Inspired By Science Fiction?

Technovelgy readers, I need your help! I'm doing a talk on science fiction and innovation at the Wharton business school, and I need a list of people who were inspired by science fiction in their careers. Also, I need more examples of modern-day scientists who have specifically stated that particular ideas were inspired by, or taken from, science fiction.

For example, Paul Krugman was fascinated by Isaac Asimov's ideas about psychohistory, and became an (Nobel prize-winning) economist. Yuri Gagarin, first man in space, was inspired by Verne's tale of a voyage from Earth to the Moon. Admiral Richard Byrd said on the eve of his polar voyage "Jules Verne guides me." Dr. Peter Diamandis, Founder and Chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, was inspired by Robert Heinleinís books about private development of space flight and the moon.

Specific inventions include the cell phone, invented by Martin Cooper who says that he was inspired by Star Trek's communicator. William Beebe invented the bathysphere; he was inspired by Jules Verne's 20K Leagues Under the Sea. Dr. Cynthia Breazea, MITís Personal Robots Group, loved to play with Star Wars robots as a child, and now develops social robots like C3P0. Captain Cal Lanning, US Navy, has stated that 'Doc' Smith's Directorix from Gray Lensman directly inspired the Navy's Combat Information Centers in warships. Will Wright, creator of The Sims, credits Stanislaw Lem's "kingdom in a box" as a major inspiration for his program. Physicist Leo Szilard was inspired to solve the problem of atomic chain reactions by H.G. Wells. Electronics engineering professor Yukiharu Uraoka, was inspired by science-fictional detective Manga Detective Conan to create ultrathin computer memory. MIT Engineering PRof. David Miller showed Star Wars to his class, and asked that they create the training remotes for the space station. Theyíve been successfully tested on the IST. A rotopod robot created by Damian Lyon and Frank Hsu was directly inspired by Clarke's tripod robots from Rendezvous with Rama.

I'll post the finished list as an article, and add to the rest of the site as usual.

I'm sure you know specific examples as well. Please use the comment form for this article, or use the website Contact form if you want to leave specific URLs with more information (which would be great!).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/14/2011)

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