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16 votes

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke is often credited with the idea of communication satellites. link That was in 1945, long before any artificial satellite had been launched in reality.
Gerald Edgar's user avatar
  • 10.3k
15 votes

First to realize that seasons were reversed above and below the equator?

In the Purgatorio (c.1310) Dante places Mount Purgatory at the antipodes of Jerusalem and follows the rules of hard SF by thinking out all the consequences. Longitude and time zones - this may be the ...
Martin Kochanski's user avatar
10 votes

First to realize that seasons were reversed above and below the equator?

One does not need heliocentrism for this. The path of the Sun in the sky (as seen from the Earth) was well understood in Hellenistic times, and probably long before that. It was also understood how ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
10 votes

Why did Columbus think the Earth was much smaller than it is?

Answering the earlier version of the question first (on Columbus mistakes). There were two main sources of mistakes: exaggerating the size of Asia and underestimating the size of the Earth. Columbus ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

What was the scientific explanation of earthquakes in the 18th century?

Aristotle's idea of earthquakes caused by "winds within the Earth" had much currency for centuries, if they were ascribed to natural causes at all. Here is from Agnew's History of Seismology ...
Conifold's user avatar
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9 votes

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

One such case comes to my mind: Jules Verne's novel Green ray (1882). Jules Verne popularized this rare phenomenon, and it seems that it has not been scientifically studied before. After Jules Verne ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
8 votes

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

Paul Krugman's research was caused by Isaac Azimov's Foundation novels. (For this answer, you have to accept economics as a science and you have to accept "caused scientists to do real research" in ...
user10089's user avatar
8 votes

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

While it may not be research exactly, the fictional cases of Sherlock Holmes did actually influence the way real world police agencies and detectives approached forensic science. Sir Arthur Conan ...
citrus128's user avatar
  • 181
8 votes

What is the first clear mention of ocean currents?

Wikipedia gives no examples of written mentions from ancient times because there are none. And by the time written records arrive what they record is not really "discovered". Ancient ...
Conifold's user avatar
  • 77.1k
7 votes

Early geographically accurate drawings of Earth

Wikipedia has a good list of such maps. The first one for me that shows the continents roughly as we see today (Minus Antarctica) seems to be the Kunyu Wanguo Quantu 1602 map, included below, which is ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
6 votes

When and how was the water cycle discovered?

In Aristotles Meteorology, we have: Now, the sun, moving as it does, sets up processes of change and becoming and decay, and by it's agency the finest and the sweetest water is carried up and is ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
6 votes

How did Kelvin square his low estimate of the age of the sun with the geological evidence?

Kelvin did think that "uniform density with a fudge factor" was good enough. The more detailed considerations of the density profile were made by T.J.J. See in 1899, where he used the "...
Conifold's user avatar
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6 votes

How did Scott and Amundsen detect the South Pole?

I want to add to this answer some details about "measuring latitude". The instruments used are sextant (for measuring altitude of a star (or Sun or Moon) over the horizon, and chronometer ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

How did Scott and Amundsen detect the South Pole?

I'm certain that Scott and Amundsen didn't detect the exact South Pole but more less reached a position that explorers would think was close enough to count. One technique they probably used was to ...
M.A. Golding's user avatar
  • 1,323
5 votes

When was the mechanism behind seasons on Earth discovered

To explain seasons you do not need a precise measurement of the inclination of the ecliptic, it is sufficient to know the fact. I suppose that this fact was known to the first people who started ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar
4 votes

Why did Columbus think the Earth was much smaller than it is?

I think that observing ships disappear over the horizon would be an imprecise method of calculating the size of the Earth. [added 01-13-21 I found a quote where Aristotle (384-322 BC) mentioned that ...
M.A. Golding's user avatar
  • 1,323
4 votes
Accepted

Significance of partial melting as a form of melt production

The best place to find an answer to this question is probably Mind over Magma: The Story of Igneous Petrology, by Davis A. Young. In chapter 13, The Mechanism of Differentiation, he explains how the ...
Jean-Marie Prival's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Looking for references to an experiment on the evaporation rate of water in sunlight

Israel in the 60's: these experiments were probably from Gerald Stanhill (one of the discovers of global dimming). The "tubs" were probably class A evaporation pans (a fancy name for tubs!). ...
Jean-Marie Prival's user avatar
4 votes

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

There was a boy born on October 5, 1882 who read The War of the worlds (1897, 1898) by H.G. Wells, at age 16 and became interested in space, which led to an experience on October 19, 1899. On this ...
M.A. Golding's user avatar
  • 1,323
4 votes

Has science fiction ever caused scientists to do real research?

The Alcubierre drive concept. Miguel Alcubierre published his first and only paper on the concept while still a PhD student, stating that he drew inspiration from the Star Trek television series. (See ...
BMF's user avatar
  • 141
4 votes
Accepted

Which "experiments to solve geological questions" did Berend George Escher use?

This question highlighted the importance of complete and accurate citations. I spent a couple of hours researching the exact details of the two publications mentioned, after which it took on the order ...
njuffa's user avatar
  • 6,644
3 votes

Looking for early, non-European accounts and theories of volcanism

Here is a first list of things that I've found in the literature. I will update it as I gather more. They are more "accounts" than "theories", but interesting nonetheless (at least ...
Jean-Marie Prival's user avatar
3 votes

Why don't geologists adopt Alfred Wegener as the founder of Continental Drift

First, a correction: This despite his understanding and description of isostasy and the less dense continents floating on the heavy basaltic crust, and despite his measurements of the yearly ...
David Hammen's user avatar
  • 1,777
2 votes

Old perception of the sunset: the sun is going ABOVE the horizen. does anyone heard such a thing?

When I was taught celestial navigation and the art of using a sextant at sea, we learned to take two sightings at sunset: first when the lower limb of the sun met the horizon, and the second for the ...
Peter Diehr's user avatar
2 votes

How Copernicus figured out that it took 7 parts of water and 1 part earth until the entire Earth was submersed in water

I am not able to give a complete answer to your question and admit that I do not really understand what Copernicus is saying, but give this as background information: The notion that the proportion of ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 3,475
1 vote

Looking for early, non-European accounts and theories of volcanism

Joseph Needham wrote an extensive series on books, all titled "Science and Civilization in China", with the various volumes dedicated to different topics. The volumes are freely available on ...
bob1's user avatar
  • 121
1 vote

How would land "mount steadily in a continuous rise" if there was no difference between center of gravity and magnitude, according to Copernicus

I think here "center of magnitude" simply means the geometric center (center of the sphere). If it did not coincide with the center of gravity, the ocean surface would be different from from the ...
Alexandre Eremenko's user avatar

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