The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What will they (re)think of next?

I am at about the mid-point in the Edgar Rice Burroughs Barsoom (Mars) series. This episode/book details the initial adventures of Ulysses Paxton who, like John Carter before him, is transported to Mars via some sort of astral projection at the point of near death after being horribly wounded on the battlefield in WWI.

This episode was published in 1928. What is most interesting about it is that Paxton falls into the hands of Ras Thavis, who is the "Master Mind of Mars." Ras Thavis is a scientist and doctor (of sorts) who has perfected the transplanation of organs, limbs, and even brains. You might realize that organ transplants didn't exist at the time of the novel's writing.

While we are far from brain transplants, we have advanced rapidly in the re-attachment of severed limbs and organ transplants.

As I read about Ras Thavis, it got me to thinking about a conversation I had with a woman at Paneras a week ago. We were discussing tablet computers and I remarked that I had first seen these on Star Trek - The Next Generation in the early or mid 90's. First, it was touch screen operation of the ship's computer terminals and controls. Then it was eReaders as the crew members would be reading novels on these little hand held devices. We didn't have anything resembling the thin laptop computers then, just portable ones. We didn't even have LCD monitors. Touch screens had existed back in the early days of PCs, though, but they were mushy (like gel filled plastic) and unreliable. You still pressed fairly hard, not merely touched or swiped your fingers across them.

Just as Verne predicted the nuclear powered submarine, science fiction has repeatedly predicted all sorts of advances in science. At the same time as it has shown the imagination's limits. After all, on Barsoom, they are still fighting with swords and have no TVs even though they have flying ships (which seem to resemble sailing ships) and guns.

This is why I am fascinated with science fiction and early science fiction in particular. And I wonder if those who thought up the iPad were also fans...

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