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Predictions for the year 2000

By worth in News
Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 06:44:42 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

Popular Mechanics has an old article from 1950 that describes their predictions for the year 2000. Of course, most of the predictions are not even close to what we now have and use today, but it's an interesting read. The article is available here.


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Predictions for the year 2000 | 31 comments (31 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Interesting, yes. But it's just a ... (1.50 / 2) (#7)
by dave0 on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 04:18:21 PM EST

dave0 voted -1 on this story.

Interesting, yes. But it's just a link.

Groovy! I love seeing stuff like th... (2.00 / 1) (#5)
by dlc on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 04:23:49 PM EST

dlc voted 1 on this story.

Groovy! I love seeing stuff like this. My grandfather left me a huge stack of Popular Mechanics and other magazines like it, and I used to get a huge kick out of reading them. I wonder if I have this issue anywhere...?

(darren)

so, when is this year 2000 thing go... (4.50 / 2) (#6)
by Raymond on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 04:34:27 PM EST

Raymond voted 1 on this story.

so, when is this year 2000 thing going to happen anyway...
----- Someone you trust is one of us...

Eh. Cute. ... (2.00 / 1) (#4)
by marlowe on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 05:20:32 PM EST

marlowe voted 1 on this story.

Eh. Cute.
-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --

Future predictions are always funny... (3.00 / 2) (#8)
by pb on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 05:20:59 PM EST

pb voted 1 on this story.

Future predictions are always funny. Less than half of these came true in some form or another, but the really important stuff is *never* predicted. Let that be a lesson to us.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall

Neat. It's interesting how some of ... (4.00 / 1) (#1)
by lachoy on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 05:26:23 PM EST

lachoy voted 1 on this story.

Neat. It's interesting how some of the things are right, but in the wrong way: things we use every day are disposable not because they can be dissolved easily, but because they're so cheap to make that it costs more to repair than to throw away and buy a new one.
M-x auto-bs-mode

Re: Neat. It's interesting how some of ... (4.00 / 1) (#11)
by Inoshiro on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 07:47:21 PM EST

Either way, the waste of resources shocks and dismays me. It'd be nice if people wouldn't strive for lazyness.

--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Re: Neat. It's interesting how some of ... (none / 0) (#20)
by CodeWright on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 08:53:46 AM EST

Laziness is what drives human progress.

People willing to continue "working hard" by doing things the same old (hard) way never seek to innovate. Lazy people, on the other hand, always want to make something just a bit easier.....

If it weren't for lazy people, then swinging in the trees and chewing on raw meat / bananas would have been sufficient for the human race.



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: Neat. It's interesting how some of ... (none / 0) (#22)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 11:41:45 AM EST

"If it weren't for lazy people, then swinging in the trees and chewing on raw
meat / bananas would have been sufficient for the human race."

Wait, I have to write that down.  That's how I can explain my inability to pick
up and fold clothes to my girlfriend.


[ Parent ]
Re: Neat. It's interesting how some of ... (none / 0) (#24)
by CodeWright on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 02:57:17 PM EST

<insert style="tongue in cheek"> That's right! You're just being efficient! </insert>



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
This could use more of a writeup. M... (3.00 / 1) (#2)
by Greener on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 05:49:47 PM EST

Greener voted -1 on this story.

This could use more of a writeup. Maybe a couple examples of the predictions and your thoughts on them.

It's amazing how much of the predictions were right on although I sure wouldn't want to write the punch cards required to make a Helicopter

While an interesting (if somewhat d... (2.00 / 1) (#3)
by evro on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 05:54:12 PM EST

evro voted 0 on this story.

While an interesting (if somewhat depressing) read, I don't think I can bring myself to send anybody to that page, one of the worst designed pages on a commercial site I've ever seen.
---
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"

Re: While an interesting (if somewhat d... (none / 0) (#18)
by skim123 on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 03:43:58 AM EST

While an interesting (if somewhat depressing) read, I don't think I can bring myself to send anybody to that page, one of the worst designed pages on a commercial site I've ever seen.

I agree wholeheartedly. Terrible design.

Prediction for the year 2050: by the year 2050, John Dobson will be creating graphically pleasing Web pages using a series of keystrokes and mouseclicks.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Ah, yes, the familiar ~1950 obsessi... (4.00 / 2) (#9)
by RobotSlave on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 06:16:23 PM EST

RobotSlave voted 1 on this story.

Ah, yes, the familiar ~1950 obsessions with energy production, personal air travel, and chemical engineering. No DNA and no transistor, of course, but at least they got an inkling of the computer through a fixation on automation.

Re: Ah, yes, the familiar ~1950 obsessi... (none / 0) (#25)
by YellowBook on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 03:30:05 PM EST

The thing that got me was the bit on shopping via television:

In fact, Jane Dobson does much of her shopping by television. Department stores obligingly hold up for her inspection bolts of fabric or show her new styles of clothing.

Buh? Jane Dobson (nice to see that the role of women in the household isn't expected to change by 2000) serves food like "deep frozen partially baked cuts of meat", and "even soup and milk are delivered in the form of frozen bricks," and she "throws soiled "linen" in the incinerator", and still buys bolts of fabric. For what? You have time to make your own clothes but not to cook dinner?



[ Parent ]
This is stupid, but. . . (2.00 / 1) (#12)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 10:54:55 PM EST

When I was in first or second grade there was a pretty popular joke going around. Somebody would, out of the blue, ask a kid, "What are you chewing under there?"

The almost involuntary response by somebody caught off-guard by the question would be: "Under where?"

I probably haven't thought of this joke since then until I read this line:

Discarded paper table "linen" and rayon underwear are bought by chemical factories to be converted into candy.

Stinking nostalgia.

Mike O.



a remarkable article (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by xah on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 10:56:29 PM EST

There are remarkably accurate predictions made in the article. Yet, for every accurate prediction, there is an absurd inaccuracy. I think listing all of these, from "electronic ovens" to male depilatories, is less interesting than talking about why they were wrong. (But if you can't figure out why this article is remarkable, read it again.)

At mid-century the service economy was rapidly replacing the industrial economy. This was totally missed by the author. See the early prominence given to "factories." It was this wrong guess that led to other misses, such as the lack of emphasis on the information age. While there are the references to vacuum tubes and "paper rolls" (compare to "punch-card" computers), the socio-cultural impact of computers is not understood.

Furthermore, the article takes on a capitalist slant. There is an implicit assumption in this futurism that politics is a game unworthy of mention, and that once we get over our personal problems we'll become productive, loyal citizens again, in rightful, perpetual service to the elite. Willful, blithe ignorance was responsible for the lack of predictions on this subject.

Lastly, many mistakes were made because of the general disregard for the Earth's ecology. Dissolving plastic dishes are absurd, as are atomic ocean liners, power plants in every factory, helicopters on every rooftop, and diverting hurricanes by spilling huge quantities of "oil" on the sea (on purpose!) and lighting it. Exxon Valdez anyone?

Re: a remarkable article (3.00 / 1) (#19)
by CodeWright on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 08:50:43 AM EST

What's wrong with atomic ocean liners? Most serious warships are atomic. The fueling procedures for ships of that size involve many toxic / careful-handling procedures ALREADY, just with petrofuels.

Dismissing atomic ocean liners just because of an inordinate aversion to the word "atomic" is akin to operating with blinders on.



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: a remarkable article (none / 0) (#26)
by xah on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 04:42:41 PM EST

Nice sig btw.

As the article correctly alluded to, the problem is the lack of efficiency of nuclear energy (or atomic energy which is still an accurate but now considered an old-fashioned term). As long as you don't use safety or enviro protocols, its terrifically efficient, of course. But the cost of clean-up afterward is typically high.

Nevetheless, as you point out, the (U.S.) military uses nuclear energy in many seagoing vessels, such as subs and aircraft carriers. The advantage here is the long durations between refuelings. Plus, the taxpayer picks up the tab so efficiency is not as significant as other considerations.

Nevertheless, you make a good point.

[ Parent ]

Re: a remarkable article (none / 0) (#28)
by CodeWright on Wed Apr 19, 2000 at 07:19:53 AM EST

RE: Sig -> Thanks! :) I plagarized it from 'fortune'.

The only reason that clean up of spent fuel rods is expensive in this country is because we don't use fast-breeder reactors like the French (the only ones the US has are used to create weapons grade plutonium). Fast-breeders can use and re-use low-grade fuels until their useful fissionable radioactivity is almost gone. Their final waste products have several orders of magnitude smaller half-lives, and lower energy fission processes (so they are relatively low-level waste disposal problems as opposed to plutonium waste).

Eco-freak outcry in the US has prevented the implementation of commercial fast breeders, which, if they replaced conventional reactors, would largely eliminate domestic commercial fissionable waste problems.

PS - I like your website, even though many of the links are dead, the ones that you have up are good. :)



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: a remarkable article (none / 0) (#32)
by xah on Thu Apr 20, 2000 at 10:44:29 PM EST

Thanks for the nice words about my web site. It's "under construction" without the "under construction" graphics. I'll have to do some research into fast breeder reactors.

[ Parent ]
Re: a remarkable article (none / 0) (#27)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Apr 19, 2000 at 07:18:53 AM EST

Dismissing atomic ocean liners just because of an inordinate aversion to the word "atomic" is akin to operating with blinders on.

Quite apart from the environmental issues, one of the things which is often overlooked is that the available reserves of fissile material are finite and scarce.

Even if we assume the use of fast breeder reactor cycles to convert fertile material such as thorium into plutonium, then on the assumption that we scrapped all of our fossil power plants and replaced them with fission reactors, we would run out of fissile material in ~650 years.

Some people would say - so what? By then we will have other types of energy production, such as fusion.

The point that many proponents of nuclear energy miss is that there are already a large range of renewable energy sources available ( solar, geothermal, etc ).

In this respect, I personally don't see that there is much point in wasting time on something which we already know is a "dead end technology" which has (arguably) more costs than benefits and that our long term interests are better served by spending our research dollars on long term solutions to our energy needs.

You might be strangling my chicken, but you don't want to know what I'm doing to your hampster.



[ Parent ]

Re: a remarkable article (none / 0) (#29)
by CodeWright on Wed Apr 19, 2000 at 01:54:22 PM EST

Even if we assume the use of fast breeder reactor cycles to convert fertile material such as thorium into plutonium, then on the assumption that we scrapped all of our fossil power plants and replaced them with fission reactors, we would run out of fissile material in ~650 years.

That assumption is only true if you make the assumption that humanity will be forever stuck on the planet Earth.

In fact, if there was widespread use of fission as a power source, NERVA style atomic pile rockets could provide an interplanetary infrastructure with travel times in weeks rather than months and years.

Atomic rocket infrastructure would open up the entire nickel/iron asteroid belt, plus the heavy metals of Mercury and Venus for exploitation.

Although the two planets listed would each only add another ~200-350 years of fissile materials each, that is still under the assumption of recovering surface (ie, crustal) deposits of fissiles -- the bulk of Earth's (and Venus/Mercury) fissiles rest deep in her core.

Mining the asteroids gives us all the bounty of planetary core levels of available fissiles with the ease of crustal extraction (actually, it's even easier, but that's a different discussion).

In effect, just the readily available fissionable materials in the solar system give us a good several millenia of power use.

Never mind the fact that there are 3 billion tons of recoverable Helium-3 on the lunar surface (with which we would be able to have nuclear FUSION with _today's_ technology), and we should be able to produce workable commercial deuterium fusion within a few millenia.

Saying we shouldn't use fissiles because they'll give out in 650 years is like saying that we shouldn't use fossil fuels because they'll give out in 200 years. The fact of the matter is that, unless we are using a nuclear process, the energy density of petrochemicals cannot be matched for their extraction price -- in other words, you get a lot of bang for your buck. Likewise with fissionable materials.

After addressing this issue as a side-discussion, I'm almost fired up enough to research and build an article submittal on it for k5! :P :)



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
Re: a remarkable article (none / 0) (#30)
by rusty on Wed Apr 19, 2000 at 02:11:39 PM EST

You seem to have done your research. I'd love to see an article. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: a remarkable article (none / 0) (#31)
by CodeWright on Wed Apr 19, 2000 at 02:26:08 PM EST

I'll get to work on it. Maybe I'll be able to submit it over the Easter weekend. :)



--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
I predict (1.00 / 1) (#14)
by kuroshin on Mon Apr 17, 2000 at 11:45:47 PM EST

that this post will be deleted.

secret message to kuro5hin:

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kur05h1n, why d0 y0u d3l373 p0575?

d0 y0u r34l1z3 7h47 d3l371ng p0575 ju57 3nc0ur4g35 h4x0r5 4nd 7r0113r5 70 p057 m0r3 "l1nux 455 57uff1ng" p0575?

Re: I predict (5.00 / 1) (#15)
by rusty on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 12:03:30 AM EST

I delete posts when they have no value. It's like love, I can't define it, but I know it when I see it. It's what's wrecked slashdot, and cmdrtaco's refusal to do anything is not the approach I want to take. So, feel free to test the boundaries and whatnot, and I hope eventually you get tired of it and decide to contribute to the site instead. I also emailed you and requested you direct any questions to me personally at rusty@kuro5hin.org. If you didn't see the email, I reiterate that request now. Please understand, this is not some sort of attack on "free speech" but merely an attempt to make this an inviting place for discussion, for the readers (which BTW includes you).

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: Predictions for the year 2000 (5.00 / 3) (#16)
by tpck on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 12:46:45 AM EST

Absolutely hilarious. I wonder how much true thought went into these predictions?

The predictions are depressing though too; they speak towards human nature. Emphasis is placed on consumer goods and industry. Here cheap, convinient and disposable are good. The environment somehow provides us unlimited raw materials and energy; we only have to figure out how to extract them. Mother Nature is also invulnerable. We can pour chemicals down the drain and shoot them into the air. She's tough, she can take it.

We are told that everything in the year 2000 is an order of magnitude better. Life practically lives itself and all of our needs are fulfilled. We live in suburban utopias thanks to the wonders of modern technology. "Tradition, conservatism, labor-union policies and legislation" only get in the way of this technological utopia. Human rights and the environment aren't even considered. There are no politics, no causes, no wars, no different systems of beliefs or ways of living. Everyone is homogenized into the capitalistic American way of doing things.

Popular Mechanics gets a few things right, mostly from luck. But where they do acurately predict the exact mechanics of how things will work in the year 2000, they do capture the spirit of our time. They understand how lazy, cheap, selfish, small-minded and greedy we are. They know that we WANT to be able to wash our dishes down the drain. That we don't WANT to spend money on things. That we WANT to be comfortable and secure -- no matter the consequences.

Re: Predictions for the year 2000 (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by Dacta on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 01:25:29 AM EST

I thought the most interesting thing was the attitude about women.

The "Jane can easily clean her house" kind of stuff - they had no idea, did they?

Also the "No one has flown a rocket ship around the moon, yet, but they don't laugh at the idea". Less than 20 years for that one to be proved wrong, and yet now their prediction would be correct - we can't go and fly around the moon any more, can we?

I was impressed at their idea of environmental crimes - they were pretty close with that, and they were close with the idea of disposable plates - of course they didn't think we'd be dumb enough to use stuff that wouldn't breakdown.

underwear candy (4.00 / 2) (#21)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 11:37:42 AM EST

"rayon underwear are bought by chemical factories to be converted into candy"

Ok, as I was reading some of the stuff was obviously off base.	But making
CANDY from UNDERWEAR?  What were they smoking back then?


The scary bit at the end: (4.70 / 3) (#23)
by error 404 on Tue Apr 18, 2000 at 12:21:15 PM EST

If old Mrs. Underwood, who lives around the corner from the Dobsons and who was born in 1920 insists on sleeping under an old-fashioned comforter instead of an aerogel blanket of glass puffed with air so that it is as light as thistledown she must expect people to talk about her "queerness." It is astonishing how easily the great majority of us fall into step with our neighbors. And after all, is the standardization of life to be deplored if we can have a house like Joe Dobson's, a standardized helicopter, luxurious standardized household appointments, and food that was out of the reach of any Roman emperor?

Um, I guess I don't have anything to add to that. Except that I hate fiberglass.

Scary how close the article gets on the general concepts. Shopping by television, for example. They didn't mention that the television is connected to a computer, but they did predict the shopping. Factory automation they got right, just not the storage media. The underwear-candy conversion - no wait, I'm not going there.

Where they miss, I think, is the human aspects. The house that could be hosed down is possible. Has been all along. But a house like that just not a very human place. The instant food is there, but again, not a full replacement. I can't see making a multi-course feast in a half hour, even though it is technicaly possible. A fast meal is one thing, but the elaborate meal of several courses has meaning that would be lost. If I'm going to make a serious meal, I'm going to do it right.
..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Predictions for the year 2000 | 31 comments (31 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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