Undeserved Credit

Friday, February 29, 2008

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Did you know that Jules Verne didn’t invent all of the things we credit him for? A lot of them — like the modern submarine — were on the drawing boards of engineers and designers at the time he wrote about them. He simply took the one step further of pretending that they already existed.
Ever since then, science fiction writers have had the pleasant perk of getting credit for things that other people did before the writers wrote about them.
The most recent beneficiary of this process? Me.
NASA is currently testing the Environmentally Non-Disturbing Under-ice Robotic Antarctic Explorer robot probe. The ENDURANCE is an underwater vehicle whose descendants may someday explore the deep oceans of Europa (and whose namers are the front-runner for this year’s Tortured Rationale for Acronym Silliness Haward). The news item in Space.Com mentions my own Mitsubishi robot turbot, which was used in “Slow Life” to explore the oceans of Titan.
Very cool. I like it. But let’s be honest here. I stole the idea from Mitsubishi. As per the BBC News item about their most recent, museum-grade robot fish.
And they’re not alone. China’s making great strides on the robofish front. As is MIT. I wasn’t able to find any web footage of Mitsubishi’s cool new fish, but here’s the YouTube footage of what the Boys from Cambridge were able to come up with:
Not that I mind getting credit for other people’s hard work. I get a big kick out of it. Just so long as we’re all aware of exactly who’s doing the heavy lifting here.
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