I’ve been fascinated by science since childhood. While growing up in New Jersey, my bedroom featured plastic anatomical models of the heart, brain, and eye; posters of the human circulatory system; trilobite fossils; and science fiction books. My childhood interest in science arose from my desire to learn how the world works, and my passion for science fiction.
As a teenager, one of my favourite science fiction tales was Henry Hasse’s 1936 story ‘He Who Shrank’, which describes the exploration of subatomic universes filled with machine civilisations. Many scientists and science popularisers were kickstarted in life by reading science fiction.
Science fiction has had a profound effect on the evolution of scientific research, and the development of scientific theory. Moreover, science fiction has often been a useful source of scientific ideas. I like to think of science fiction as the literature of edges, because the topics are poised on the edge of what is and what might be.
Certainly, science fiction is a literature of change. Moreover, our universe is a science fiction universe filled with mystery, constantly fluctuating and evolving. Isaac Asimov said that ‘science fiction is the only form of literature that consistently considers the nature of the changes that face us, the possible consequences, and the possible solutions’. Most scientists grew up reading science fiction, so how could science fiction not affect scientific research and theories?
As I mention in one of my most popular books, Sex, Drugs, Einstein and Elves: Sushi, Psychedelics, Parallel Universes and the Quest for Transcendence, many of my science books include science fiction story lines to stimulate readers’ interest in the serious science. For example, my nonfiction books Black Holes: A Traveller’s Guide, Time: A Traveler’s Guide, The Stars of Heaven, Surfing through Hyperspace: Understanding Higher Universes in Six Easy Lessons, The Mathematics of Oz: Mental Gymnastics from Beyond the Edge, The The Loom of God: Mathematical Tapestries at the Edge of Time and The The Paradox of God and the Science of Omniscience all feature fictional characters who investigate astronomy, physics, mathematics and religion.
Clifford Pickover is author of books including The Möbius Strip: Dr August Möbius’ Marvellous
Band in Mathematics, Games, Literature, Art, Technology, and Cosmology (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)), and Sex, Drugs, Einstein and Elves: Sushi, Psychedelics, Parallel Universes and
the Quest for Transcendence (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)). See his website.