Comment »Posted on Sunday 12 April 2009 at 12:53 pm by Jacob Aron
In Getting It Right, Inventions & Technology, Weekly Roundup

Nine scientific words that are actually from science fiction

Jeff Prucher, freelance lexicographer and editor for the Oxford English Dictionary’s science fiction project has put together a list of common scientific words that originated in fiction. Such terms include “robotics”, “ion drive” and even “zero-gravity”.

Reading the comments of the article however, it seems that this may not be entirely accurate. Jack Williamson is credited with coining “genetic engineering”, but one commenter points out that Williamson himself admits “some scientist beat me by a couple of years.” He does claim credit for “terraforming”, however – but that’s not even on the list.

The technologies of Red Dwarf

Red Dwarf returned to our screens this weekend, and as a long-time fan of the sci-fi sitcom I wasn’t too impressed. Oddly enough, I felt that the lack of a laugh track actually harmed the show – something I’d never normally say!

To mark the occasion, Cnet gives us Red Dwarf’s six greatest technologies, along with a comparison to real-world equivalents. Some of the links are tenuous at best (is Facebook really the equivalent of storing someone’s personality on disk?), but it’s good for a laugh.

The time-travellers cheat sheet

On a more serious note, if you found yourself travelling back in time to a technologically-barren past, would you have the knowledge to rebuild society yourself? If the answer is no, you need this handy cheat sheet:

Click for a bigger view, and hang it in your time machine.
Click for a bigger view, and hang it in your time machine.

Created by, this handy document covers everything a would-be time traveller needs to know to get things up and running again. How do you make penicillin? What’s the speed of light? Do you know the chemical formula for super glue? It’s all in there, along with a whole lot more – and remember, because you’re doing it before the original inventors, take the credit.

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