In this case we are asking, which came first... science fiction or reality. And as the debate rages on, we continue to see yesterday's scienfiction become today's reality. Case in point, the MakerBot Replicator introduced at CES this month.
A personal 3D printer avialable now for under two thousand dollars. I know that sounds like a lot, but the first generation Mac's cost more than that. And who could have predicted that we would have a manufacturing plant in our homes? Oh yeah... the Sci Fi writers of course.
So I will let the scholars debate whether the sci fi writers of the past were uber insightful or whether the scientist and inventors of today were simply influenced by the sci fi of their childhood.... and I will just continue to be amazed that we are living in a present that was only recently dubbed science fiction.
You can print just about anything you can design. And if your not so handy with 3d software, just head on over to thingiverse.com and download a design shared by your fellow replicator owners.
Who knows, maybe soon we will all be saying "beam me up Scottie"... but for now, it is amazing news that I can have a "replicator" in my home... now if I can just find my Star Trek uniform ;-)