Wednesday, January 30, 2013
30 January 2013
Christian Bale b. 1974
Gregory Benford b. 1941
(won 1981 Nebula for Timescape)
In the year 2000!
Prediction: Trains will run two miles a minute, normally; express trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour. To go from New York to San Francisco will take a day and a night by fast express. There will be cigar-shaped electric locomotives hauling long trains of cars. Cars will, like houses, be artificially cooled. Along the railroads there will be no smoke, no cinders, because coal will neither be carried nor burned. There will be no stops for water. Passengers will travel through hot or dusty country regions with windows down.
Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins in The Ladies' Home Journal, 1900
Reality: Most trains do not travel 120 mph. Express trains like the bullet train in Japan can go faster than 150, but the United States doesn't have a high speed train system in place, so New York to San Francisco by train takes a lot longer than 24 hours.
But after those first three sentences, Watkins gets everything right. Air conditioned trains, no coal used and no stops for water, sealed compartments safe from the elements. On lots of trains, passengers don't have the option of opening windows at all.
When you think that this guy lived in the era of steam trains and horse drawn carriages, his predictions are very good.
Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Arthur C. Clarke looks ahead from 1968 to the completion of the first moon base in 1994.
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!