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Featured Advance of Technology; 1818 to 2318...

  1. Nov 7, 2016 #1

    Baluncore

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    This article from 1820 covers many advances in technology; Slavery; Prosthetic limbs; Voyage to the Moon denial; Mammoth power; Newton's Principia; Airconditioning; Recorded voice; Whale power, and Energy from underground.

    Extracted from "The Bee, Fireside Companion and Evening Tales", Printed in Liverpool, England. Circa 1820. [Columns 244 to 247.] [My notes].
    It looks forward 500 years. But things have happened a little quicker than anticipated in the Bee.

    "
    AMERICA IN THE YEAR 2318. — A Quiz.

    The American Republic is the only civilized and organized government in the world, which boasts of liberty, and admits of slavery within its limits, and in which perpetual bondage is recognized by the principles of its constitution. Doubtless this contains some hidden mystery, not to be penetrated by the contracted views, and unhallowed gaze, of short-sighted Europeans. America is a field for speculation. Many things which now exist on this continent, were once thought to be impossible; and advancing in improvements, we venture to anticipate those triumphs of art and ingenuity, which we presume will arise to astonish the world, when a few centuries more have elapsed. The union of slavery and republican liberty will justify almost any prediction, and any expectation.
    Hail happy Columbia! Thou art already become a retreat for those whom the tyranny of ancient governments has driven from their houses. To thee may retire the traitor, the assassin, and the swindler; and in thy arms may the liberal and enlightened philosopher, who knowing that money is the property of all alike, has obtained it by forgery, find that peace of which – which— of which I should say, in the despicable language of Europe, he has deprived the rightful owner. Happy land! — woe, endless woe, be the portion of him who, in the malice of his heart, compares thee to the Thames, which receives and fattens on the common sewers that empty their dark waters into its turbid bosom. Long mayest thou flourish; flourish when the rest of the globe is sunk into the gloomy night of Christianity; lost in the mazes of justice; and confounded by the inviolability of property; and now, as a speculation on thy future prosperity, I venture, as the once celebrated Francis Moore, physician and astrologer, annually saith, “for the information of the curious,” to predict the following improvements: improvements which time may verify when the hand that new writes them, has long mouldered in the clammy soil, or whitened in the chill and ungenial air of Britain.

    New York, Dec. 1, 2318. —The celebrated automaton physician has arrived here, and has already begun to perform some of his usual miracles. Since he has been here, we ourselves have been witnesses to one of his surprising cures. A man, whose arm had been amputated some years ago, being brought to him, was, to the utter astonishment of all who knew him, rendered, after a few days, as whole as he had ever been in the very spring of his existence.
    This most wonderful master-piece of modern art is composed entirely of the new metal called hardoniensiana, which, as we have already hinted, “possesses the surprising quality of moving with quickness without any force whatever being impressed upon it, and which never wears out.” The automaton is hollow within, and is filled with a quantity of highly rarefied air, brought from the moon, by those adventurous aeronauts, Messrs. Sharpe and Airbuilder, on which the chemists have bestowed the name of Lunatic Gas.

    Baltimore, Dec. 1, 2318. — As many of our readers in distant parts of the country have doubted whether the voyage to the Moon ever did take place, we do again assure them, upon our veracity, that the information was literally correct. This aerial journey must indeed appear to many who hear of it a most extraordinary undertaking; particularly when it is recollected, that in the dark ages of English credulity, it was imagined that tubes two hundred and forty thousand miles in length, besides being exposed to many other insuperable objections, would break with their own Weight. Yet such were the tubes used by our adventurers, and such were absolutely necessary to supply them with air from the dense atmosphere of our earth. At the period to which We allude, when every science was fettered with the adamantine chains of system, it was also thought impossible for goose-quill, or any other wings, to be of service where the air was so rare as to offer no resistance. This idea the undertaking now under consideration has fully disproved; for, after the wonders one goose his quill has performed, what must we not expect from the labours of a number united. Before we take leave of this interesting subject, we must correct an error that crept into our paper of this day month. It was on the first, and not on the fourth, of April that Messrs. Sharpe and Airbuilder departed on their journey.

    New Orleans, Dec. 1, 2318.— The MAMMOTH. — Some public-spirited gentlemen here, willing to encourage the breed of these useful domestic animals, have it in contemplation to establish Mammoth races, somewhere near this city. Hitherto the Mammoth has been only used for draught or carriage; but, as our enlightened compatriots have taken up the business, we hope soon to see it rival the fleetest horse.
    The steam-engine erecting on the canal cutting across the Isthmus of Darien, [Now the Panama Canal], is we understand of one hundred and fifty Mammoth power.

    Washington, Dec. 1, 2318.— The antiquarian society has lately come to a determination of reprinting several works which have long ceased to excite the attention of the refined taste of modern times. These Works though utterly devoid of every qualification requisite to please the classic reader, are yet curious, inasmuch as they let us into the manners, customs, and ideas, of our ancestors. In doing which, they form, as it were, one link in the endless chain of eternity. They are to be accompanied with notes, and a glossary: and the laborious work has already been undertaken by several of our literati. Those, the transcription of which is already commenced, are Tragedies and Comedies, written by William Shakspeare; Paradise Lost, an Epic Poem, in blank verse, by John Milton; Mother Bunch’s Fairy Tales; a work usually known by the name of the Principia, written by one Newton; the History of Jack the Giant Killer; and a periodical publication on ethics and the social duties, called the Rambler, written by Dr. Samuel Johnson.

    — Advertisement. — The public are respectfully informed, that patent cloud attractors and cloud repellers are now brought to the highest state of perfection. Gentlemen possessing this invaluable discovery may vary the quantity of heat and cold, dryness and moisture, on their estates, according to their pleasure. Made and sold solely by the patentee at his warehouse.

    The first stone of the Grand College of Atheists was laid yesterday. We have no doubt that this institution will be the means of extending the empire of pure Wisdom to the farthest bounds of the globe. — The new “Vocal instrument,” lately introduced for reading prayers in the churches of Virginia, is said to be the invention of one of the professors, who by this means hopes to get rid of those dangerous enemies to reason, the clergy.

    Boston, New EngIand, Dec. 1, 2318. — NORTHERN EXPEDITION. — By a vessel direct from Baffin’s Bay, We learn that Mr. Van Blubberberg has, succeeded beyond his most sanguine expectations in his experiments on the possibility of taming the whale. Two of these marine giants have already become so domesticated that they obey the voice and signals of their master as readily as a dog. Mr. Van Blubberberg every day harnesses them to a vessel of six hundred tons burden, which, they drag through the waters with more speed, and as much regularity; is as a pair of well managed horses do a carriage on shore. We have no doubt that in a short time this discovery will entirely supersede the use of masts and sails.

    Frederick, New Brunswick, Dec. 1, 2318. — The Workmen employed in sinking the immense, pit in this neighbourhood, have lateIy discovered a most extraordinary phenomenon. It is a spring of liquid fire, possessing in an eminent degree every known chemical and culinary quality obtained from the burning of wood, coals, &c. Yet so singular is it in it's properties, that, though it communicates caloric in any quantity, it will burn for ever without diminution; it will not ignite any other known body, and is so harmless that any animal may continue in the midst of the flame for any period without being scorched, singed, or otherwise injured.
    "

    [ Francis Moore, physician and astrologer,
    Moore, Francis (1657-1715).
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Moore_(astrologer)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Moore's_Almanack ]
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 7, 2016 #2
    What a bizarre and fascinating article, thanks!!
     
  4. Nov 8, 2016 #3

    anorlunda

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    I agree very interesting. But hard to read because the 19th century writing styles were so darned verbose.

    You can see it here on PF. Posts on Internet forums tend to be more concise. The more verbose they are, the less likely they are to be read. (Except for @jim hardy 's long posts. I love to read every word of those :-)
     
  5. Nov 8, 2016 #4

    jim hardy

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    Thanks, anorlunda.
     
  6. Nov 8, 2016 #5

    Baluncore

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    I quite agree with the verbosity comments. Back in 1820, not that many people could read. Telling a good story was an art, the long and slow style of which appears in this article. Articles in the Bee were written by independent colonial correspondents, posted to England where they were printed and then circulated, back to the English colonies and the USA.
    Concise scientific writing is quite the opposite of story-telling. In science we give the key results up front in the abstract, without a spoiler alert. Story-tellers keep the key information hidden until the very end, so as to maintain the attention of their readers and listeners.

    The prescience of the topics is most interesting as it predicts the future path that technology will take. This article from 1820 can be seen as preparing the mindset needed by the creators of future technology. I believe the children of each generation follow the science fiction of the previous generation. When they get to University, it seems they try to find a way to make the science fiction of it's youth into fact.

    Without disbelief, and a touch of paranoia, we would not question our current technical position. That would lead to a conservative acceptance of the present paradigm, and so a stagnation of engineering technology. As an example, the moon landing scepticism, here reported in 1820, seems to indicate a fundamental feature of the human condition, one that is perversely connected to advances in technology.
     
  7. Nov 8, 2016 #6

    jim hardy

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    When i read 1800's electrical engineering books i am struck with how those guys struggled for words to describe the concepts.
    By 1940's textbooks had become more concise and practical, describing concepts in words and working examples to demonstrate technique..
    Today's texts are so terse, short on explanation and long on mathematical tap-dancing that i'd never make it through a modern EE curriculum.

    I harp on a lot about Laviosier's "Introduction to treatise on chemistry" .
    He says 'science is but language well arranged" and explores the relation between words and the mental images they need to convey.
    I read it in my mid thirties and took him to heart. I do work hard at writing explanations so they'll lead a train of thought stepwise.
    Asimov was the grand master at that, his early essays on science for laymen will affect a developing brain. I read a lot of them in high school.

    Anyhow if anybody's interested here is Laviosier's introduction.
    https://web.lemoyne.edu/giunta/lavpref.html
    The time spent deciphering his baroque sentences is well spent, our brain needs to occasionally slow down and think real hard . Loosens up the cogs.
    There's a very humorous paragraph near the end where he quotes Abbe d' Condillac .
    It starts with
    Watch committees in action around your workplace and see if you agree he nailed bureaucratic thinking a century and a half before Parkinson's Laws .

    old jim
     
  8. Nov 8, 2016 #7
    In 2020 we should continue the tradition of this article and project out 500 years to 2518.
     
  9. Nov 8, 2016 #8

    Baluncore

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    I have trouble projecting 5 years ahead, and I find 50 years quite impossible to even guess at.
    Perhaps following science fiction is the most reliable method we have for projection into the future. It is a bit self-referential though. How can we tell if science fiction independently predicts the future, or if it actually decides the future.
     
  10. Nov 9, 2016 #9
    Well yea I didn't mean to imply predictions that far out would be at all accurate (just like with this 1820s article). We could predict things like digital superintelligences sending out von Neumann probes to nearby star systems (and beyond) to study exo-planets, and we could also predict the early construction of a dyson sphere around our host star, and virtual reality experiences that are completely indistinguishable from the real world, and 3D printing at the nanoscale for everyone, and so on and so forth--it's just fun to imagine (in retrospect, these predictions actually seem closer than 500 years away--who knows).

    Having written all that, I find it highly unlikely those predictions will be at all accurate (just like with this 1820s article). Still, I'm sure it would be an amusing read for people living in the early 26th century nonetheless (assuming things go smoothly and we don't ruin our civilization prematurely).

    And I don't think sci-fi predicts or decides the future except for in some rare but prominent cases (like with some stuff in Asimov's fiction, or Clarke's, or Roddenberry's--even then, they weren't very spot-on). There's plenty of sci-fi out there that gets things completely wrong. And anyway, isn't it pioneering work in physics like Quantum Theory and engineering milestones like the laser and the transistor that preface and invariaby fuel lots of science fiction? I think it's inevitable you're going to get some particularly creative people who are going to deliver compelling stories and simultaneously predict or even set the course for technologies of the future. But it's all amidst a background of actual discovery that shapes the direction of our science.
     
  11. Nov 9, 2016 #10

    mheslep

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    I agree with the art of the story in the period, but literacy in the colonies which became America was quite high among white men, higher than much of England, and women rapidly caught up in last half of 19th century.

     
  12. Nov 10, 2016 #11
    There is enough depth on this forum for folks to write about 500 year projections. Not like anyone reading now can prove you wrong.....or can they?
     
  13. Nov 10, 2016 #12

    anorlunda

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    No need to project 500 years. I'm a fan of the Technological Singularity. Therefore, there is no need to predict beyond the year 2045. :rolleyes:
     
  14. Nov 11, 2016 #13

    Janus

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    It's a nice example of the satire of the time.
     
  15. Nov 11, 2016 #14
    Dear science you let me down - where's my hoverboard??

     
  16. Nov 12, 2016 #15
    Thank you man for this..
     
  17. Nov 13, 2016 #16
    Wow its a very important thing to know that everyone should read some thing
     
  18. Nov 13, 2016 #17

    mfb

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    I tried to find specific predictions in the text, and judged them based on today's world:

    Wrong:
    • Slavery still exists in the US
    • "The American Republic is the only civilized and organized government in the world, which boasts of liberty"
    • All the hate against Europe. Seriously, what went wrong there?
    • "when the rest of the globe is sunk into the gloomy night of Christianity" is very ironic considering that the US population is more religious than all other first-world countries.
    • The violation of conservation of momentum by "hardoniensiana"
    • The journey to the moon requires tubes all the way from Earth to the moon to supply astronauts with air.
    • Mammoths for transportation, as unit of power and basically everything else. Also dolphins for transportation. In general the author completely missed machines as power source, although steam engines did exist in 1820.
    • The weird flaming thing described in "Frederick, New Brunswick"

    True:
    • "Many things which now exist on this continent, were once thought to be impossible" - that is an easy prediction
    • Artificial arms exist, although they are not as good as biological ones in 2016.
    • Humans went to the moon, and some people don't accept that.
    • Panama canal. The idea was not new, but serious work didn't start until 1881.
    • Very old books are still printed - also an easy prediction, the bible is one of them

    Doesn't fit into those categories:
    • Bringing material from Moon to Earth for commercial applications has not been done but it is discussed, especially for Helium-3. This is not "highly rarefied air", but keep in mind that Helium was not even discovered in 1820, and the concept of isotopes was completely unknown.
    • There are ideas to breed mammoths and other extinct species, but it has not been done yet.
    • While there are no "cloud attractors" and "cloud repellers", artificially inducing rain is possible (although not on the level of individual properties)
    • Domesticated whales: Technically dolphins are whales, and they can be trained to do things. But they are not used to pull ships.
     
  19. Nov 13, 2016 #18

    Baluncore

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    To be fair, I think you should really wait for another three centuries, until 2318, before judging the veracity of the predictions.
     
  20. Nov 13, 2016 #19

    mfb

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    Well, I cannot rule out that the US re-introduces slavery in the future, but the article reads like it would have been around the whole 500 years. Which is clearly wrong. Statements like "X needs Y" can also be judged today, if we did X without Y, and I'm highly confident that conservation of energy and momentum will survive further 300 years.
     
  21. Nov 13, 2016 #20

    Janus

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    Then of course you have to take into account that the article was written to be satire.
     
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