Hundred Year Old Predictions For The Future Come True!

Ladies Home Journal

Predicting the future is usually difficult although an American engineer did a pretty good job when he wrote his predictions for the next hundred years way back in 1900. 

John Elfreth Watkins was a civil engineer working for American railroads of the 19th century. In 1900, he contributed an article to the Ladies’ Home Journal, entitled “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years”. Somehow, Watkins was able to foresee the invention of mobile phones, digital photography, television, and even TV dinners. 

Now, 112 years later, a history editor for the Journal’s sister publication, the Saturday Evening Post, dug out the article to see how Watkins did. The article made 28 predictions. Here are some of the more interesting ones he got right and wrong.

Correct Predictions:

– Digital color photography – Watkins didn’t know how it would happen, but wrote about color pictures being able to move around the world in minutes. “Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle inChina a hundred years hence, snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspaper an hour later…photographs will reproduce all of nature’s colors.”

– Mobile phones – He wrote that wireless telephone circuits will span the world even though it was 15 years prior to the first transcontinental call. “We will be able to telephone toChina quite as readily as we now talk fromNew York toBrooklyn.”

– Pre-made meals – He wrote people would purchase ready-to-eat meals from establishments similar to bakeries. “They (the store) will purchase materials in tremendous wholesale quantities and sell the cooked foods at a price much lower than the cost of individual cooking.” He also said these meals would be made in laboratories as opposed to kitchens.

– Television – He foresaw cameras and screens connected by electric circuits that allow people to see events on the other side of the world. “Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at span.

– Central heating and air conditioning
 – The great minds he spoke with talked about how a device would regulate the temperature in a house.

The article also correctly predicted “huge forts on wheels”, what we know as tanks, that the population growth will slow, people would get taller and high-speed trains would exist.

What He Got Wrong:

– Free university – “A university education will be free to every man and woman.” While more people are able to attend university, the costs continue to rise forcing many to take on huge debt.

– Fitness levels – “Everybody will walk ten miles…A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling.” Watkins wrote exercise would be compulsory in schools, but while it is mandatory to a certain age, obesity levels continue to rise in theU.S. andCanada.

– Mosquitoes terminated – “Mosquitoes, house-flies and roaches will have been practically exterminated.” He thought this would happen because all the breeding grounds, including stagnant pools and swamp lands would be gone.

– Fewer letters – “There will be no C, X, or Q in our every-day alphabet.” He thought those letters would eventually become unnecessary and spelling by sound would be adopted.

It’s downright impressive how many of these predictions have actually come to pass in the 112 years since the column was written. It almost makes you wonder if the days of C, X, and Q being part of the English alphabet are numbered. 

Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs of 2011

From law-violating subatomic particles to entirely new, earth-like worlds, 2011 was an incredible year for scientific discovery. In the past 12 months, scientific breakthroughs in fields ranging from archaeology to structural biochemistry have allowed humanity to rewrite history, and enabled us to open to brand new chapters in our development as a species.

Here are some of our favorites.



The world’s lowest density material

With a density of less than one milligram per cubic centimeter (that’s about 1000 times less dense than water), this surprisingly squishy material is so light-weight, it can rest on the seed heads of a dandelion, and is lighter than even the lowest-density aerogels. The secret — to both its negligible weight and its resiliency — is the material’s lattice-like structural organization, one that the researchers who created it liken to that of the Eiffel Tower.


“Feeling” objects with a brain implant

It could be the first step towards truly immersive virtual reality, one where you can actually feel the computer-generated world around you. An international team of neuroengineers has developed a brain-machine interface that’s bi-directional — that means you could soon use a brain implant not only to control a virtual hand, but to receive feedback that tricks your brain into “feeling” the texture of a virtual object.

Already demonstrated successfully in primates, the interface could soon allow humans to use next-generation prosthetic limbs (or even robotic exoskeletons) to actually feel objects in the real world.


Astronomers get their first good look at giant asteroid Vesta

In July of 2011, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft entered the orbit of Vesta — the second largest body in our solar system’s main asteroid belt. Just a few days later, Dawn spiraled down into orbit. Upon reaching an altitude of approximately 1700 miles, the spacecraft began snapping pictures of the protoplanet’s surface, revealing geophysical oddities like the triplet of craters on Vesta’s northern hemisphere — nicknamed “Snowman” — featured here. Dawn recently maneuvered into its closest orbit (at an altitude averaging just 130 miles). It will continue orbiting Vesta until July of 2012, when it will set a course for Ceres, the largest of the main belt asteroids.

NASA’s Kepler Mission changes how we see ourselves in the Universe

2011 was a fantastic year for NASA’s Kepler Mission, which is charged with discovering Earth-like planets in the so-called “habitable zone” of stars in the Milky Way. Kepler scientists announced the discovery of the first circumbinary planet (i.e. a planet with two suns, just like Tatooine); located the first two known Earth-sized exoplanets; quadrupled the number of worlds known to exist beyond our solar system; and spied Kepler-22b — the most Earth-like planet we’ve encountered yet. And here’s the really exciting bit: Kepler is just getting warmed up.


Heartbeat-powered nanogenerators could soon replace batteries

In a few years, you may never have to recharge your phone again — provided part of you keeps moving. Back in March, scientists announced the world’s first viable “nanogenerator” — a tiny computer chip that gets its power from body movements like snapping fingers or – eventually – your heartbeat.

The researchers can already use the technology to power a liquid crystal display and an LED, and claim that their technology could replace batteries for small devices like MP3 players and mobile phones within a few years.


Discover More Top Scientific Discoveries of 2011 on