Wednesday, January 16, 2013
16 January 2013
Prediction: 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.
Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins in The Ladies' Home Journal, published 1900
Reality: Baby toys include pull-up bars. Schools always have gyms, though not all cities have public gyms, there are lots of public parks for basketball, tennis, handball, softball, baseball and soccer. I don't know if the ten mile walk is the standard measure of "non weakling-hood". Depending on whether you walk quickly or slowly, that's at least two and a half hours and maybe more like four. It's more a question of "Who has the time?" than it is "Who has the strength?"
Watkins suffered an accident in his early twenties, leaving him only fit for office work and died in his early fifties in 1903. There were many advocates of healthy lifestyles at the turn of the century, John Harvey Kellogg and Theodore Roosevelt to name just two, but the fact that the average life expectancy has effectively doubled in 100 years can be attributed more to miracles of modern medicine, notably the eradication of tuberculosis and polio and the taming of influenza as a mass killer, than it can to push-ups and jumping jacks.
Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Our pal Arthur C. Clarke returns with two predictions from his 1968 work 2001: A Space Odyssey that are right on the money.
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!