Friday, February 02, 2007

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899

When I think of incorrect predictions, the one above is always the first that comes to my mind. It simply amazes me that people can make statements without the foresight to at least consider the possibility of man’s ingenuity. To this day, people still make predictions that I believe may very well come to pass.

“Yes,” I believe that man will one day discover intelligent life on other planets (okay, now that I have lost all credibility with fellow bloggers!). “Yes, I believe that teleportation will one day be a reality (Oh no! Now people are really going to dismiss me as a crackpot!”) The point that I am trying to make here is that we never know what man will one day turn into a reality so why be dismissive but instead allow our minds to go free to explore and consider all possibilities.

Throughout history, people have been making predictions. When Christopher Columbus decided to set sail in search of new lands, the Spanish Royal Commission, rejecting Christopher Columbus' proposal to sail west said that “So many centuries after the Creation, it is unlikely that anyone could find hitherto unknown lands of any value." On a more recent note, former U.S. President Cleveland, predicted that “There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.”

Below is a number of other predictions that, since made, have proven to be incorrect.

"You're planning to make a ship sail against wind and tide by lighting a fire below deck?? I don't have time to listen to that kind of nonsense!"
Napoleon, about Robert Fultons plans to make a Steamboat.

"I believe in the horse. The automobile is merely a passing phenomonon."
Emperor Wilhelm II

"Airplanes suffers from so many technical faults that it is only a matter of time before any reasonable man realizes that they are useless!"
Scientific American (1910)

"That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced." – Scientific American, January 2, 1909.

"Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons." – Popular Mechanics, March 1949.

"We can close the books on infectious diseases." – Surgeon General of the United States William H. Stewart, 1969; speaking to the U.S. Congress

"Democracy will be dead by 1950." – John Langdon-Davies, A Short History of The Future, 1936.

"Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia." – Dr Dionysius Lardner (1793-1859), professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, University College London.

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." – A memo at Western Union, 1878 (or 1876).

So there you have it! Just a few of the predictions that have been proven incorrect over time. Now if inventors were to listen to these naysayers, where would our society be today? If the people responsible for the advent of the Internet shared the attitudes of Western Union, Popular Mechanics, Scientific American as well as other organizations and individuals, you would not be reading this post right now… So, the next time somebody says that it can’t be done, remind them of all the predictions that have been proven incorrect.

Okay, now that that has been said, I am going to prepare for the end of the world which I hear is supposed to be happening in about one week! That's what I hear the word on the street is!

Live long and prosper!


whimsicalnbrainpan said...

The problem is that those people had no imagination. Think about what has been imagined and then accomplished: DaVinci and the helicopter, Jules Verne and the submarine, H.G. Wells accurately perdicted how long it would take man to reach the moon decades before we actually did it. As long as man continues to use his imagination there will be new things to marvel over.

hammer said...

Didn't Bill Gates once say that nobody will ever need more than 256k of ram for their computer?

My money is on alien teleportation.

Jocelyn said...

I try to never speak in absolutes, lest I get caught out in the end!

Good list.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks for this wonderful post. I am duly inspired to preservere through all the laughter and mocking and invent the paw-sized nut teleporter. Storing nuts for winter will never be the same again.

Wendz said...

Only one week left? But I'm not readeeeeee.....

I loved the trains prediction....die of asphyxiation...ha ha ha ha...classic!

Robyn said...

Bill Gates did make that prediction, and I am struggling to keep my 4g working properly. We think we're so advanced, but we have no idea what is just around the corner. We also have no idea what we can accomplish before hand. Your list of historical "predictions" and poo-pooing puts things into perspective.

Sunil Parmar said...

Hello Dave!
That was very informative! :)

It's winter going on at my place....:)

Take Care.

Jazz said...

LOL I love these.

Famous last words, eh?

Becky Wolfe said...

Gotta love how poorly we can judge ourselves and our future generations capabilities. (I can't live without my cell phone or internet or laptop - I can't wait to see what's next)

Funny you should mention 'life on other planets'. Hubby & I were chatting about 'deep stuff' on Sunday and wondering what else is out there, not out of fear or comparison, just more out of 'its a really big universe that we know SO little about so why not create some cool stuff on an extra planet or two beyond our knowledge capabilities at the moment'. Who knows what man will come up with in the future for Deep Space exploration.

Frankly, I'd like to see a little more effort put in 'under the sea' exploration. We're so eager to know what's beyond our planet & yet so little is known what's beneathe our waters. Where is Leviathan anyways?!

Bernie said...

Let us not discount the replicator and the holodeck. I believe (hope and pray) that those will some day exist.

Josie said...

Dave, great post. I believe one day folks will discover how to time travel. I think the answer to it is quite logical, we just haven't discovered it yet.

So, see? I'm a crackpot too :-)


P.S. How's Sweetie?

Dave said...

Hi whimsicalnbrainpan! The science fiction writiers and other movers and shakers of our days gone by ... Where would we be without them!

Hi Hammer!... Yes, as a matter of fact, he did say that! :-)

Hi Jocelyn!...And who wants to be in THAT positon right? LOL :-)

Hi LGS!... Don't worry LGS, your nut teleporter is nutting to scoff at. People may think you nuts but from one nutty professer to a nutter keep on plugging away at it! :-) (Oh brother! I should quit while I'm ahead!)

Hi Wendz!!... I talked to the doomsday predictor... He's going to give you an extra week to prepare! :-)

Hi Robyn!... You are so right when you say that we don't know what's around the corner! It's exciting to wait and see. :-)

Sunil!...Stay warm! You think it's cold there??? You should come over here!!! LOL I swear I am living in my refrigerator!

Hi Jazz! You got that one right! :-)

Hi Becky!...And I thought that I was the only one who thought that talking about extraterrestrial life was deep! Sometimes we can be so arrogant to think that we are the ONLY intelligent life out there! Leviathin??? Didn't noah have something to do with their eradication?? ;-) You are right, under the sea exploration should be more predominent...

Hi Bernie!... Holodeck WOULD be great! Make myself a duplicate and send it to work for me! :-)

Hi Josie!... Crackpot? Naw! Though I do believe time travel might be possible...I'm not a crackpot either! :-)

Anonymous said...

The movie about Microsoft and Apple called "pirates of silicone valley" had a scene where Bill is trying to sell the idea of a computer mouse to some marketing guy at xerox (I think) and he says "you want me to market something called a "mouse" "

I wonder where he ended up working after that?

Dave said...

Trish... NOT at Microsoft! :-)

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janice said...

Such a good post Dave! Thank goodness for people like the Wright Brothers, for example, who doggedly focussed on their belief that airplanes would some day be an international means of travel. The creative ability of mankind is restricted only by the narrowness of his thoughts.

Beth said...

I will certainly not dismiss you as a crackpot - I dream of the day teleportation becomes a reality.
Fascinating post. Lots of research - and thought-provoking.

Tai said...

"That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced."

Well, interestingly, I happen to agree with most of that. Vehicles are still, basically, the same as they were when they were first invented.
4 wheels, an engine of one type or another, steering mechanism and brakes.
It's how our society has evolved around them that's changed so much, I think.

All the rest of those are great, I can't wait to teleport!

(Didn't Einstein say imagination was more important than knowledge?)

Josie said...

Dave, I missed your last post, and I just wanted to say that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the little painting your daughter did. It's WONDERFUL...! Picasso said all artists should remember to paint like children.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you! I'm the #1 cheerleader for the creation of "Holodecks" as seen on Star Trek. As the gaming consoles become more sophisticated then we should be able to combine it with "green screen" technology and make a holodeck. Establishing the "environment" is the first logical step, then we can work on interacting with the A.I. later.
I'm so excited I could pee!

RICH said...

great post. It's very interesting to read those incorrect predictions. I'm sure lots are being made as we speak um I mean blog.

Cheryl said...

I can't wait to see what's ahead.

Em said...

Thank goodness no one said that all the blogs that need to be written have already been written. I like the option of more good things to come!

Dave said...

Hi Janice!... "The creative ability of mankind is restricted only by the narrowness of his thoughts.. Great words! I am going to use them down the road.. I will of course give you cedit! :-)

Hi Beth!... You won't dismiss me as a crackpot??? Hmmm does that mean that you are calling me a crackpot??? Hmmm! LOL Hey, I have been called worse. Didn't they call many "shakers" of ideas and thought crackpots...Not that I am a shaker of ideas! :-) I'm just giving you a hard time! :-) Take care!

Hi Tai!... You do have a point however, look at the DeLorean in the movie Back to the Future! Flying cars ... Now there's a possibilty!

Thanks Josie! for that comment about my daughter's painting. Interesting that you should word it that way... My daughter once told me that I paint like a kid!!!! Grrrrr! :-)

Hi Proxima!... Now here's someone with ideas! Let me know when you start up your holodeck business... I will be in the front of the line buying shares! :-)

Hi Rich!...Nice to meet you! I think there will always be people making incorrect predictions... We all just need to keep an open mind. Take Care!

Cheryl... You and me both! I find myself quite impatient however. :-)

Hi em!... I never thought of it in that way but you are quite correct! :-) Take Care!