In 1966, Margaret Thorne, a member of the Junior Historian Club of Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley, West Virginia, published some predictions for the year 2016 in her local paper. Here's what she envisioned for the year we've now arrived at:
The growth of suburbia: "the only land untouched by suburbia will be the national and state parks and forests, that our ancestors were foresighted enough to conserve and a few farms of enormous size in the midwest."
Work: "the vast majority of the people will be seated in front of man's ingenious invention, the computer."
Food: "People will take a pill for breakfast that will supply them with needed nourishment. Algae, a very simple plant, which can be grown in great vats and will multiply rapidly, can be made into very appetizing morsels."
Fuel: "More sources of fuels must be found and methods for bringing the natural resources to the surface. Someone must find ways to captivate the sun's radiation and make it work for us. The sun will need to be our major fuel in the years to come."
Water: "Our water supply will need to be taken from the seas as our lands get drier and drier."
Not bad, all in all. The food-in-pills and ubiquitous spread of suburbia were misses. But she scored on the increasing importance of computers, and she kind of anticipated the development of fracking and growth of solar technology, as well as the water scarcity (which is certainly true here in California).
Many of the engineers' dreams are soon to become realities. Plans are now under way for twin 110-story towers in New York City which will dwarf the Empire State Building. The tunnel under the English Channel now seems assured. Covered, air-conditioned baseball stadiums are being built to do away with the need for rain checks. And the engineers soon hope to place a man on the moon, the first major step toward the exploration of our own galaxy and the galaxies beyond.
He got all this correct!
Fifty years from now some writer will look back and reflect that the in the 60's an engineer who dreamed of the weekend trip to Mars, the University of Space located on Jupiter, the completely automated home where housework consisted of pushing buttons, the aerial highways and helicars, and other commplace things in the year 2014 was considered a "screwball" by his fellow citizens.
An automated home is the closest to being a reality. The rest of it—not even close.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.