Somebody is Missing

When I was a kid, it was always exciting to think about “the future” and all the cool advancements we’d have after the year 2000. We were promised many things, like flying cars, robots, teleportation, and fax machines in every room of our house. So where is it all? I know I’m not alone in feeling completely lied to by books and movies about what life would be like in 2012.

It’s weird to think about where we’d be technologically today if certain key people from the past had died before they invented amazing things. Like Nikola Tesla, who did amazing stuff with electricity and radio, almost died in a boat on his way to America. And he almost died as a kid of some disease. And his father hated the idea of him being an engineer and wanted him to become a priest instead. If any of those things had happened to Telsa, we might be living in a 1950’s-like world right now. Or we might just now be getting home computers and connecting them to AOL on our dialup modems. All because of one man.

What if Einstein had died as a kid? What would life be like for all of us? Sure, someone would have figured it all out eventually, but how long would it have taken? Would that drag us back another 20 years?

There must be hundreds of amazing minds from the past that died of disease or in wars or their parents forced them to work as a coal miner to support their family instead of learning about quantum mechanics and making mind boggling discoveries that completely change the course of the world. Somebody important died in the past 100 years before they got to show us how to get free energy and flying cars.

At this point in my life, I’m fairly certain that I will never see any truly amazing advances in science. If I live another 30 years, all I’m likely to see is a bunch of neat things like cooler phones and smaller computers and faster networks and a bunch of medical advancements. Which is all great, but I really doubt anything revolutionary is going to happen in my life. It sucks but it’s true. At least I got to see the internet happen and that was a really great thing to live through.

I bet if Doc Brown went 30 years into the future to see what 2015 was like, he’d think his time machine had malfunctioned. “WTF, this can’t be right. Everything is the same!”


  • I dunno, the internet is a pretty epic advance, and as far as i can tell noone really saw it coming, which makes it even more cool. Or at least those who did see it coming had NO Idea what it would be LIKE. Terminator talked about skynet, but no one predicted social media. the net is way better than a fax machine in every room.

    Flying cars were a stupid prediction. All they did was fly. they didn’t really do anything a regular car couldn’t do cheaper. Geesh can you imagine how ungreen a flying car society would be?

    But it would be cool to see a serious advance in artificial intellegence in our life time. That seems possible still.

    real space travel is coming, slowly slowly slowly; there isn’t a huge market for it yet…. but I still hope to make it to the moon or at least orbit in my time.

    The advance I really want to see is in genetic engineering or some other biological feild. We might yet see bionic people in our time. Theres some cool stuff going on in artificial limbs. It’d also be very cool, (and possible?) for us to ressurect Ige age critters or dinosaurs. Also, some large increases in life expectancy would be cool. And of course integrating the brain with computing hardware is still something id expect to see in our time.

    Rapid prototyping is also a very very cool feild with a lot of potential where real advances are being made all the time. My work bought us a 3d printer a couple years ago (you sketch up pretty much any shape using the right software, within a given envelope of space, and let the machine print for a few hours and wham, you get a lifesize 3d chunk of plastic of whatever you drew. its wicked cool.) and they are not uncommon at all now. Even schools have em. If this technology ever lives up to its full potential, it could make factories almost obsolete. when everyone has the ability to design and create, invent and perfect pretty much anything they want at home with a minimum of start up capital… It could do for the real world what the net did for the world of warcraft. It could be epic. It could do to the patent industry (everything!) what file sharing is doing to the music industry.

    Who knows when the SETI jackpot might pay off?(I’ve been rereading Contact)

  • I agree that we’re living in really awesome and exciting times and I can’t even imagine how boring life would be without the internet. It just seems like we should be a little further along than we are. I wish the aliens would just hurry up and tell us a bunch of awesome technology secrets to give us a little jump start.

    Is this your first time reading Contact? I like the movie a lot better than the book, but the book still has a lot of cool differences. Did you know Contact was supposed to be a trilogy but Carl Sagan died before that happened? That would have been great.

  • No ive read Contact alot. My parents gave it to me when I was 15 for christmas. So I have had the same copy of that book for over half my life. Both covers gone, but all the text is there. Plus some nostalgic graffitti that Renae applied in revenge for me vandaliszing some of her property, back in the day. Ah, good times!

    I liked the movie quite a bit too, but i like the book better. the movies is probably one of my all time favorites. Hard to imagine a trilogy though.

  • It does seem like computers is the only area where we have made significant advancement, I agree. i know we actually have made some huge strides in other areas science wise, but so far none of them have invaded our homes! What use to me is mapping the human genome really, untill we get serious about cloning for commercial use?

  • That’s really awesome that your parents gave you stuff like that when you were a teen. One huge life regret of mine is my choice of reading back then. I was a Stephen King fanatic just because I didn’t know any better. In 7th grade I decided I should probably stop reading Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary to reduce the chances of me getting beat up at school, so I latched on to Stephen King (I heard some girl in our class talking about him) and spent the next 10 years reading everything he wrote, sometimes several times. Not that he’s a bad author, but there’s so much good stuff that I didn’t read that I’m just discovering today. Like when I discovered Mark Twain in 2005 and Robert Heinlein 2 years ago. I’d never even heard of Douglas Adams until I was 19 or 20 when Chris Tomkinson talked me into reading him and I didn’t know Contact was based on a book until 3 years ago.

    It’s been great discovering all this amazing stuff recently, but it sure would have been nice to know about it all 20 years ago. Damn you for moving away and not keeping me on track.

  • You now what’s a weird advancement we haven’t made? BATTERIES. We’ve made all these crazy advances in computers and everything else, but batteries still seem stuck in the 50’s. Sure we have better rechargeable batteries now, but those last even less time than normal batteries in between charging. If batteries advanced as quickly as computers did, our phones would only need to be charged every few years.

  • Yeah, we have learned how to compress a ton of memory into a small space, now all we need is to learn how to compress a ton of energy into a small space. Then, if you throw your phone throw enough it could BLOW UP!

  • You need to add a new entry into your blog! Moar RBCP! NOW! :)

  • Please update you blog. I enjoy reading it. Since we are close to the same age, I can relate to some of the things you write about. Thanks!

  • Please update you blog. I enjoy reading it. Since we are close to the same age, I can relate to some of the things you write about. Thanks!

  • Steve L.K. Macrocranios

    I heard that there’s an author who wrote a classic book and he’s still alive and writing, but he doesn’t let anyone see anything he’s written since his book that earned him world renown. He keeps his brilliance to himself. This pisses some people off because they feel the world is being robbed of life enriching artistic contributions it somehow deserves for whatever indignant reason. I like the idea of gifted people deeming humanity unworthy of their contributions to humankind. People really suck. We deserve to miss whatever or whoever it is that’s missing.

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