This article elaborates how science fiction can inspire innovators in their lives. Adam Steltzner, Curiosity Lead Engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, reveals that he was a big fan of Larry Niven’s Lucifer’s Hammer, Ringworld, and his Known Space stories. Steltzner says he was intrigued by having a job where somebody might put him in a helicopter and send him somewhere exotic. Science fiction gave him models of smart people using their smarts, usually in some technical way, to figure out problems and exploit that. That model of a smart guy as a hero motivated Steltzner. Science fiction also allows him to ponder what might be. His favorite stories inspire him to figure out what is far out and what might actually be possible. Steltzner says if he could have any sci-fi invention, it would be a flying car. It would give him the ability to use all the three-dimensionality of the world to get around all the bumps and wrinkles and curves.
How Fiction Puts the Science in Engineering
Alan S. Brown is associate editor at Mechanical Engineering magazine.
Brittany Logan is a freelance writer based in Paris.
Brown, A. S., and Logan, B. (February 1, 2015). "How Fiction Puts the Science in Engineering." ASME. Mechanical Engineering. February 2015; 137(02): 32–39. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2015-Feb-1
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