PDU Games loves futurism and science. In fact, if we were smarter, we would probably be scientists, but unfortunately, the best we can do is write science fiction and design sci-fi board games and space-exploration board games. As sci-fi writers, we like to keep a close eye on the latest innovations and headlines in world of science, since we try to keep our stories and board games somewhat grounded in realm of possibility. (Emphasis on the word “somewhat”.)
Increasingly, we feel like the line between science fiction and science reality is getting blurred…here’s our list of (just some) the coolest recent innovations that feel more like sci-fi:
#4 Meat That’s Not Meat
“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” – baseball legend, Yogi Berra.
We can’t argue with Yogi here, but there are two predictions we feel comfortable standing behind: (1) people will never stop loving burgers, and (2) when humanity becomes an interstellar space exploring species, we will probably not lug cows along with us during our conquest of the stars. (You don’t want to be trapped on an airtight ship with a bunch of farting cows, trust us.)
Thankfully, conquering interstellar space no longer comes at the expense of giving up one of our favorite foods. Two companies, Beyond Meat and Impossible Burgers, have already begun to commercialize a synthetic burger that tastes like a real burger and in fact bleeds, made from pea proteins and other plant extracts.
Producing a pound of plant-based synthetic meat takes 25x less water and 17x less land to produce compared to a pound of real meat, meaning future space explorers will probably never eat meat that wasn’t made in a lab.
# 3 Flying Cars
Flying cars are probably one of the most iconic and recurring elements of science fiction. Blade Runner (1982) – one our all time sci-fi films of all time – promised us interplanetary colonization, replicants and flying cars by 2019 (now!), but we’ve been completely let down (although in fairness, we still have 6 or so months left for Blade Runner to deliver, so time will tell.)
At least now it seems a future with flying cars is getting closer. At the CES Conference in January of this year, Bell unveiled it’s Bell Nexus, a flying taxi that shuttles a pilot and four passengers from destination to destination in the air. Bell expects to roll our the Bell Nexus by the mid-2020s, and may in fact be forming a partnership with Uber in the process. Now’s the time to start getting your Uber rating back up.
#2 Power armor
If you’ve played Fallout, you know being equipped with solid power armor is must if have any chance fighting off raiders and deathclaws. In SYNDICATE, all soldiers are equipped with bionic-synthetic-enhancements (as are any criminals that can get their hand on the tech)…they need it to stand a chance combatting the marauders in the Arcturus exo space.
In the real world, we’re still a few years from something resembling the tech in Fallout or SYNDICATE; however, Lockheed Martin has already started selling ONYX, a bionic augmentation exoskeleton, to the U.S. army to enhance strength and endurance of soldiers. I put my name on the waiting list for one of the exoskeletons so next time I flip a table after losing a board game I won’t blow out my knees.
#1 Hyperspeed Rockets
Parker Solar Probe, built by NASA to study the Sun, will soon become the fastest rocket every built, reaching a whopping 430,000 MPH. For reference, the Parker Solar Probe will be 11x faster than Voyager 1. At these speeds, we’d be able to travel from NYC to Los Angeles in 20 seconds.
While this is a major leap forward for science and space exploration, on a cosmic scale this still a snails pace. 430,000 MPH translates into roughly 0.06% the speed of light, and at that speed, it would still take more than 5,000 years to travel to our next-door neighbor star system, Proxima Centauri.
(For comparison, in SYNDICATE, PDU Game’s upcoming space / sci-fi conquest board game, interstellar colonist travel to Arcturus on ships traveling 25% the speed of light, or 167 million MPH. NASA’s really got to step up its game or it’s going to make our History of Arcturus read like science fiction, when it’s really a future history of humanities early space exploration. C’mon NASA, we need a win here.)
Bartels, Meghan. (August 10, 2018). “NASA Is About to Launch the Fastest Spacecraft in History. Target: The Sun!” (space.com)
Thomas, Mark. (February 16, 2019). “5 of the Coolest Innovations of 2018.” (Science 101)
Rovito, Markkus. (February 27, 2019). “The Cow-free Burger.” (MIT Technology Review)
Bindley, Katherine and Pierce, David. (January 8, 2019). “The Craziest and Coolest New Technologies That Might Even Matter.” (Wallstreet Journal)