This is part of a series of blogs about creativity, imagination,
and the need to shape our future. See this previous bog:
Living With Rejection: Living the Creative Life
The future of humankind is now directly tied to our imagination. Whether we know it or not, we have taken on the task of managing the Earth itself. With the effect that technology has had and will have on the environment, we must learn to imagine a world that we are now in charge of.
While we have abundant data from satellites, photographic imaging, temperature readings, the rate of glacier melting, etc., this is only the beginning. This is merely data. This data must be combined in sophisticated ways to create knowledge. And then with a foundation of knowledge we must begin to imagine what our world will look like in 50 years or 100 or when our great-grandchildren are alive. For the first time in our history we must look at ourselves and monitor our effect on the world's climate.
The task is huge. it requires people who can think across a number of disciplines -- which takes many years of study, many more than it takes to get a standard advanced degree in only one subject. Then it requires that people think 'outside the box' to find a way that we can live with and mitigate the impact of human technology on the Earth.
This is a tall order. But a key is the ability to imagine what the future could be. As I wrote in my blog The History of the Future , the future must first be imagined before actual working inventions, concepts and formulas can be created. I call this initial thinking 'The Work of the Imagination'.
The Imagination Connection Between:
Jules Verne's novel From the Earth to the Moon (1865)
and the Apollo landing on the Moon in 1969
Book cover of an English translation of Verne's novel of 1865.
"During their return journey from the moon, the crew of Apollo 11 made reference to Jules Verne's book during a TV broadcast on July 23, 1969. The mission's commander, astronaut Neil Armstrong, said, 'A hundred years ago, Jules Verne wrote a book about a voyage to the Moon. His spaceship, Columbia [sic], took off from Florida and landed in the Pacific Ocean after completing a trip to the Moon. It seems appropriate to us to share with you some of the reflections of the crew as the modern-day Columbia completes its rendezvous with the planet Earth and the same Pacific Ocean tomorrow.' "
NOTE: In Jules Verne's novel the command module was shot into space by Americans from a location in Florida just as the Apollo 11 mission had done. In the novel the method for firing the command module into space was with a Columbiad super-gun.
Now many of the things imagined will not be built or will not work, but from a world community of imaginary technologies and outcomes, the necessary ideas and technologies could emerge.
Late Breaking News!
The Supertramp's Logical Song of 1979 says it best:
(Album: Breakfast in America)
When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they'd be singing so happily,
Joyfully, playfully watching me.
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical.
(Left) A MAGIC BULLET: In the early 1900s physician and scientist Paul Ehrlich imagined an ideal medicine, a 'magic bullet', that would attack harmful diseases but would avoid hurting the normal body. This idea has been a key concept in the development and discovery of a number of modern medicines, such a cancer drugs and antibiotics.
(Middle) WAR OF THE WORLDS: Robert Goddard was inspired by the fictional novel War of the Worlds of H. G. Wells which he read in 1898 at the age of 16. Considered the father of American rocketry, in this picture taken in 1926 he was standing next to the first liquid-propellant rocket -- an essential element of modern rocketry.
(Right) 2-WAY WRIST RADIO: In 1946 a 2-Way Wrist Radio was introduced in the Dick Tracy comic strip. In 1964 this turned into a 2-Way Wrist TV that Dick Tracy wore. A small wireless portable easy to use communication device such as this became a central idea that led to the development of cell phones.
So I collected photographs of Newgrange, read reports, and put together data about the way the sun entered the passageway. Next I imagined myself in that passageway as the sun entered it around the time of the winter solstice. The light came in, advanced down the opening, reached to the back and then receded -- an event that took about 17 minutes. As a photographer with 40 years experience I could see all of this quite clearly in my mind.
A REMARKABLY DETAILED DESCRIPTION
OF HOW IMAGINATION CAN WORK
BY THE FAMED INVENTOR NIKOLA TESLA
(Left) Nikola Tesla "in front of the spiral coil of his high-voltage Tesla coil transformer" in 1896.
(Right) Mark Twain playing with electricity in Tesla's lab in 1895.
that he first imagined in detail in his mind.