Saturday, January 2, 2010

Back to the future

This time of year everybody focuses on the new year and the hopes and dreams of what's ahead. That got me to wondering where we might be in say 500 or 1000 years from now. That is of course if we make it that far and don't totally destroy the planet. So I wondered what was going on 1000 years ago. Much to my surprise many things were just getting started in the 11th century. Medicine was just beginning with the invention of the hypodermic needle. It was first used to remove cataracts. Oooh I'll bet that hurt like a bugger considering anesthesia had not come around until the 19th century. There was also advancements in metalurgy, geometry, astronomy (although they still thought the earth was at the center of our solar system). They may have dreamed about flying into space but it would not be until 1960s when the technology caught up to the dream.
Where are we now then? I think we're at the beginning of a new beginning. Medicine is just starting to see the work of much research into bioengineering, stem cell advances and nano drugs. Just saw a program the other night where researchers were growing body parts such as ears and heart valves. Then there's something they nick named "pixie dust" a solution that regrows tissue. That was something an Iraq war vet was very glad they came up with as they didn't need to amputate his leg. The newest aircraft in Boeing's line up the 787 is made from carbon fiber materials stronger than steel. But I think there will be far stranger things coming that we'll have a hard time wrapping our minds around at least by present standards.
What do I see for the immediate future? Pay close attention to water,energy, and food. Water prices will go up meaning washers will be designed to use only a few gallons. Toilets will use almost no water. A shower will be more of a mist than a shower. Eventually somebody will get smart enough to put your household electricity on a computer program that will shut off power to all appliances that sit there on standby wasting power. Window films will produce power during the day and illuminate your home when the sun goes down. There'll be a slow move away from oil consumption as the supply dwindles. That will lead the way for the cars that run on vegetable oil, air or electricity from renewable sources. Foods such as beef chicken pork and fish will be produced in factory labs with no waste. No bones or manure to deal with either.
Much of this is already in the pipeline of technology and we should be seeing some of this in the next few years.


S.W. Anderson said...

Very interesting. I think for motive power, we're going to have to have either hydrogen fuel cell technology or miniaturized nuclear power. Eventually, I think vehicles will have snap-in power units of some kind. They will run for several years without any kind of maintenance, then be replaced. Along the same lines, I think that rather than having a sedan and an SUV or pickup, a good many people will own reconfigurable, modular vehicles. The reason is that the way we do things now, having separate vehicles for this and that, and junking them after just a few years because of the combination of being nickle-and-dimed to death by repair costs creeping up and up after a few years is all just too inefficient and wasteful.

I think in medicine cancer will be eliminated as a major killer within the next 50 years. Maybe much sooner. I think advances will allow deaf and blind to hear and see. But I think the common cold will remain a bane of human existence for the indefinite future, not because science will be incapable of preventing or stopping a cold. It will be because wiping colds out in communities of people where the virus continually mutates is just too complicated and expensive to be practical.

Roger Owen Green said...

I have no idea.
Sometimes I think nobody has any idea about the future, especially the next 20-50 years, let alone beyond that.
I have always been fascinated by the 1939 World's fair, which promised so much. and actually did deliver quite a bit, though those Jetsons cars, not so much.

Holte Ender said...

The future has always held a fascination for mankind, and things are moving faster than ever, 15 years ago, we wouldn't have been communicating like this. The 20th century went from no airplanes in 1900 to space travel and skies full of jets a 100 years later. We could all write a 10,000 essay on what's going to change in the next 20 years and we would all have a different view and maybe we would all be right.

NorthCountryLiberal said...

When I watched the Jetsons I was optomism primed by listening to the beep of sputnik and JFK challenge us to get to the moon. Now, I am sour and pessimistic after decades of watching greed for money and power degrade the environment and create a hedonistic culture of consumerism that is fed by the rape of the environment and waste of natural resources. We are making our choices in favor of two cars in the driveway of 3,000 Sq Ft dwellings in Arizona with air conditioning and swimming pools and fresh lobster tails flown in from Maine, and teh only way to get anyones attention is to have a blackberry black-out for a few minutes.
Maybe, just maybe, the real levelor that brings mankind back to sanity will be the struggle of those left after the Water Wars.
Hey, I think I have an opening of a Sci-Fi screen play here.

Bustednuckles said...

They can keep the engineered food. When I want a T Bone, the bone is kinda important, same with a good pork chop fried to a crisp!

In our lifetimes, we have seen a man on the moon, artificial hearts, eyes and hearing advances that would blow your mind if you suddenly showed up from 1950 alone.
I have no doubts that we are on the verge of some mind blowing advances in the near future.

an average patriot said...

Did you ever read the science fiction book "the forever war" That came out in the early 70's I think but much of it is coming true now and people could learn from it.

They were in a planetary war but they regenerated body parts and the whole works. They fought for so long they forgot why and stopped etc. Excellent book!

BBC said...

Toilets will use almost no water. A shower will be more of a mist than a shower.

Well, I use a porta pottie and they use almost no water other than a flush once a week at the marina. But I do use a garden spray bottle to clean the bowl with and it uses very little water to clean it.

And I take bowl baths, just like in the old days, using about two quarts of water.

Not that I don't love a good shower, I do, but I haven't gotten around to making one that keeps recycling the same gallon of water through filters. Maybe this year, if I'm not too busy camping.

I find it interesting that they are getting so good at keeping monkeys alive when in fact it would be better for the planet for a lot of them to die off.

Well, maybe that is what wars and monkeymobiles are for, to help keep the populations down.

BBC said...

They were in a planetary war

There isn't any life on any other planets to get in wars with. Any future wars here or in space will be with monkeys here and from here.

The Blog Fodder said...

The last millennium belonged to Europe and (European settled) North America. When we look back in the year 3000 we will see that the third millennium belonged to China. The intervening 1000 years will NOT have been pretty.

Randal Graves said...

I think we'll all be dead. At least I'll be dead by then.

1.21 gigawatts!

an average patriot said...

I was watching that new building in Dubai that is now the worlds tallest and the vista looked like this picture.

Anonymous said...