Sci-Fi Technology That Scientists Are Actually Working On

on March 02 2012 5:01 PM
  • Warp Drive
    Warp drive, a faster-than-light propulsion system used in nearly every sci-fi show from Star Trek to Doctor Who to Battlestar Galactica violates Einstein’s theory of relativity. After all, nothing can travel faster than light, right? Sort of. A hypothetical theory called the Alcubierre drive may have a way around that. Thought of in 1994, the Alcubierre drive deforms the geometry of space, forming a bubble that a ship could ride like a wave. Inside the bubble, the ship would be stationary; meaning light within the bubble would travel faster than the ship itself. Of course, it’s pure hypothesis right now, but even if it did work, there is the pesky problem of the ship vaporizing everyone in front of it when it stops moving. As the ship deforms the geometry of space, particles that get caught in the bubble deform as well. When the ship stops, “any people at the destination would be gamma ray and high energy particle blasted into oblivion” from the force of the particles bursting forth, according to a study on the Alcubierre drive published Feb. 24. Reuters
  • Teleportation
    Everyone has wanted to say “Beam me up, Scotty” at some point and scientists are working to make that a reality – and succeeding. Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia were able to teleport light from one place to another without physically moving it. It was destroyed in one place and instantly resurrected in another. The image above is the device used to teleport it. Researchers used quantum manipulation, squeezing, photon subtraction, entanglement and homodyne detection to teleport the light, according to Popular Science. All you need to know is that you’re one step closer to living out your Star Trek fantasy. Just don’t wear a red shirt. Science
  • Driverless cars
    Some people use their phone behind the wheel of their car like it’s already driverless, so why not make it a reality? Google tested seven driverless cars which have driven 1,000 miles (1,600 km) without any human intervention as of 2010. The cars combine Google Street View with artificial intelligence software that works in conjunction with video cameras, light-sensing technology and radar to drive itself. No word on when the car will be available, but there are rumors that Google will showcase the cars at the Las Vegas Auto Show or the Consumer Electronics Show in the near future. Flickr
  • Tractor Beam
    The scourge of cows everywhere, a tractor beam is a device that can attract an object from a distance. Researchers from the Australian National University created a tractor beam that can move small particles 5 feet (1.5 meters) through the air. The device uses a laser beam to trap the particle in a ring of light then moves it using air pressure differences and heat. However, since it relies on air, there’s no chance of it working in space. But on the bright side, once this tractor beam becomes commercially available you’ll never have to complain that the remote is all the way on the other room again. NASA
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The Jetsons animated sitcom was set  50 years away in 2062 yet flying cars, jetpacks andautomatic breakfast machines imagined in the show still don't exist, nor does anyone have their very own Rosie the Robot.

But that doesn't mean that scientists aren't trying.

Below are some sci-fi tech projects scientists are working on that may make your life feel a little more futuristic.

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