Proyecto Visión 21

When reality and fantasy collide, what’s left of reality?

Francisco Miraval

It was recently announced that the Solar System may have a ninth planet, a massive object affecting Pluto and trans-Plutonian dwarf planets. And it was also announced that gravitational waves were finally detected, a century after Einstein predicted them. It is also the case that both an extra planet and the gravitational waves were previously presented in science-fiction works.

So, I was not really surprised by the announcement of a “new planet” far away in the Solar System. And I was not surprised either by the gravitational waves because scientists have been looking for them for 100 years.

But I was surprise to remember that my first contact with those ideas was not during a science class, but in sci-fi or “alternative realities” books or movies. It seems that now those “alternatives” are becoming the accepted reality.

Every time reality and fantasy collide, every time there is clash between fiction and nonfiction, between what it is and what it seems to be, between our beliefs and our desires, the question stated above comes again to my mind: what is left of reality after a collision of reality and illusion?

In other words, if what once was pure fiction is now undoubtedly real, shouldn’t we start doubting of the reality of reality and of the illusoriness of illusion? Could it be possible that fantasy, imagination (and perhaps faith) take us closer to reality than any of our many epistemological, scientific, and rational explanations of reality?

The first image that came to my mind after reading about the detection of gravitational waves was an episode of Start Trek - The New Generation when the spaceship Enterprise uses gravitational waves to escape from danger. 

Several scientists are now saying that it is not unthinkable that in the foreseeable future gravitation waves will indeed be used for space travel. What it was fantasy (or so I thought) two and half decades ago is now a scientific fact.

I also remembered a Star Trek Voyager episode when the crew discovers a planet with an orbit around its star of several thousand years, so the planet is only visible after thousands and thousands of years and only for a short time before returning to the darkness of space.

Now, it seems that the “new” planet needs 10,000 to 20,000 years to go around the sun. So, depending on where that planet is now, perhaps it has never been seen before during the recorded history of humankind or, at best, it was seen only a few times.

So, is fantasy becoming reality? Are the borders between fantasy and reality melting away so it is now useless and irrelevant to distinguish between one and the other? Is an illusion just an illusion, or is it a distraction, an alternative presentation of the true reality?

I don’t know. I don’t have any answers, but I know where to find them: I will watch Star Trek again to see what other fantastic element they introduced which will soon be real.

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