Joelle Renstrom is the creator and author of the blog Could This Happen?, which explores the relationship between science and science fiction.
Science fiction is often speculative in nature, asking “what if…?” So it’s only natural that when we watch or read about some amazing futuristic device or scenario we ask ourselves, “could this really happen?”
Could we reanimate dead tissue?
Could we replicate beings with DNA extracted from fossils (or elsewhere)?
Could we create, erase, or alter memories?
In the last few decades, we’ve learned that the answers to these kinds of questions is rarely, if ever, simply “no.”
In 1945, Arthur Clarke proposed the idea of a communications satellite that would remain in a fixed position over the earth. Half a century ago, Isaac Asimov wrote about the rise of the robot. In 1865, Jules Verne described visiting the moon. At the time of publication, all of these developments seemed unlikely at best and laughable at worst.
Last year, NASA invited science fiction writers to attend a brainstorming symposium about interstellar travel and the possibility of settling among the stars, and Intel recently commissioned science fiction writers to imagine, transform, and write about future applications and advancements of existing technology. Science fiction inspires science. And they both inspire this blog.
Rather than hunting for temporary answers, this blog raises questions, makes connections, and explores technologies forecast and demonstrated in science fiction. Hopefully, readers will think about the future, the ways the world will change, and what their role in it will be.
If This Happened is a new creation and a sister site to Renstrom's primary blog, Could This Happen? A strange, irreverent, and sometimes animated approach to the future, If This Happened seeks to engage readers in speculation about where science and technology might be taking us. Renstrom has received a Somerville Arts Council fellowship for the short fiction featured on the site.