‘Beam me up, Scottie’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Do you ever wonder what the world might be like 100 years from now?

Two hundred?


My co-workers and I got into a discussion today about cavemen and how they would hypothetically react to the modern world.

That led to us talking about a movie called &uot;Just Visiting,&uot; a comedy released in 2001 in which two medieval noblemen are magically transported to the 21st century.

I haven’t seen that movie in years, but I remember how hilarious it was to see them bumble about trying to figure out the inventions and customs of our time.

So then I started thinking about how a person from our time would react being thrust into the world of, say, the 26th century.

(If we somehow manage not to obliterate ourselves before then, that is.)

Many people would say that the world of the future will be much the same as it is now.

Not many can imagine great leaps of technology or astounding new inventions.

However, this false belief has been the same throughout time.

If you had approached a gentleman of the 15th century and told him that in 500 years there would be not only motorized vehicles on the ground, but also in the sky, he would have thought you were a lunatic.

One hundred years ago, if a person of the early 1900’s had been told that in less than a century man would travel to the moon, they would have not believed it.

Even as recently as 20 years ago, the average person would not have believed that computers and cell phones would feature as prominently in today’s society as they do.

Such a thing was unthinkable back then, to be so reliant on such sophisticated technology.

With the exception of a few visionaries, each generation has for the most part believed that their current inventions and ways of the world would be as far as technology would advance.

Today we think what could possibly be more advanced than handheld computers, cell phones, cars, airplanes and even space travel?

I’d have to say that’s a pretty limited view of future possibilities.

Of course, no one can accurately predict the inventions of hundreds of years from now; if they could, then they would be inventions of the present rather than the future.

More than likely, they are things scientists now cannot even begin to conceive of.

Popular science fiction focuses on inventions such as the ability to travel through space at &uot;warp speed,&uot; or faster than the speed of light.

Others hypothesize that teleportation will be possible and even common in the future.

(Personally, I’d settle for a car that drives itself and uses no expensive gasoline, but that’s just me.)

Who knows, really, what will exist in the future?

All I am sure of is that whatever the world will be like 500 years from now, it will be vastly different from today.

Someday, somebody, somewhere will undoubtedly look back on us as we do our ancestors and laugh at our ineptitude and unsophistication.

Maybe they’ll even make a movie about somebody from our time ending up in their world and making a fool of himself (or herself).

Heck, I know people who don’t even know how to turn on a modern computer; I can’t even imagine how they would react to the technology of hundreds of years from now!

I would say too bad that none of us alive today will be here to witness what the future holds… but could we?

Maybe in 50 years a medical breakthrough will happen to reverse the aging process and allow people to live hundreds of years.

(Of course, then you’d have the problem of overcrowding, as there would be a disproportionate number of births to the low number of deaths… but that’s beside the point; I’m just imagining here.)

Again, though, who really knows?

All we can do at this point is speculate and imagine.

The future holds a certain fascination for just about everyone… and I’m no exception.

Jennipher Dickens is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.

For comments and column suggestions, she can be reached by calling (252) 332-7208 or by emailing jennipher.dickens@r-cnews.com.