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Entries in jules verne (4)


History of Spaceflight


Work Days of Two Hours (1923)

Today's section of the February 12, 1923 article, "Thinking Men and Women Predict Problems of World Century Hence," was written by engineer Walter N. Polakov and predicts a future workday of just two hours.

The engineer lives and works for tomorrow; today is but a stepping stone. The dreams of engineers - Frontinus, Da Vinci, Jules Verne, Prof. Bethelot and others - came true; water power is converted in non-substantial form, flying is a reality, submarines and heavier-than-air ships are here, synthetic food and artificial rendering of barren soil into fertile gardens are no longer dreams and ideals. Indeed, the engineers are warranted to dream; nay, more, without the dreams, without ideas beyond immediate reach, the engineers are merely gravediggers.

The problems of 100 years hence will flow from the solutions of problems of today. What are they? There is but one engineering problem today, around which all others hinge: physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual welfare of man. Nothing else matter; everything else in the field of engineering is either contributing or damaging the attainment of this goal of engineering.

Nineteenth century was chained to matter; twentieth century is one of emancipation from matter and of direct control of energy devoid of bulk. This gives us a starting point.

By 2022 we shall be free from pounds of space. Thus, miles, acres, dollars will be terms the meaning of which would be looked up in dictionaries. The units in general use will be second, measures of time, energy and life. Petroleum and coal will nearly be exhausted and means will be [unreadable] to utilize directly the radioactive energy of solar rays. This will not be conducted by cables and wires but secured at the place of its utilization, much as radiograms are received today. Aerial transportation will be revolutionized as air ships need not carry the bulk of power-generating materials and equipment - it will be supplied in transit, and mode of motion will be that of gliding through attraction, with gravitation compensated.

Work will gradually become more and more mental and less physical; hours of work that 100 years ago were sixteen per day and today eight, in 2022 will be not over two hours a day because of the advance in technique. Considerable leisure created by highly specialized experts will call for regenerative recreation and play thus compensating for narrow specialization by broadest development of human personalities in all directions without the tint and sting of mercenarism.

See also:
Thinking Men and Women Predict Problems of World Century Hence (1923)
Pictures Stately Edifices (1923)
Thinks We'll Do Our Reading on Screen (1923)


Going to the Opera in the Year 2000 (1882)

This lithograph from 1882 depicts the fanciful world of 2000; flying buses, towering restaurants, and of course, 1880's French attire. Albert Robida is less well-known than Jules Verne but contributed just as much to the collective imagination through his amazing illustrations.

If you speak French I recommend picking up the Robida book La vie électrique. For the record, I don't speak French. Much like a child, I got it for the pictures.

(UPDATE: Some very good questions have been raised about the date of production for this lithograph. The year 1882 came from a Library of Congress source. La Vie Electrique (published 1892) contains structures that look similar to the Eiffel Tower but are in fact lighthouses. However, I am definitely open to the idea that "circa 1900" would be a more appropriate label.)

See also:
Postcards Show the Year 2000 (circa 1900)
Collier's Illustrated Future of 2001 (1901)
Predictions of a 14-Year-Old (Milwaukee Excelsior, 1901)
The Next Hundred Years (Milwaukee Herold und Seebote, 1901)
What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years (Ladies Home Journal, 1900)


Hello and Welcome

I first came across the word "Paleo-Future" in a Flickr group of the same name. However, the topic first sparked my interest when I visited Walt Disney World's EPCOT Center, (now Epcot), and realized that Disney's version of the future was based upon what they thought the future would look like in the 1980s. As is important when depicting the future, your opinions must change with the times, unless you happen to be omnipotent, which means you have no need to revise your vision of the future and have probably used your powers for such noble endeavors as guessing my weight at the local carnival or writing horoscopes that tell me, "you should find time for yourself tonight."

While I might poke fun at the outlandish ideas of 1950s America, corporate puffery, or Jules Verne I do it with an admiration for the idealism we seem to be losing in our post-modern society. The belief that technology has the potential to improve the lives of everyone on Earth seems rare. Just remember that an optimism for the future and the attempt to better the world for all humanity is hidden somewhere within each sarcastic comment about flying cars and space farms. In that same vein, I will always remember that the dystopian societies depicted by George Orwell or Alan Moore are just as plausible if we surrender freedom in the name of security. Here's to a "great big beautiful tomorrow."

Thanks for reading,

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