At some point, we’ve all watched as a movie character on screen pulls out some fancy widget to accomplish a task and thought, “Dang! That’s really neat. It’d be awesome if that was a real thing.”
A while back, the brain trusts behind Xprize, “an educational nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity,” offered up $10 million to the first person who invents a working tricorder. That’s right, the device Dr. “Bones” McCoy uses on the Enterprise to diagnose ailments could very well become a reality in the next few years.
Xprize has further rewards coming in the future, for creation of a variety of devices that, if a reality, would help mankind in numerous ways. Health Sensors, bionics, organ transplants and dinosaurs are just a few of the available contests up for grabs (you can read about all of them HERE).
The radical announcement got us wondering: “What other helpful devices from movies would we like to see science actually create?” Everything in this list benefits humanity is some form and would be considered both a technological and scientific marvel – meaning, there aren’t any weapons on this list (sorry, no lightsabers or jaegers).
1. Everlasting Gobstopper
Seen in: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
From 1 to 99, we don’t care what age you are – everyone LOVES candy. Willy Wonka was known for inventing wild and out-of-box confectionary treats but none were as fantastic as his Everlasting
Cavities Gobstoppers. The chances of a candy manufacturer creating a piece of food that never goes away is about as good as a tire manufacturer inventing a tire that never loses rubber – but we can certainly dream.
Seen in: Back to the Future 2
Ever since 1989 when Marty McFly stepped out of Doc Brown’s time traveling DeLorean and onto Mattel’s Hoverboard, people everywhere have been eagerly anticipating the year 2015 when the coolest toy ever invented would be heralded into Toys ‘R Us stores everywhere.
Unfortunately, so far all we’ve received from the Back to the Future films are futuristic-looking sneakers from Nike, broken promises, and videos of “inventors” trolling the internet with fakes. Still, if someone was to actually figure out a way to make a Hoverboard become a reality, we’re sure it would immediately receive its own spot at ESPN’s X-Games. Sure, we have a SUV-size rover patrolling the surface of Mars but get back to us when we can hover a foot off our driveway.
3. Electromagnetic Climbing Gloves
Seen in: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
When secret agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) needs to climb a shear rock face, he uses his bare hands, but what does he use when having to climb the glass walls of Burj Khalifa in Dubai? His electromagnetic climbing gloves, of course. The possible uses for an invention like this are almost limitless: firefighters climbing up the sides of buildings to rescue those in distress, S.W.A.T. officers surprising bad guys by sneaking up the back of a building instead of using the stairs, the cast of Jackass drunkenly climbing Trump Tower to moon “The Donald”.
Though nothing official has been announced, Peter Blaber – a former Delta Force commander and author of the book The Mission, The Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander, says in an interview with the Washington Post those gloves are already a reality. Color us intrigued.
Seen in: Elysium
If you’ve ever been the parent of a sick child, then you’ve felt the absolute desperation Frey felt and the lengths she was willing to go to as a mother when trying to get her daughter Matilda to Elysium in hopes that a medbay could cure her leukemia.
Besides the obvious cancer-curing possibilities, imagine an athlete suffering a horrific sport injury (like Joe Theismann getting his leg broken by Lawrence Taylor). Theismann could be carted off the field, fixed in a medbay in 30 minutes, then return to finish the game. An invention like this would, quite literally, change the world – as long as its patients aren’t limited to only those with enough money to live in outer space.
5. Advanced Artificial Intelligence
Seen in: Iron Man, Her, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Audiences loved Tony Stark’s virtual butler J.A.R.V.I.S in Iron Man, Theodore actually fell IN love with Samantha in Her, and HAL 9000 tried to kill everyone in 2001: A Space Odyssey - no matter how you look at it, advanced A.I. is destined to eventually be a part of our lives. Hopefully the realization of A.A.I. is closer to J.A.R.V.I.S. than it is HAL 9000 (at least that’s what programmers Chiragh Dewan and Himanshu Vaishnav hope to accomplish – read about there HERE).
After all, having a computer know what you mean when you talk to it, then both act upon those instructions (or know what your next instruction will be) would be provide indispensable assistance in a variety of scenarios. Tony Stark uses it to help fly his billion dollar suit of armor but what if a doctor could use it to perform life saving surgery?
Seen in: Jurassic Park
Before the eye rolling starts at the ridiculousness of bringing beasts like stegosaurus, triceratops, and brontosaurus back to life, know that we aren’t the first to suggest it as a possibility. Xprize actually has a “Jurassic Park Prize” listed on their prize page as a concept competition they are considering. Cloning isn’t really a new science, remember Dolly the sheep, but that was cloning a living animal and not tissue that has long since been extinct.
Still, imagine a preserve filled with animals that once dominated these lands. If science could bring them back, then they could also bring back the mighty bison, or the odd-looking dodo bird. Obviously a T-Rex running rampant in San Diego isn’t ideal (especially not when Comic Con is going on), so picking the right genus of dinosaur would be extremely important. At the very least, make sure not to piss off the computer tech that is in charge of your entire security grid.
Seen in: Men in Black
Anyone who has ever done something they wish everyone would forget – like say, that drunken time you broke into Sea World to steal a penguin or ripped your pants on the dance floor in front of your prom date. What better way to erase those serious faux pas than with a short term memory eraser?
In all seriousness, scientists have been using flashing lights of various wavelengths in an attempt to treat a multitude of diseases that affect memory, including Alzheimer’s. If a real life reverse-neuralizer could help cure something like that, then we’re all for it becoming a reality.
8. Liquid Breathing Equipment
Seen in: The Abyss
The deepest scuba dive on record is 509 feet, while the deepest deep sea dive on record is 2000 feet – set by Chief Navy Diver Daniel Jackson in 2006 using an Atmospheric Diving Suit. Compare those statistics to the deepest part of the ocean (7 miles deep) and humans have just barely broken the surface of the water.
Sure, James Cameron (Avatar) made it to the bottom, though he did it using a submarine (still an amazing feat) since humans have limitations on how far they can breathe compressed oxygen at great depths. Oxygen toxicity is the main culprit holding us back but breathing oxygen-enriched liquid would theoretically solve that problem – allowing humans to explore the ocean depths without a submarine.
9. Robotic Helpers
Seen in: The Jetsons, Star Wars, I-Robot
In real life, most robotic assistants are used strictly for medical purposes or mass manufacturing - because regardless of how Hollywood likes to portray them, not every robot or android has to be some hulking, scary, killing machine.
Unfortunately, the robots we have today are just arms or gripper fingers and not very helpful in our everyday lives. Let’s be honest though, humans can be really lazy, and who better to pick that TV remote off the ground, hang up our laundry, bring us a snack, or mow our lawns than our very own robotic assistant? Just make sure their directives are clear – so that they don’t turn and enslave us.
10. Deep Earth Exploration Vessel
Seen in: The Core
Mankind has built machines to explore vastness of space, the depths of the ocean floor, and even crawl around the surface of Mars but we have yet to truly explore the inside of planet Earth. The Russians have drilled further than anyone at 7.5 miles in the Kola Peninsula (though there’s a $1 billion project underway to go even further) but even those attempts merely use drill tubes and not actual human beings in a ship.
A ship like Virgil used in The Core will most likely never be a reality due to the extreme pressure and heat the hull would have to endure – 3.5 million PSI and 11,000 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the ability to explore what’s under our feet would give science significant insight into the inner-workings of our own planet – as well as other potentially hospitable planets (in the future).
Seen in: Star Trek
How many times have you wished for a teleportation machine to get you to work – just so you could sleep another 30 minutes? If all those wishes were nickels we probably could have funded the development of a REAL teleportation device by now.
However, because of the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, a quantum theory which states you can either know the position or the speed of a particle but never both simultaneously, true teleportation of people and objects from one place to another will likely never see the light of day. That being said, some really smart scientists from Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland and the University of Michigan teamed up in 2008 and successfully “teleported” information from one atom to another atom (about 3 feet away). The process involves protons, lasers and lots of quantum math (read about it HERE).
12. Time Machine
Seen in: Doctor Who, Primer, Back to the Future
This is the “mostly likely never to happen” item on our list – but how cool would it be if time travel actually did exist? We could talk all day about the “Grandfather Paradox,” wormhole space theories, and debate routine time travel questions: could you only travel back to the point the machine was invented and could you go into the future (given that, technically, it hasn’t happened yet).
In reality, we all know if such a device ever existed we’d just go back to 9th grade to ask Bonnie out and play the winning lottery numbers multiple times anyway. In the meantime, this Iranian fellow, Ali Razeqi, claims to have built a working “time machine” that brings the future to you – well, okay then.
Will any of these items on our list actually become a reality in our lifetime? Maybe, maybe not. But at the end of the day, Hollywood and authors often inspire the explorer/scientist/mathematician in all of us to dream bigger and reach farther than we would otherwise – and that’s never a bad thing.
Of course, our list is not meant to be all-inclusive so be sure to let us know what movie ideas you’d like to see become a reality in the comments below.
Follow me on Twitter – @MoviePaul.