the stories to be "charming romance(s) intermingled with scientific fact and prophetic vision." Due to his role in the early days of science fiction, the annual award for the best SF novel is known as the "Hugo."
HG Wells story of time travel...really more "time travel tourism" than later stories because Wells never tackles "the time travel paradox."
In 1893, Nikola Tesla presented the first use for radio waves. Though his radio didn't transmit sound it did send "wireless" telegraph signals.
Many consider Benz' internal combustion engine car to be the first modern automobile. Though some attempt had been made to use electricity or steam, none had been very successful. Benz paved the way for the early American cars of Ford and Chrysler.
Though more than 20 others were working on the lightbulb at the time, Edison was able to make one that was commercially useful.
Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the message "Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you." Though development of a sound telegraph had been in progress for many years, this is often considered to be the birth of the telephone.
One of Jules Vernes' most popular titles was translated to English. It tells the story of a hidden world at the center of the Earth where dinosaurs still exist.
French writer Jules Verne proposed a method for traveling to the moon in his book released this year. Verne's was basically to fire a ship from a large cannon. Though his overall was not useful, he actually hypothesized that the optimal place for launching such a contraption was from the Atlantic coast of Florida, very near the current launch site in Cape Canaveral.
Largely considered to be the first science fiction novel ever. Shelley wrote Frankenstein at only 19 years old.
Antoine Lavoisier published the first modern chemistry textbook.