Ten Inventions Inspired by Science Fiction
The innovators behind objects like the cellphone or the helicopter took inspiration from works like "Star Trek" and War of the Worlds
- By Mark Strauss
- Smithsonian.com, March 16, 2012
Two technicians wear pressurized anti-contamination suits as they refurbish manipulator arms. They are inside a "hot cell," a room where radioactive materials are handled remotely. (© Roger Ressmeyer / CORBIS)
In 1942, famed sci-fi author Robert Heinlein published a short story about a physically infirm inventor, Waldo F. Jones, who created a remotely operated mechanical hand. Real-life manipulator arms that were developed for the nuclear industry in the mid-1940s were named “waldos,” in recognition of Heinlein’s innovative idea.