Wednesday, May 2, 2007

1900 to 2000 - A Century of Predictions

Here’s something I never thought I would write: I just read a fascinating article in The Ladie's Home Journal

An article by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. titled “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years” is a list of predictions from December 1900 to the year 2000. Despite the fact that at the time, they must have sounded like pure science fiction, some come true with amazingly accuracy.

In the article, Mr. Watkins writes “These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible. Yet, they have come from the most learned and conservative minds in America.

Here is a look at some of the technological and society predictions.

What came true & exceed the prediction:

Prediction #5: Trains will run two miles a minute, normally; express trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour. Cars will, like houses, be artificially cooled.

Prediction #15: No Foods will be Exposed. Liquid-air refrigerators will keep great quantities of food fresh for long intervals.

Prediction #18: Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. We will be able to telephone to China quite as readily as we now talk from New York to Brooklyn. By an automatic signal they will connect with any circuit in their locality without the intervention of a “hello girl”.

I wouldn’t be a surprise to see these prediction in a similar magazine article published a few years ago or in the near future:

Prediction #16: There will be No C, X or Q in our every-day alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary. Spelling by sound will have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of condensed words expressing condensed ideas, and will be more extensively spoken than any other.

Prediction #17: A university education will be free to every man and woman.

Than there are the prediction that have turned out to be inevitably dead wrong, even laughable:

Prediction #17: Etiquette and housekeeping will be important studies in the public schools.

Prediction #27: Few drugs will be swallowed or taken into the stomach unless needed for the direct treatment of that organ itself.

Wish it were true:

Prediction #3: Gymnastics will begin in the nursery, where toys and games will be designed to strengthen the muscles. Exercise will be compulsory in the schools. Every school, college and community will have a complete gymnasium. All cities will have public gymnasiums. A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling.

Prediction #11: No Mosquitoes nor Flies. Insect screens will be unnecessary. Mosquitoes, house-flies and roaches will have been practically exterminated. Boards of health will have destroyed all mosquito haunts and breeding-grounds, drained all stagnant pools, filled in all swamp-lands, and chemically treated all still-water streams. The extermination of the horse and its stable will reduce the house-fly.

Prediction #15: Storekeepers who expose food to air breathed out by patrons or to the atmosphere of the busy streets will be arrested with those who sell stale or adulterated produce.

Second Life: Ima goin to the courts

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