Ladies and gentlemen, we have traveled another year into the future! It looks like we still don’t have flying cars or robotic butlers, and we still haven’t made contact with any alien civilizations, but the 21st Century is young. Just look at some of the advances in science and technology we saw in 2013, and you’ll know awesome things are around the corner.
In early 2013, scientists confirmed the discovery of the Higgs Boson, a critical missing piece in the standard model of quantum physics. As a science fiction writer, I found this to be rather disappointing. Science fiction depends on those unknown elements of science, and failure to find the Higgs would have created a lot of fresh unknowns. Still, there is one question that remains unanswered: now that we’ve discovered this powerful and elusive particle, what are we going to do with it?
Science fiction got a big boost last year from the Curiosity rover on Mars. For decades, astronomers assumed Mars was totally barren, severely limiting our story telling options. Now it seems the Red Planet might be able to support life after all. Curiosity has discovered the basic chemical components necessary for life. It also discovered trace amounts of liquid water. Scientists now believe water is everywhere, scattered across the Martian surface by sandstorms. Two questions remain: did Mars support life at some point in its past, and might there be something living there today?
Lastly, Amazon got a lot of attention by suggesting it might offer an aerial delivery service using robotic drones. Drones are becoming increasingly common in our skies. Hobbyists use them for fun, the military uses them to spy on enemy combatants, and the NSA uses them (probably) to spy on everyone else. The media is starting to use them as well, sending “journalistic drones” where no journalist has gone before. The big question is do we want all these drones zipping around overhead? I suspect either Congress or the FAA will address that question soon, probably by the end of 2014.
On a personal note, I had a lot of bad luck in 2013 and fell way behind on my writing schedule. That’s not to say 2013 was a complete disaster, but now that it’s over I say good riddance and look forward to a happier and more productive 2014. With all these unanswered sciency questions, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of material to write about.
What are you looking forward to in 2014?