What’s Going to Happen

Posted by on Jul 17, 2013 in Random, Science

We’re on the verge of curing major diseases and sending tourists into space. What else does the future hold? Move over, Nostradamus. Here are headlines from the future.

July 8, 2015

Amelia Earhart Plane Discovered

Amelia-Earhart-1After withholding the discovery from the public to secure more government funding, the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) is pressured to disclose that they have found Amelia Earhart’s plane, missing since 1937, off the coast of Nikumaroro, and island in the south Pacific. At a depth of 600 feet, what remains are decomposed metal, glass, and plastic fragments, barely recognizable but unique to Earhart’s Lockheed Electra.

It is surmised that Earhart and Noonan might have survived on Nikumaroro (then known as Gardner Island) for several weeks before succumbing to thirst, starvation, injury, or disease on the waterless atoll.

February 4, 2016

High Cholesterol Cure

After identifying the genes responsible for high cholesterol, a pharmaceutical cure might be right around the corner.

November 7, 2016

First Female President

ClintonHillary Clinton becomes the first female US president. She will prove to be remarkably middle-of-the-road and boring.

October 11, 2017

Effective HIV Treatment

Seems that stem cell treatment and bone marrow transplants do the trick. Of course, this is an option only for the rich and relatively healthy.

May 1, 2019

Dead Actor in Feature-Length Film

image002The first full-length feature film with a CGI-generated, lifelike, historical actor will be released. Think Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, or Marilyn Monroe.

We’re not far off. The face of Brandon Lee, who had died partway through the shooting of The Crow in 1994, was digitally superimposed over the top of a body-double in order to complete those parts of the movie not yet filmed. In 2004, a synthetic Laurence Olivier co-starred in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Check out the convincing reproductions of Gene Kelly or Tupac in recent years.

The rendering time or the human labor needed to achieve this on a feature-length scale had been prohibitively expensive up to this point, but advances in computing power and an abundance of people who sit in front of computers for a living finally make it doable. Forward-thinking George Lucas is already buying the film rights to deceased actors.

Strangely, I had already selected the above date when I found this:

Arthur C. Clarke’s 1986 book July 20, 2019: Life in the 21st Century includes a fictional movie listing for the year 2019:

“Still Gone with the Wind. The sequel picks up several years after where the 80-year-old original left off, with Rhett and Scarlett reuniting in their middle age, in 1880. Features the original cast (Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, and Vivien Leigh) and studio sets resurrected by computer graphic synthesis. Still Gone sets out to prove that they do make ‘em like they used to. (Selznick Theater, 2:00 and 8:00 P.M.)”

October 31, 2019

Life Detected Elsewhere in the Universe

Evidence of a fossilized Martian microbe in the Allan Hills 84001 rock in 1996 has since been disputed.

ExoMars, a joint ESA/Russia venture, will find indisputable evidence of microbial life on Mars. A permafrost core sample will reveal a colony of microbes. The microbes prove to be DNA-based and not unlike microbes on Earth, but careful analysis will reveal that they are indeed unique to Mars. This groundbreaking discovery is evidence that life may be diasporic in nature, and that interplanetary and even interstellar panspermia has created abundant life throughout the universe.

The prevailing scientific question changes from “Is there life elsewhere in the universe?” to “Where did life in the universe originate?” Scientific and religious debates ensue.

January 11, 2020

Major Earthquake on West Coast

13661The Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) says that California has a 99.7% chance of having a magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake during the next 30 years. The likelihood of an even more powerful magnitude 7.5 or greater quake in the next 30 years is 46%.

Odds are roughly even that this quake will strike the Los Angeles or San Francisco Bay Area. Despite advances in earthquake-safe architecture, tens of thousands of people will lose their lives.

You can make fun of me, but this is a real reason that I don’t want to move out there.

August 30, 2020

Effective Cancer Treatment

urlNot quite a cure, but we may have already stumbled onto a substance that might inhibit tumor growth, and a new technique seems to be capable of blowing up cancer cells.

Only a matter of time before it’s synthesized, tested, and approved for humans.

April 20, 2022

Marijuana Legalized in the US

After the generation of people who staunchly opposed it dies off, politicians will appease the voting public by legalizing marijuana nationwide. It’s already starting to happen state-by-state.

June 11, 2022

Terrorists Blow Up Nuke in Westernized Country

To be honest, I’m amazed this hasn’t happened yet. With so many undocumented nukes, corrupt politicians, and terrorists floating around the globe, the fact that there has been no nuclear or dirty bomb attack in North America or Europe is either an astonishing accomplishment of international government security or an unbelievable run of good luck.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has reported more than a hundred nuclear smuggling incidents since 1993, and Russian authorities say that in the past three years alone they have broken up hundreds of nuclear-material smuggling deals. One Russian official has said that “it is surprisingly easy to smuggle nuclear weapons into the US”. Perhaps one of them will succeed.

It will be a relatively small device, but in a major city, it will do major damage. The explosion will not set off a nuclear war but will start an international “cold war” of sorts against an unseen enemy.

January 15, 2026

Most Americans Meet Online

We’re not far off. For the first time, a majority of Americans in relationships will have met online.

March 15, 2029

Kennedy Assassination Documents Released

JFKLucien_sartiadjemailWhistleblowers release thousands of JFK assassination–related documents that reveal that reveal the identity of JFK’s assassins. Evidence of a government cover-up and Mafia ties is also revealed.

In the 1980’s, a man named James Files, currently serving time in prison, identified himself as the grassy knoll shooter. He says the operation was orchestrated by men with ties to both the CIA and mafia. Files implicates two accomplices in the murder: Johnny Roselli and Charles Nicoletti, both operatives for the CIA and mafia boss Sam Giancana of Chicago. There are claims that Roselli may have fired at Kennedy from a storm drain on Elm Street, and Nicoletti may have been fired from a lower floor in the Dal-Tex building next door to the Depository. Files claims to have met Oswald the day before the assassination, but neither knew the other’s involvement.

Then there are E. Howard Hunt’s deathbed confessions, claiming that LBJ, the CIA, and Cuban exiles orchestrated the assassination. Lucien Sarti, an assassin for the Corsican mafia, is identified as the man who fired the fatal headshot from behind the picket fence on the grassy knoll. He was wearing a Secret Service or police uniform and has been purported to be the “Badge Man” in the Moorman photo. Apparently, Sarti had wanted to be located on the bridge above Elm Street, but discovered on the morning of the assassination that the bridge was guarded, forcing him to move onto “the little hill with the wooden fence”. Sarti took up a position behind this fence and fired one shot. There are also claims that convicted killer and LBJ’s close friend Malcolm “Mac” Wallace’s fingerprints were found in the Depository’s sixth-floor sniper nest.

The documents are released with little fanfare, as most of the people who cared are already dead.

July 14, 2030

Rising Sea Level Destroys Miami

20130620-miami-x600-1371747734Gradually, coastal flooding from storms and surges from hurricanes will become more destructive. Eventually, permanently encroaching sea levels will cause real estate values to plummet and force populations to relocate on higher ground.

Oceanic islanders will abandon their homes for the mainland. Soon after, major population centers like Mumbai and Guangzhou will slowly fall victim to rising sea levels. Miami will be the first high-profile American casualty, and eventually, most of Florida will be underwater. New York, New Orleans, Amsterdam, and London will also struggle with rising sea levels. Coastal populations in Africa and Asia will be forced migrate inland and across borders, causing land wars and political turmoil. Everyone will be affected.

May 12, 2031

Permanent Base on Moon

urlAn internationally funded effort will establish a permanent settlement on the moon. The base will be used to determine the moon’s economic mining potential and to research long-term space habitation and exploration.

March 2, 2032


Aided by it’s long incubation period and the convenience of air travel, a pandemic caused by drug-resistant bacteria will sweep the planet and infect millions. As a treatment or cure is researched, poor and remote populations in developing countries will be decimated.

In an effort to prevent drug-resistant bacteria, antibiotic usage will become more strictly regulated. International health policies will severely limit their use for the old, sick, and poor.

September 14, 2037

Nigerian Revolution

After decades of dictatorship by a corrupt government that has been unable to provide its citizens with basic needs like clean water, sanitation, health care, education, and functional capitalism, an exponentially growing working class population overthrows the government. With a new government and a more solid foundation for national growth in place, Nigeria will continue its slow rise to become the closest thing to a superpower that Africa has ever had.

December 27, 2041

Social Revolution Against Technology

After technology finally makes people too complacent in their communication, relationships, and careers, there will be a social movement to abandon it. The revolution will be led by Luddites those who wish to rediscover “humanity”. This won’t necessarily be a violent uprising, but more of a philosophical movement like feminism or gay rights.

It’s one last fight that to save us from becoming the floating, boneless smoothie drinkers in Wall-E. In the end, the sweet promises of technology will prove too alluring, and the revolution will fade away.

June 1, 2045

Majority of People Use Self-Driving Cars

After the success of Google’s driverless car and subsequent commercialization by large car manufacturers, a majority of American commuters use cars that drive themselves.

Old-school cars that require driving are still used by collectors, race enthusiasts, and those traveling off the grid.

March 8, 2047

First Commercial Attempt to Mine an Asteroid

A small craft successfully lands on an asteroid with the full intent of mining its raw materials for return to Earth.

Investment in such commercial ventures is already occurring.

February 25, 2051

Man (and Maybe Woman) Lands on Mars

After a series of probes and robotic explorers pave the way, a one-way trip of human explorers lands on Mars. It will be a triumph of human spirit celebrated around the globe. It might not captivate humankind quite the way the Moon landing did, but it will be close.

The first batch of humans will likely be scientists, mechanics, and farmers. Subsequent ships would bring colonists.

July 21, 2059

Permanent Mining Colony on Moon

url-1With the discovery of mineable metals and mineral deposits, our permanent settlement on the moon will become a commercial venture. The rarest, most desirable raw materials will be transported back to Earth, while manufacturing and interplanetary exploration research continues on the moon.

A celebration will be timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11.

August 12, 2067

Fusion Becomes Viable Energy Source

urlAfter overcoming obstacles to plant efficiency and finding secure ways to dispose of nuclear waste, fusion plants become viable and operational. Oceanwater, an almost unlimited source of deuterium, meets the world’s energy needs.

We may not be far off.

September 12, 2072

Solar Eruption Erases Every Magnetic Hard Drive on the Planet

urlQuite frequently, a coronal mass ejection (CME) will create pretty aurora and knock out satellites and cell phone towers. But what happens when there is a really big one? The burst of electromagnetic radiation would cause massive power outages and disrupt or erase every magnetic hard drive on the planet.

Think about the ramifications. Every personal computer and every back-up is erased, businesses lose their entire infrastructure, and global security measures are temporarily disabled.

It’s likely that these major eruptions have occurred in the past, when mankind didn’t have the technology to detect it or suffer its consequences. Unfortunately, we’ve now become vulnerable. Hopefully, when this happens, we will have come up with some other, more secure technologies for data storage. Shielded underground bunkers? Holograms? Biological computers?

April 30, 2080

Human Cloning

We can already read DNA in a rudimentary way and are just starting to figure out ways to manipulate it. Human cloning will soon be possible and, ethical arguments aside, will likely carried out as soon as the technology becomes available.

Of course, by the time technology reaches this point, we’ll likely be up to our necks in other ethical bioengineering problems. Want to choose your children’s features? Want to be a super-athlete? Want to create new kinds of biological weapons? Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Where there’s money, there’s a motive.

January 1, 2103

World Population Peaks at 11 Billion

url-1Advances in health care and genetic food engineering have enabled us to get this far, but the shrinking amount of comfortably habitable land causes the world population to plateau at about 11 billion.

With pressure from voters who are already here and like their space, government measures are put into place to keep populations in check. It probably won’t be poison in the water like Children of Men, but perhaps government-funded birth control or tax rebates for children not conceived.

June 24, 2106

Cancer Cure

We can already read DNA. The challenge is analyzing and repairing it everywhere in the body, dynamically and constantly. Daily body scans? Nanorobots swimming around in our blood and fixing things? It’ll be a big hurdle, but we’ll figure it out.

January 18, 2154

Brain Stimulation Replaces Sex

With Ecstasy, LSD, and a slew of other drugs, it’s already possible to chemically stimulate the brain in pleasurable ways. It’s only a matter of time before we figure out a way to do the same with technology and to get so proficient at it that it becomes better than the real thing.

Will it be with little hats, like in Strange Days? Or like the Matrix, with metal connectors ported into the back of your head? Wireless implants?

Of course, the poor will continue to have sex.

March 22, 2170

Brain Content is Downloaded

We’re just starting to figure out how memories are physically stored in the brain, and for the first time, computers are modeling human brain activity. Eventually, the data contents of a human brain will be downloaded into a computer. We’re just now starting to figure out how to do it.

The salvageable data will be strictly informational, at first. Consciousness, we will realize, is difficult to define, let alone recreate. Perhaps, we’ll eventually be able to create a conscious, self-aware being. But it won’t be you. It will be a copy of you.

I see a day where our brain is downloaded, and humans are interacting with virtual copies of themselves. What, then, are the possibilities? Is there any value in having digital copies of ourselves? Interesting to think about.

November 13, 2189

Brain Content is Uploaded

As we get better at interpreting brain information, we’ll start figuring out how to send data back in so that it is biologically and permanently stored in the brain. We’re already tinkering with this on mice. It’ll be slow-going at first, but we’ll get better. Think Matrix.

At this point, the line between man and machine will become increasingly blurred and the singularity will be upon us.

October 12, 2370

Launch of Colonization Craft

For the first time, a spacecraft filled with human settlers will be launched and sent to predetermined planet in another solar system with no intent of returning the Earth. The target planet will have been identified as habitable to humans.

With combination of gravity assists and nuclear pulse propulsion, the journey will take a couple of centuries. (No, I don’t believe in wormholes or faster-than-light travel.) If cryopreservation or hypersleep are not viable technologies, it is the ancestors of the original crewmembers who will set foot on the new planet.

This is the beginning of the spread of humanity to the rest of the universe.

September 22, 2976

Contact with Intelligent Life

Michelangelo_-_Creation_of_AdamWe may well have detected their signals long before this happens, but the astronomical distances have always made two-way communication difficult and visitation nearly impossible.

Eventually, as we skip across the cosmos, we’ll run into other spacefaring civilizations that have achieved a similar level of technology. Just like us, they’ll be navigating the stars and looking to meet the neighbors.

My guess is that any advanced civilization we meet will be friendly and collaborative. Any inherently greedy, hostile, or corrupt intelligence would have destroyed itself from the inside as soon as the technology became available.

I won’t be around to witness most of this stuff. Unless, somehow, we speed things up a bit and figure out how to download my consciousness to a computer pretty soon.

There are, of course, the inevitable things that will happen that can’t be predicted with any degree of precision, like geomagnetic pole reversals, asteroid impacts, the eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera, the Sun turning into a red giant, or a gamma ray burst from a distant star. Seems silly to assign dates to things like this when they might happen anytime in the next few millions or billions of years.

This post is dedicated to Jon, Robert, and my other future-thinking friends.

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