Two years before his death, legendary science and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov kicked off a TV pilot dedicated to exploring the faint and ever-shifting boundary separating science from science fiction. By highlighting advances in science and technology, Asimov sought to prepare viewers for the world of tomorrow by providing them with glimpses of what the future might hold.
The series never got picked up, but when Asimov died in 1992, the pilot was adapted into a 40-minute documentary titled Visions of the Future. Featured here is the documentary in its entirety.
From the introduction to the first video, featured above:
The line between science fiction and true science is often thin and sometimes difficult to define... [that boundary] is constantly moving as science redefines science fiction. The dreams of just a few years ago are today's commonplace events.It is this boundary that was the lifelong fascination of Isaac Asimov. The mission of this series is to examine that boundary — that moving target.
Isaac Asimov launched this video project two years before his death. It synthesizes his visionary concepts with his scientific roots. This first volume contains the highlights of his last major interview, and serves as both a mission statement and a tribute to one of the greatest science and science fiction writers ever known.
Asimov's ruminations on the interplay between science and science fiction echo those of Carl Sagan. "Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century, particularly with respect to Mars," Sagan said in his moving message to future explorers of Mars. He continues:
The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists to find out more about Mars, which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science; and that sequence has played major role in our present ability to get to Mars. It certainly was an important factor in the life of Robert Goddard, the American rocketry pioneer who, I think more than anyone else, paved the way for our actual ability to go to Mars. And it certainly played a role in my scientific development.
The ability of SF to unite the spheres of science and science fiction is the reason Ray Bradbury was asked to present his poem "If Only We Had Taller Been" to a Caltech lecture hall, packed with NASA scientists and engineers, on the eve of Mariner 9's entry into Mars orbit; and why the Agency named the Curiosity Rover's landing site in his honor.
As Neil deGrasse Tyson told io9 last year, "Good science fiction inspires people to pursue science every time."
[Spotted on Brain Pickings]