By Doug Kelly
I’m sure you’ve heard of Nostradamus, the French astrologer whose 1555 book Les Propheties predicted future events. Some say his doom-and-gloom prophecies reflect a special clairvoyance while others believe they’re merely imaginative speculations. Most likely his ability combined liberal doses of inspiration and ingenuity – and possibly a skosh of insanity (which is, of course, the cousin of genius).
It’s likely that out of nearly 1,000 poetic quatrains (four-line versus containing his prophecies) written by the famous Frenchman, some of them would inevitably resemble actual events. But no matter the judgment of his character or veracity, Nostradamus set the standard for soothsayers for the next 500-plus years and counting.
Sometimes science fiction precedes reality. The 19th century produced great novelists such as Jules Verne, whose timeless tomes include 2000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in 80 Days. While we haven’t burrowed to the Earth’s core yet, we’ve indeed ventured to the bottom of the deepest oceans – and circling the globe in only 80 days would be slow motion nowadays.
The novel that captures my imagination most is H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, published in 1895. Time travel totally messes with my mind, and if you’ve read this far it’s likely you feel the same.
Let’s turn the clock back two centuries to 1821. It would find us with no radio, TV, cars, aircraft, phones, supermarkets, fast food chains, shopping malls, toilets, running water, lights, hospitals, home appliances, etc. In most modern societies we live better, eat better and smell better – bravo for that.
But let’s skip forward two centuries, which in the scope of time doesn’t even represent a fraction of a grain of sand in our history’s hourglass. While I don’t claim the clairvoyance of Nostradamus or the novelistic brilliance of Jules Verne, over the years I’ve dedicated more than casual thought to future advances. As such, humor me as I announce (drum roll, please) predictions for what it will be like by the year 2221:
· We will crack the codes of communication with animals. We’ll be able to talk with everything from elephants to ants, including all forms of life that walks, hops, swims, flies, crawls or slithers. It will create a new world of comprehension along with a slew of challenges involving representation and protective rights. But here’s the kicker: We’ll also be able to decipher plant languages.
· A means of travel will be discovered based on the previously fictional depictions of breaking down matter so that it can be transported and reconstructed at another destination (fans of The Fly will appreciate this one). Also, the theory will be proven that time reverses as the speed of light is exceeded, meaning space travelers will exponentially return younger than when they departed.
· Based on newly discovered laws of physics, we won’t devise a time machine in the vision of H.G. Wells. However, we will unlock the ability of time travel to the past, which will result in a contentious controversy of whether to tamper with history. The decision will be to do so sparingly, but that will get out of hand and result in disasters. It will rewrite Earth’s history of wars, famines, assassinations and mass murders, the ramifications of which will be cataclysmic.
· Transportation will evolve from Individual Flying Units as already being developed to mastering reverse magnetism and the dynamics of exceeding the speed of light. Besides accessing anywhere in our world in seconds, we will travel outside our solar system and connect with life on other planets – including some more primitive than Earth and others more advanced.
· Humans will control all portions of the brain and greatly enhance senses of smell, touch, sight, hearing and touch. Unprecedented levels of comprehension and behavioral control will be achieved including photographic memories and instant learning of any topic or language. Mental illnesses will be a thing of the past. The pathways to mental telepathy and telekinesis will be carved.
· Despite great initial societal opposition, human cloning will allow choosing all aspects of children as if ordering off a DNA menu. Babies will be delivered in special home apparatus; sexual relationships (see following prediction) and natural births will be optional.
· Cybernation will entail the fulfillment of all human needs robotically. That includes farming, production and delivery of all consumer goods. One will be able to choose a lifelike robotic companion of any appearance and sexual persuasion.
· Virtual reality will provide limitless entertainment, allowing people to star in their own movies, win any athletic event and create a presence in whatever fantasies desired. Many people will choose to dwell entirely in their dream worlds. Actual sporting events will cease to exist along with movies, television, radio, plays, etc. All the books, magazines and articles ever published will be available in one easily accessible electronic form.
· Medical breakthroughs will eliminate all diseases in humans and animals. Optimum nutrition will be discovered to satisfy tastebuds while eliminating obesity and providing muscle tone without the need to exercise. Breakthroughs will include retarding cellular mortality and lifespans will triple, requiring colonization of planets similar to Earth. There will be no need for hospitals or physicians.
· We will barely survive a nuclear war in the latter half of the 21st century that dramatically consolidates boundaries. After decades of recovery it will result in only four worldwide countries. Our world powers will form a strategic alliance with other advanced planets to dissuade interplanetary wars and to set policy on influencing less-developed planets.
· The proof of life after death will alter everyone’s belief in religion and eternal life, proving that what Roman General Maximus proclaimed in the second century AD rings true: “What we do in life echoes in eternity.”
History has taught us that empires rise and fall, so it’s fateful that the United States will eventually lose the status of being the world’s superpower. But that may be moot: Nostradamus prophesized that an asteroid would one day destroy all civilization. Whether that occurs is also moot – we live in present times, and we therefore can only play the cards we’re dealt. In light of that, let’s dismiss cynicism and live life like there’s no tomorrow.