Science
Great Leaps of Imagination: Jules Verne

Today is the 189th anniversary of the birthday of Jules Verne, the French author of many science fiction classics such as 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and Around the World in 80 Days. You can find a brief tribute to Jules Verne at the Smithsonian Libraries, with the photo below that shows some of the incredible inventions he imagined.

It’s hard to know the kind of impact that Jules Verne had on people, especially those reading his books in the age before movies and television. As a book lover, I have always thought that a book creates its own movie in your head, and it’s your movie, and your imagination that’s doing the work. What Jules Verne offered was the opportunity to imagine worlds that you had never experienced yourself and to travel by sea, by air, by space to find those new worlds. So, in honor of Jules Verne and the leap year, let’s allow our imagination to take great leaps instead of little ones in the year ahead.

More about Jules Verne

If you’re a big fan of Jules Verne, you might join the North American Jules Verne Society unless you’re not living in North America.

Here’s a page that lists all of Verne’s works. I like the short summaries of some of his 54 novels such as:

From Earth To Moon

Barbicane and members of the Baltimore Gun Club conceive of a plan to travel to the moon via a gigantic cannon.

Topsy-Turvy or The Purchase of the North Pole

The North Polar Practical Association has plans on making a purchase of all the territory north of the 84th parallel. This association is in reality the members of the Baltimore Gun Club, including Secretary J.T. Maston, President Impy Barbicane and Captain Nicholl.

Maybe Jules Verne imagined how makers would get together in clubs and do amazing things.

Do you have a favorite Jules Verne novel? I’d have to say that I loved Mysterious Island. I realize there’s some kind of movie version in theaters now, which I’m pretty sure is not as good as the version I created as an eleven-year-old.

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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

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