Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Some Inventions Don't Always Pan Out As Anticipated

"The future isn't what it used to be." ~ Arthur C. Clarke

Popular Mechanics magazine is now more than 110 years old. The publication was launched in 1902 when the 20th Century was emerging as the most remarkable era in human history. Idealism ran rampant and creative minds conceived the most amazing designs.

Articles about what the future would be like have been a recurring feature of this forward-looking magazine. And now, with more than a century of material to sift through, the editors of Popular Mechanics have published a book featuring many of these contraptions and ideas in a book titled The Wonderful Future That Never Was.

There were people who thought we'd live in houses with furniture you cleaned with a hose. Or that our cars would fly (1928, 1943) or ride about on a cushion of air as Jeanne Dixon predicted in 1966. One of the stories is about Louis Brennan's monorail car that would ride atop a cable and stay balanced by means of gyroscopes.

Many stories were written about what cities of the future would look like, from taller skyscrapers to underground cities built layer upon layer. Hopefully you don't mind a house with no windows or landscapes to manicure. As for food, what do you think about the idea of eating synthetic food made from coal? It was proposed and written about. Yum!

The good part about the world of inventors is that they often continue to dream in spite of all odds. How the internet came to pass, or microprocessors and the variety of expressions of invention that we take for granted, is a mystery we seldom think deeply about. Fortunately we don't have to understand organic synthesis or compression ratios to drive a car to the grocery store.

For the fun of it, here's an invention that may never come to pass, but you'll enjoy the inventor's enthusiasm for his product, the Chrysler Turbo Encabulator.

On the other hand, some dreams really do come true. You can read about the AMSOIL story here.

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