At work today, I emailed in a request for maintenance to check the thermostat. A short while later, a maintenance guy walked in, pointed a small box at one of our filing cabinets, pressed a button, and the box produced a small red dot on the filing cabinet. The maintenance guy looked at the device, nodded, and walked off.
I didn’t think much of it (we use infrared thermometers all the time, and a metal filing cabinet would be a good indicator of the ambient room temperature) — until I realized just how bizarre that scene, unexplained, would have seemed to someone from only twenty or thirty years ago. What was that man doing? What was the box? Why did he point a light — maybe a laser? — at our filing cabinet?
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
–Arthur C. Clarke