Really impressive predictions are the ones that sound ridiculous at the time but come true in the end.
As science fiction writer Arthur Clarke said, “If by some miracle, a prophet could describe the future exactly as it was going to take place, his predictions would so sound so far-fetched, so absurd, that everyone would laugh him to scorn.”
This Quora post inspired us to put together a list of the most impressive predictions ever.
By analysing population growth in Europe, Ezra Stiles, then president of Yale University, predicted in 1783 that America's population would reach 300 million in 200 years. Almost 200 years later to the day, U.S. population hit 300 million.
Source: David Thomson
In 1865, more than 100 years before Apollo 11, Jules Verne wrote about humankind's first trip to the moon in a short story titled, 'From the Earth to the Moon.'
He even knew the rocket would launch from Florida, the name of the ship, the correct number of astronauts aboard, and the feeling of weightlessness they would experience. In 1865, Verne had absolutely no way of knowing there isn't gravity in space.
Source: Tech News Daily
In 1898, a prolific short story writer named Morgan Robertson wrote a novella called 'Futility, Or The Wreck of the Titan.' The book detailed how the largest ship ever made crashed into an iceberg and sank. Sound familiar?
The RMS Titanic sank under those exact circumstances 14 years later.
'It will soon be possible to transmit wireless messages all over the world so simply that any individual can own and operate his own apparatus,' Nikola Tesla told The New York Times in 1909.
Source: New York Times via Popular Mechanics
H.G. Wells' 1914 novel 'The World Set Free' described a city-destroying 'atomic bomb.' Although Wells didn't know if or how nuclear detonation could really happen -- the Manhattan Project which designed the atomic bomb didn't begin until 1942 -- he understood a bit about radioactive elements.
Regardless, Wells knew that if humans figured out how to blow up these compounds simultaneously, the result would be really bad news.
'We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialling system to order the movie you want at the time you want it,' Roger Ebert said in 1987 during an interview with Omni Magazine.
During an interview with Bill Moyers in 1988, science fiction author Isaac Asimov basically predicted the Internet -- but more specifically, how students would benefit from universal access to information.
Asimov said that through computers, we'd have access to 'connected libraries,' which would act as a 'teacher in the form of access to the gathered knowledge of the human species.'
Inherently critical of the education system, he dreamed up online learning as a solution.
'Nowadays, what people call learning is forced on you. Everyone is forced to learn the same thing on the same day at the same speed in class. And everyone is different. For some it goes too fast, for some too slow, for some in the wrong direction,' he said.
Source: Maria Maceiras
In 1993, AT&T launched their imaginative 'You Will' campaign. In dozens of television commercials, the company asked viewers 'have you ever' and then named some crazy feat of technology that couldn't be accomplished at the time -- like sending a fax from the beach.
This image from their campaign looks exactly like the tablets we have now, 20 years later.
Source: Thomas Goodwin
On Chris Rock's 1997 series on HBO, he produced a skit reminiscing about various celebrities who had dropped by the studio to promote their products.
He joked that O.J. Simpson came by to talk about his new video, 'I Didn't Kill My Wife! But If I DID, Here's How I'd Do It.' O.J. Simpson published his hypothetical plan for murder in November 2006.
Source: Cracked, which admits that Simpson could have actually seen the skit and then named his book.
In a 2006 episode of the hilarious TV series Scrubs, the janitor makes an eerie comment to J.D.
'In my opinion, we should be looking for Bin Laden in Pakistan,' he said.
U.S. soldiers did indeed find the terrorist hiding in a well-guarded house in Pakistan.
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