I thought I’d take a scenic diversion from more modern science fiction, and touch upon some far older predictions of future science: those found in the works of the early 17th century statesman Francis Bacon, justly famous for his works on improving human knowledge, and considered an early “modern” scientist. I’m focusing on his 1626 Utopian fable, New Atlantis (which may be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg here). This uncompleted piece, in which he outlines the plans for a scientific research institute (“Salomon’s house”), is interesting enough just for that, but there are some prescient and occasionally astonishing predictions for future science in there as well, both as descriptions of what the inhabitants of his imaginary island are engaged in researching, and as possible future projects, which is what I’ll be looking at.
How “right” should the science in science fiction be?
This is one of those questions that tends to rise to the surface every so often, and then sinks beneath the waves again, after a lot of turbulent discussion. I’ve certainly been guilty of it myself, but, hey, we all like a good argument every now and then, right?