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Extreme Vision: Science Fiction or Truth
In this exhibit, we explore ophthalmology in science fiction to find how its predictions measure up to real medicine.
Science fiction is deeply linked to the evolution of both science and technology. It adds invented scenarios to real world developments, creating settings and characters that are unreal and yet believable. The genre often employs space or time travel, advanced technology and alien life forms. It also, occasionally, touches on medical advances.
Medicine was first introduced into science fiction by Mary Shelley in 1818. Victor Frankenstein from Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus was written as a scientist, but the character was re-invented in 1935 as a medical doctor and has remained so in most modern portrayals. Although only 4% of all science fiction is based on medicine, the majority of physician characters, like Dr. Frankenstein, are portrayed as untrustworthy "mad scientists"- an extremely unflattering archetype.
While science fiction may harm the reputation of medicine, it has also been harnessed to help medical education. Since 1992 medical schools like Johns Hopkins have used episodes from the science fiction television show Star Trek: the Next Generation in their curriculum. Instructors of first year medical students have found that teaching ethical issues and the doctor-patient relationship is easier when the patients in question are aliens or otherwise not tied to a student's personal bias.
- Ancient Beliefs
- Dawn of Science Fiction
- Slicks and Pulps
- Vision Enhanced
- Vision Replaced
- Eyes as Security