Science-fiction from real life

A couple of weeks ago I linked to a talk by PZ Myers in which he noted that the double jaws of moray eels are remarkably similar to those found on the Aliens. That got me thinking about what else science-fiction movies or books or even games have borrowed from real-life. I’ve already done zombies (and I’m not talking about necrophilia), so I’m not going there again. Here’s some other interesting stuff though.

Predator


I don’t know if the creators of the Predator franchise knew about it or not, but there’s a fish with pretty much exactly the same kind of jaw. That fish is the Sarcastic Fringehead (Neoclinus blanchardi)
Sarcastic fringehead (Neoclinus blanchardi)
(Image via Adriane Honerbrink)

The greatest single thing about the Sarcastic Fringehead (aside from the name of course) is that its very much alike the Predators in character as well. It’s very aggressive about its territory and the jaws are apparently generally opened that wide only to frighten or fight off intruders, especially other fringeheads.

Ants take over the world


(Image via Guide2Games)

The game Earth Defense Force (and its remake) starts with a race of giant bugs trying to take over the Earth. Most of the game you’re simply fighting against ants, but spider’s and different types of beetles make their delightful appearance as well. While giant ants may seem a little far-fetched, insect overlords may not be. There’s a “new” race of ants that’s taking over the southern United States; they’re teeny-tiny, but they come in massive hordes. When one is killed, thousands come to attack the killer. They have taken over houses, disabled power-plants and done all kinds of other damage in the wake. They also spread pretty much wherever humans go and since they’re so very small, they’re also difficult to detect. Living in Finland I can only hope that they’re intolerant enough to cold that they won’t spread here too soon.

Fully functioning replacement limbs

Nina Sharpe on the show Fringe has a completely mechanical right arm. The arm is fully functioning and capable of even subtle movements and at least to some extent it is also touch sensitive. Other movies, for example Matrix, rely on the brain transmitting sensation to the body from a virtual reality. For a long time both examples have been lodged firmly in the realm of science-fiction although people have been working on them for a long time. But now we are fast approaching the time when full sensory virtual reality will become fact instead of fiction. Duke University’s Center for Neuroengineering has a program called Brain-Machine-Brain-Interface (BMBI) which has recently made a breakthrough. They have managed to test their BMBI on monkeys, who were successfully able to identify virtual textures with a virtual hand and pick the correct one.

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