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Predictions for 2013, made in 1913


Sir Vansittart Bowater, predictor of the future

Back in 1913, Sir Vansittart Bowater, London's new lord mayor, made some predictions for how the world would look like in 2013 [Evening Independent, Dec. 6, 1913]. Now that 2013 has arrived, we can judge how accurate he was:

a horse will excite far more wonder and curiosity in the city than an aeroplane or a dirigible flying over St. Paul's does today
Correct!

the drone of great airships, each carrying perhaps many hundreds of passengers, will also probably be heard across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans
Correct!

these new aircraft will require "the protection of pedestrians and householders, possibly by wire netting laid over the housetops and even over the streets."
I'm not sure if he was foreseeing chunks of frozen poop falling from planes (blue ice). If so, his powers of prediction were impressive. But as for the netting, he was incorrect.

the channel tunnel scheme may be a commonplace of actuality, with train services running every few minutes direct from London to Paris
The trains don't run every few minutes, but he got the general idea right, so I'll give him this.

London will assuredly find part relief from the congestion between now and 2013 by the extension of her suburbs
Correct!

postmarks and stamps may exist only as curiosities
Stamps are gradually on the way out, but they're not gone yet. So I'm judging him incorrect on this.

a visit to Mars or the moon [may] be practicable in 2013... by harnessing the elusive ether, by electricity, or by some other at present unknown force capable of off-setting gravitation.
Correct! It was actually in 1914, one year after Bowater made his predictions, that Robert Goddard filed his first patent for a liquid-fuel rocket that would make spaceflight possible.

such awful scourges as cancer and the hidden plague will be as much a memory as plague and the 'black death' are to us today
Not sure what he meant by the 'hidden plague,' but as far as cancer goes, he was unfortunately incorrect.

he certainly will be a bold man in that year who will venture to say a person is dead beyond hope of resuscitation.
No. Dead is still dead.

Overall he scored 5 out of 9. Not bad. Better than most 100-year forecasts.
Posted By: Alex | Date: Tue Jan 01, 2013 | Number of Comments: 11
Category: Utopias and Dystopias, Yesterday's Tomorrows
More weirdness from the WU archive:
Comments
Listed in chronological order. Newest comments at the end.
This is cool--makes me think of Bellamy's "Looking Backward", which also predicted an amazing number of technological developments correctly.
I think the "Hidden Plague" might be Tuberculosis which was also called Consumption. Any other suggestions?
Posted by AlexM in New Jersey on 01/01/13 at 07:56 AM
I'm going to argue with you on the last one.... Doctors routinely "kill" patients on the operating table to replace hearts! ER docs also do some shocking things to the recently dead.

I wonder if anyone could do as well, today, predicting 2113. Have we hit a plateau? Will advancements stagnate once again as they've done time and time before or are we till on an upward surge?

Good post Alex.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 01/01/13 at 09:51 AM
AlexM, I think e would have said "consumption". How about syphilis or gonorrhea?

Expat, I agree with you. What passed for dead 100 years ago is sometimes fixable these days. Certainly, the standard test of the time, lack of a pulse, is no longer sufficient proof of death by itself - these days, we sometimes use an EEG to test for brain death.
Posted by TheCannyScot in Atlanta, GA on 01/01/13 at 10:18 AM
The "netting over the rooftops" brought to mind the open baskets in balloons and windows in blimps. If, as he imagined, these LTA craft were in popular use then it is safe to to assume that the passengers would be throwing litter out the windows, dropping all manner of objects, and even advertisement pamphlets (this happens yet today).

BTW, Scottie.... I've been suffering from brain death for years now and, yet, I can still fool the machines.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 01/01/13 at 10:46 AM
He's only a little off on postmarks and stamps -- give it another ten years.

I'm reasonably certain the "hidden plague" was syphilis. It was of epidemic proportions, but it couldn't be discussed in polite company, and newspapers had to coin a euphemism for it. (I used to have a list of such things, but sadly, it went missing a few decades ago.)

I wouldn't consider the 'death' prediction completely void -- people dead from drowning, freezing, heart attacks, and many other things are routinely brought back to life. The standard for bodies pulled from cold water is: "they're not dead until they're warm and dead."
Posted by Phideaux in in my own little world on 01/01/13 at 11:42 AM
-- What passed for dead 100 years ago is sometimes fixable these days.

So if it's judged that he got the final prediction correct, his score rises to 6 out of 9. Even more impressive!
Posted by Alex on 01/01/13 at 11:47 AM
If you consider that aeoplanes didn't carry bombs in 1913 and you make;
Netting ~ Bomb shelter
He was 100% correct on the concept.
My prediction- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qixf_0utDig
Posted by BMN on 01/01/13 at 02:16 PM
i'd say he was correct about postage stamps, as in delivering message to another we can pretty much use email for that, as in, we dont need postage stamps for nonverbal communication over long distances. or heck even sms messages drive the same purpose. atleast we have choices.
Posted by cotmo on 01/01/13 at 05:17 PM
Actually, I'd count him correct on the stamps too. I can't remember the last time I received anything in my mail box with a stamp on it. Its all printed bulk-rate codes.
Now that I think about it, I've still got most of the last book of stamps I bought... three years ago!
Posted by Captain DaFt on 01/01/13 at 07:25 PM
6.5 out of 9, because we're good with curing "the hidden plague" if he did mean syphilis (which I agree is by far the most likely).
Posted by JMS on 01/02/13 at 01:09 AM
i think hes close on the last two- not sure if things like septicaemia and leukaemia were well understood in 1913, and cancer isnt the death sentence it was once was-
the interesting one is the last one. the limit between life and death has shifted since 1913- people communicate while in comas, hypothermia is treatable- even in this blog theres cases of "the dead" suddenly "waking up".
Posted by robot on 01/02/13 at 05:09 PM
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