Forty years after its premiere, is the movie version of 2001: A Space Odyssey coming true? An article on science website PhysOrg.com claims that Stanley Kubrick's vision of the then-future of space travel and human existence was more prescient than it initially seemed, way back in the swinging '60s.
The article - which begins "When 2001: A Space Odyssey premiered 40 years ago, living and working in space full time was science fiction. Today, three resident crew members are aboard the International Space Station 365 days a year operating one of the most complex engineering projects in history," letting you know just what you're in for - lists the many ways in which the "ultimate trip" has come true:
— One of the most notable visions is the large, low Earth orbiting, revolving space station in the film. Although the shape is different, today's space station is permanently crewed and international. — Flat-screen computer monitors that were unheard of in 1968 are now commonly used on the space station.
The film imagines glass cockpits in spacecraft, which are now present on the flight deck of the space shuttle. — The film also envisions in-flight entertainment in space. Today there are DVDs, iPods and computers with e-mail access. — Another famous scene from the movie depicts an astronaut jogging in space. Aboard the International Space Station, exercise in space is routine. In April 2007, 210 miles above Earth, astronaut Sunita Williams ran the Boston Marathon while in orbit.
And, most importantly, in March 2006, astronaut Dave Bowman was turned into a floating space baby by a giant black slab after surviving a malfunctioning computer trying to kill him and singing "Daisy, Daisy". Strange they don't mention that one.
It's a chilling thought, though; 2001 is many things - long, ponderous, ultimately sterile and a product of pretension and the late '60s zeitgeist to name just a few - but I've never thought of it as a model of the kind of world that I'd want to live in. Can't The Last Starfighter come true, instead?
1968 Science Fiction is Today's Reality [PhysOrg]