5 People Who Actually Predicted the Future

  • March 10, 2010
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Robert A. Heinlein

Predicted: The answering machine and the waterbed, in 1942 and 1956 respectively

Together with Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein was one of the most famous science-fiction writers in the world. Interestingly enough, Heinlein, same as Clarke, also happened to be one of the few true prophets on Earth, meaning that he and his writer buddies were undoubtedly future-seeing aliens from another dimension.

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For example, in “Beyond this Horizon” (1942) Heinlein wrote about a futuristic robot-secretary message-recording telephone – essentially a modern answering machine, which was only first patented in Japan a whooping 41 years later. But that’s nothing compared to Heinlein’s depiction of the waterbed, as described in “Double Star” (1956) and “Stranger in a Strange Land” (1961). This device was not a simple background ornament boiling down to “a bed filled with water”. It was very thoroughly thought-through and described in great detail in the books. So much detail in fact, that in 1968 when Charles Hall tried to patent HIS waterbed—an actual real-life invention, mind you—he was turned-down because what he had built was virtually identical to Heinlein’s fictional contraption.

What’s really cool though is that Heinlein also foresaw a future where multiple sex-partners were a social norm. That’s something to look forward to.

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Morgan Robertson

Predicted: The sinking of the Titanic, in 1898

You know, there probably is a humorous way to begin this entry, but the 1898 novella “Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan” by American writer Morgan Robertson is just so damn freaky it’s impossible to write or talk about it without a feeling of dread in the deepest corners of your soul. The story freaking predicted the sinking of the RMS Titanic 14 years before it happened. In the novel:

- The Titan was the biggest ship in the world, at 800 feet long, dubbed the “unsinkable”. Now, there are of course some disparities here… The Titanic, for instance, measured something like 882 feet, which is an important difference, only not really.

- Both ships sunk on April in the Northern Atlantic after hitting an iceberg because their captains were a bunch of speed freaks.

- The ocean liners carried about 3000 passengers and both prepared too few lifeboats (~20 each). No info if any of Titan’s passengers stood at the head of the ship yelling something about being royalty of the entire planet though.

- Oh yeah, their names are virtually identical...

If you’re still not convinced that Robertson was some kind of psychic sorcerer, then definitely pick up his 1914 short story “Beyond the Spectrum”, about a sneak Japanese attack on the US somewhere near Hawaii and a new destructive American weapon characterized by a surge of blinding lights.

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Jesus Hell, that Nostradamus kid has NOTHING on Mr. Robertson. Quick, someone make-up a religion based on his books! We can all become stinking rich by getting on the ground floor of something big here, people!

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Written by Cezary Jan Strusiewicz – Copyrighted © www.weirdworm.com Image Sources

Image sources:

  • - William Gibson: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4b/Neuromancer_%28Book%29.jpg http://www.technovelgy.com/graphics/content06/black-ma-1.jpg
  • - Arthur C. Clarke : http://www.highspeedsat.com/images/satellites/geostationary/satellite.jpg http://www.futureistech.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/arthur-c-clarke.jpeg
  • - Jimmy Peterford : http://home.cogeco.ca/~djlanglois/images/NPLetter1.jpg http://www.jeffgothelf.com/journal/media/1/20080101-Smgboxartwii.jpg
  • - Robert A. Heinlein: http://www.telephonesonline.com.au/images/T/Audioline_TAM838_answering_machine.jpg http://www.horrordrive-in.com/uploaded_images/heinlein-762086.jpg
  • - Morgan Robertson: http://images.contentreserve.com/ImageType-100/0887-1/%7BB0116188-3017-40B7-A4F1-364615694A28%7DImg100.jpg http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/discus/messages/5671/95765.jpg