Saturday, August 15, 2009

The World of Tomorrow, circa 2009 A.D.

I was struck by what was no longer present in the "Tomorrowland" area of Disneyland. The area was originally set up to be a World's Fair-type exhibit of what was coming in the future. Rockets, and home atomic power, picture phones, etc. None of that exists anymore in "Tomorrowland", and I would argue those monuments of innovation are absent from our social landscape as well. True, we've created the computer revolution, and computers changed everything. Yes, I said everything. The folks who were trying to imagine the future 50 years ago couldn't possibly imagine how cheap, small, and increasingly powerful computers would change human communication and learning, medical science, home entertainment, and the conduct of business. In the last 20 or so years our government, and our society has (IMHO) lost the capacity to dream about What Comes Next. You would be forgiven for smirking at the concept of an atomic-powered car as it was originally envisioned 50 years ago, but we have re-thought that problem of cheap, safe, and plentiful sustainable energy sources, and we did so going back 20 years ago, when Fleischman and Pons announced their cold fusion research.. Thankfully, a hanbdful of researchers didn't give up on the prospect of a cheap, safe, sustainable energy source. Who would've thought 20 years ago that we'd be in such dire need of a breakthrough like this 20 years ago, when the scientific community was busy running Fleischman and Pons out of town on a rail?

My point is this... Nobody thought it was crazy to dream of all the wild stuff we used to come up with in these bygone World's Fair "The Land Of Tomorrow" exhibits. Is a concept like cold fusion any more ridiculous?

This video from CBS news explains a current re-evaluation of research which was roundly discredited 20 years ago.

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