At the end of December 1922 in Eurasia, a part of the world that united Asia and Europe, several prominent Soviet states were discussing the formation of The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In other parts of the world, precisely in the United States, at the same time a person named Stanley Martin Lieber was born.
The USSR successfully created Soyuz, a spacecraft that allows humans to orbit the Earth. Lieber or Stan Lee when he was the editor of Timely Comics 1942, Lee also successfully gave birth to the imagination of the appearance of supermen humans such as Iron Man, Hulk, Spiderman, to Wolverine.
Lee’s stories are generally peppered with science as well as fiction. Lee once incorporated elements of real science into the world of comics, for example in Superior Ironman # 2, there were foreign characters who successfully shot Iron Man with graphene bullets.
Reporting from Wired, graphene is a “very interesting material.” Made from a carbon layer containing only one atom, graphene is very strong. Its power is produced because this material has a very flexible element, and can rearrange the electrons it has to connect with two, three, or four other atoms. Graphene is a “pure two-dimensional material” which Lee translates capable of breaking through the might of Iron Man.
Michio Kaku, a physicist from the United States, revealed that science fiction cannot be underestimated simply because the essay contains “impossibility.” In the world of physics that he does, “impossibility” is a relative word. That is, the stories Lee told in his comics, such as digital assistants named Jarvis, are not something that is impossible to be created in the real world. One of them was proven by Mark Zuckerberg, founder of social media Facebook.
In an upload on Zuckerberg’s personal page, the alumni not graduating from Harvard University is currently creating a simple version of Jarvis as his personal challenge in 2016. According to Zuckerberg, Jarvis he made “can talk on mobile phones as well as personal computers, which then instructs to control the house, such as turning on or turning off lights, checking the temperature of the room, turning on various household appliances, to playing music.”
In the creation of Jarvis, Zuckerberg combined several programming languages, such as Python, PHP, and Objective C, which were used to create natural language processing (NLP), speech recognition, face recognition on which Jarvis became the basis. Then, Zuckerberg combined it with other company-owned systems, such as the Crestron system, the Sonos system, to the Samsung system so that simple artificial intelligence (AI) can communicate with various devices.
“(In making Jarvis) I used two steps, first I made it possible for Jarvis to communicate with me using text, then I added the ability to speak that enabled Jarvis to translate my words into text,” Zuckerberg said in his upload.
Zuckerberg’s Jarvis version isn’t as perfect as Tony Stark’s in Ironman. According to the husband of Priscilla Chan, “one third of the ability of the human brain is dedicated to the visual aspect, and there are many problems in AI that relate to understanding visual aspects such as pictures or videos.”
Zuckerberg is not alone about trying to bring fiction in the story of the superhero to the real world. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, a startup that seeks to develop an idea-based future transportation system launched by Elon Musk, gave birth to Vibranium to the world.
In the story of Captain America or Black Panther, Vibranium is a strong material mined from Wakanda. This fictional material is famous for having the extraordinary ability to use thermodynamics to absorb, store and release kinetic energy in a controlled manner. Hyperloop, in collaboration with a Slovak material company called c21, created “similar,” material which, as Engadget proclaimed, claimed 10 times stronger than steel and five times lighter than aluminum.
Vibranium Hyperloop version is different. It is not pure material, which is mined from certain locations. Hyperloop-style Vibranium is a material made from carbon fiber composite with additional sensors that can measure the strength, temperature of the Vibranium.
Sophia Brueckner, a researcher, was quoted as saying by the Smithsonian website, saying, “the author has explored the topic of science fiction in extraordinary depths, and I feel when reading his writing will feel as important as reading a research paper.”
Jan Pater, an academic from Masaryk University, in his paper entitled “Impact of Science Fiction Literature on Science and Technology” implies the superiority of fiction is the ability to create a magical world with only thought and pen. This makes someone who creates fiction really have to think hard, not limited to delusions. When published, fiction is not only the author’s, but also the world. This can be seen for example from fiction about robots.
In the paper, Pater called “robot” in the world of fiction first told by Karel Capek. Robot is rooted from the word robota, which means work or workers. Gradually, by many authors afterward, the robot was transformed from just a “worker machine” which only worked on a thing repetitively running into a feeling-peppered worker machine.
Important science fiction is not only important to inspire the creation of technology, but also about education. Hikmet Surmeli in a paper entitled “Examination of the Effects of Science Fiction Films on Science Education Students Attitudes Towards STS Course” says fiction stories have good implications for students. In a study of 36 science students at Mersin University, Turkey, Surmeli concluded “students agree that fictional stories encourage them to study science further.” Science fiction, makes students better understand the subject matter taught at the university.
Making science fiction stories can be done just anyone. However, in the hands of Stan Lee, he not only succeeded in creating another universe besides Earth. His creation of imaginary worlds through Marvel comics has successfully inspired the real world.