October 21st 2015 is finally here. Yup, the day Marty McFly used a time machine to visit the future… a world full of cool tech. Someone with a lot more time than me recently put together a list of things that have come true – among them the hoverboard but the example the writer uses is not the coolest one out there (in my opinion). Check out this one by the good folks at Lexus. Ok I know it’s not a “true” hoverboard but it’s a giant step towards it. And being a sappy soul I just love this statement “the difficult takes time, the impossible just takes a little longer”.
It’s difficult to tell whether Hollywood takes inspiration from science or whether scientists are inspired by what they see on the big (and the little) screen. Maybe it’s a symbiotic relationship as in the case of The Martian – Ridley Scott consulted with NASA at great length while producing his latest blockbuster. Or maybe they all get inspiration by looking at the catalog of patents that are granted each year. Over the years inventors have imagined and patented a wide range of goodies. Some have been more successful. But some are wildly amusing. I recently watched a video about a “safety car”. Judging by the spiffy outfits and the rad music I’d say it was from the late 60s. The chest cushion and the catcher bar were especially interesting and thankfully not very popular – I say thankfully because I walked away from a head-on car crash in the 90s where the airbag was deployed rather forcefully and I’m not sure how I would have fared had I been in the same accident with that cushion slamming into my chest*.
Unlike that chap’s outfit, imagining wild and crazy things hasn’t gone out of fashion. The British Rail patented a passenger craft of sorts for interplanetary travel in the 80’s. Although if I may be so bold as to advise the rail companies that we, the residents of this small island, would prefer that they focus their energies on delivering us to our destinations safely and on time on this planet before expanding their territories. If you haven’t been lucky enough to experience it first hand, rail travel here is more often than not delayed due to signal failures, leaves on tracks and freakish weather phenomena such as rain. So I can just imagine hearing this announcement in an overcrowded space port … the 17:05 to Jupiter stopping at the Moon, Mars and Titan has been cancelled due to cosmic dust… 😀
Joking aside, human imagination is only limited by what we allow ourselves to dream. Someone 30+ years ago dreamed of all those gadgets in the movie. Someone with a bit of money thought hey technology has come far let’s see if we can make the hoverboard happen. An engineer with a bit of imagination said I think I can figure out how…
My colleague Sergio Antioquia, who is one of our awesome support engineers, is a fellow sci-fi fan and a pretty dab hand at using FloEFD which is a CAD-embedded CFD software. Like any self-respecting sci-fi fan, he tends to use models from his favorite movies when he wants to test the limits of the software. And in honor of October 21st 2015 he chose the hoverboard:
I must admit that it would be great to see an honest to goodness hoverboard in my lifetime. But judging from the look on the dummy’s face I think I might pass up on the opportunity to try it 😉
Until next time,
* In case you’re wondering what happened, having arrived in England a few hours earlier I was half-asleep in the front passenger seat. The driver, an American, made a u-turn in the middle of a country road and out of habit stayed on the right side. A few minutes later our VW Polo hit a BMW 5-series at such force that both cars were totaled. The two drivers and I walked away sore but without a scratch. In fact, we continued on (in a cab) to the restaurant and caught up with the rest of our colleagues 2 hours late but alive. Hooray for tech!