It’s time for the Science Hero Award, where we honor a particular man or woman from history who made a contribution to science. Today’s Science Hero, though, wasn’t a scientist at all, but a science fiction writer. In fact, he was one of the pioneers of the genre of science fiction.
Jules Verne was born in France in 1828 and originally studied to be a lawyer. But he was fascinated with the exploration of nature and the world. Also, he loved writing. In his writing he was able to bring scientific ideas to a general audience. If he were alive today he’d probably be writing for us.
Jules Verne also wanted to challenge people to think about new things that science could bring them. His stories were full of fantastic machines, but they were always things that could in principle be constructed. Because of this combination of knowledge and imagination, he was able to anticipate many things that now actually exist.
For example, you may know that in his novel “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” Verne imagined an enclosed boat that could travel underwater — what we now call a submarine. But did you know that on board his submarine he put another imaginary device, the electric stove? Or that he was one of the first to suggest putting people inside a giant bullet and firing it at the moon? That’s not quite how we got there, but the principle is much the same.
Good science fiction is both fun to read, and can lead to real science. Way to go, Jules!