The entirety of the IT story will be split into two movies, which take place in a Derry, Maine. Part one begins in 1958, with the mysterious disappearances and murders of children in Derry. A group of kids, known as “The Losers Club” find themselves going up against the evil entity known as Pennywise the clown, who’s been stealing and murdering children for hundreds of years. The second #movie would take place in 1985, and bring these characters back together as adults. When the disappearances in Derry begin again, the “Losers Club” must stop Pennywise once and for all. Not much else has been released on the storyline yet, however, Bill Skarsgård, who plays Pennywise the Clown, promises the movies will feature a fresh new take on Steven King’s beloved horror #book.
According to director Dan Lin, IT will have an “R” rating. Here’s what Lin had to say about his cast and the movie:
The kids are amazing. You very much get a “Stand by Me” vibe as far as their camaraderie and the way they joke with each other and that they really care for each other. They do have a scary clown that’s taken over the town of Derry, so it’s going to be rated R.
Check out the poster below! New Line currently has this set to release September 8, 2017.
There is something that captivates us about natural disasters. Is it the power nature holds, or perhaps the intrigue? The elements that sit with such beauty every day of our lives, such as the sea, the mountains, and the snow, also carry the potential to destroy us. They are one of the only things in the world that we can never control and hardly predict. We all have studied some of the most well-known natural disasters in history, such as the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, Hurricane Katrina, and The Black Plague. Lets take a look at 15 other astonishing acts of #nature that are less well known.
1958 Lituya Bay Megatsunami
On the night of July 9, 1958, an 7.7 magnitude earthquake was recorded along the Fairweather Fault in Alaska. The earthquake triggered a rockfall at Lituya Bay, and about 40 million yards of rock plunged 3000 feet down into the waters of Gilbert Inlet, generating a local tsunami. The wave that traveled across the bay following the rockfall was reported to be 98 feet high at the crest. The wave crashed against the southwest shoreline of Gilbert Inlet, and swept completely over the land that separates Gilbert Inlet from the main body of Lituya Bay. The wave then continued down the entire length of Lituya Bay, over La Chaussee Spit and into the Gulf of Alaska. The wave removed all trees and plants from the land, even as high up as 1720 feet above sea level. Millions of trees were uprooted and swept into the Gulf of Alaska. This is the highest wave that has ever been recorded.
“The wave definitely started in Gilbert Inlet, just before the end of the quake. It was not a wave at first. It was like an explosion..” – Howard Ulrich, Survivor
1815 Tambora Eruption
1816 was often called “The year without a summer.” This was due to the largest and most deadly volcano eruption in 10,000 years, which happened in April of 1815, Mt. Tambora in Indonesia. Tambora erupted and spewed 12 cubic miles of gases, dust and rock into the atmosphere and onto the islands in the surrounding area. Rivers of ash and magma poured down the mountain, burning grasslands, forests and homes, sending tsunamis racing across the Java sea in every direction. Debris from the volcano clouded the atmosphere and affected the entire planet for months, contributing to crop failure in North America and illnesses in Europe. The eruption killed more than 100,000 people, directly: through tsunamis, magma, and ash, and indirectly: through famine, illness and severe weather changes, which people were unprepared for. Floating islands of pumice up to 3 miles long were observed in April 1815, and many years after the eruption these islands still hindered travel.
1707 Hōei Earthquake
The 8.6 magnitude Hoei Earthquake struck Japan on October 28th, 1707. It was the biggest recorded earthquake in Japan’s history until 2011. This earthquake caused severe damaged, and ruptured all the segments of the Nankai megathrust simultaneously; the only earthquake in history that has done this. There was a following landslide and destructive tsunami, about 30 feet high, which resulted in 5,000 casualties. The earthquake may also have been responsible for the last eruption of Mt. Fuji, which happened only 49 days later.
1931 China Floods
Known as the one of the greatest natural disasters ever recorded, the China Floods estimated a death toll range between 145,000 and 4 million people in 1931. In this year, three of China’s biggest rivers: The Yellow, The Yangtze, and The Huai all flooded. The flooding was due partly to weather conditions: heavy rains and unexpected snow, as well as seven cyclones. The lands next to the rivers were also overused due to farming, with dams built incorrectly and forests and wetlands that are naturally used to control the river destroyed. When the unexpected weather of 1931 happened, the rivers overflowed and dams broke and waters flooded central China. 100,000 people were killed in immediate floods, but the floods also killed crops, destroyed storage facilities, homes, and roads, leaving survivors without shelter, food or aid. Many starved to death, with the inability to find food or plant crops, and disease swept through communities with no aid or shelter.
1871 Peshtigo Fire
The Peshtigo Fire was the deadliest wildfire in recorded history, which happened on October 8th, 1871. The fire was in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, and burned over 1,200,000 acres, with anywhere between 1,000 and 2,500 casualties. Unfortunately, this happened on the same day as the Great Chicago fire, so it is largely forgotten. On the same day as the Peshtigo and Chicago fire, there were also fires in Holland and Manistee, Michigan, and Port Huron, Michigan, which makes some historians believe the fires were all connected.
1970 Peruvian Earthquake
On May 23rd, 1970, an 8.0 magnitude undersea earthquake occurred off the coast of Lima, Peru, lasting 45 seconds. The earthquake did immense damage to buildings, roads and bridges, however, it was the avalanche that came next that had the most devastating effects. The earthquake had destabilized Mount Huascarán, causing over 300 million cubic feet of rock, ice and snow to break away and tear down its slope at more than 120 miles per hour, towards the cities of Yungay. It picked up more rock, snow and debris as it thundered down the hill, and by the time it reached the valley only three minutes later, it was a 3,000 foot-wide wave of ice, mud, and rocks. Within moments, the town of Yungay and its 25,000 inhabitants were crushed beneath the landslide. The smaller village of Ranrahirca was buried as well, making this the most devastating natural disaster in Peru’s history.
1755 Great Lisbon Earthquake, Fire and Tsunami
On All Saints Day, November 1st, 1755, There was an 8.5-9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Portugal. The effects of the earthquake were felt down into North Africa, up into Switzerland, Italy and France.The town that was most effected was Lisbon. The initial destruction from the earthquake was beyond description, where the great cathedrals, all full of worshipers on the sacred holiday, collapsed, killing thousands. The exquisite buildings along the Tagus disappeared into the river. Several fires broke out immediately following the earthquake, from candles and cooking fires. Within minutes the fires had spread, turning Lisbon into an inferno. Two thirds of the city was destroyed by the fire which raged for five days. Following the earthquake and fire, an enormous tsunami swept through the harbor and downtown area, rushing up the Tagus river. Many people died from wandering out into the ocean while the tide pulled back to look at the shipwrecks and lost cargo, not knowing that a tsunami is usually two or three waves, not only one. The three tsunami waves struck various towns along the west coast of Portugal, and damaged towns in Spain, Moroccco and Tangier, as well as many islands. In the city of Agadir, the waters passed over the walls of the city, killing many inhabitants. The tsunami took just over four hours to travel over 1000 miles to the United Kingdom. Galway, on the west coast of Ireland, was also hit, resulting in partial destruction of the “Spanish Arch” section of the city wall. This event was one of the most destructive natural disasters in history, killing more than a third of the entire population of Lisbon. Tens of thousands of Portuguese who survived the earthquake were killed by the tsunami triggered by the earthquake. The tsunami was accountable for about 70,000 deaths in Portugal, Spain and Morocco.
1925 Tri-State Tornado
The Tri-State Tornado was the deadliest tornado in US history, occurring on March 18th, 1925. This was part of a deadly “tornado outbreak” which occurs when several tornadoes happen at the same time. The Tri-State Tornado was an F-5 tornado, and lasted for 3-1/2 hours, traveling through three states, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri before dissipating. There were 700 fatalities, and 15,000 buildings destroyed. Winds around it averaged 300 miles an hour, and the tornado traveled with an average speed of 65 miles-per-hour, with anywhere between a 3600 feet and mile-wide path of destruction.
1986 Lake Nyos Disaster
On August 21st, 1986, Lake Nyos in Cameroon erupted in what’s known as a limnic eruption, sending a fountain of carbon dioxide and water over 300 feet into the air and creating a small tsunami. Hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide flowed down the mountain into the surrounding towns, suffocating over 1700 people and 3500 animals up to 15 miles away. It is still unknown what caused this.
1556 Shaanxi Earthquake
What has been called the deadliest earthquake on record occurred on January 23rd, 1556. A 520 mile area in China was destroyed, killing over 800,000 people, many being crushed by their homes, which were at that time primarily stone caves. Over 60% of the population of two provinces were killed. Crevasses as deep as 60 feet opened up in the earth, paths of rivers were altered which led to flooding, mountains were leveled and fires started from candles and cooking fires, which raged for days. Following this earthquake, stone buildings were abandoned, and buildings made of wood and bamboo became popular housing, as they were more flexible and made from more earthquake resistant material.
1972 Iran Blizzard
Iran’s Blizzard in February 1972 is known as the most deadly blizzard in history. Between February 3rd and February 9th, over 10 feet of snow was dropped on rural areas in Northwest and Central Iran. Southern Iran received no less than 26 feet of snow, killing over 4,000 people. Small outlying villages were the hardest hit, wiping 200 small villages completely off the map.
1792 Unzen Earthquake And Megatsunami
The Unzen earthquake, landslide and tsunami first began with volcanic activity on Mt. Unzen, on May 21st, 1792. There were first two earthquakes that came from the volcano. The earthquakes triggered a tremendous landslide, as the eastern flank of Mount Unzen’s Mayuyama dome collapsed. The landslide swept through the city of Shimbara into Ariake Bay, triggering a great tsunami, with a wave between 33–66 feet tall. The tsunami struck Higo Province on the other side of Ariake Bay before bouncing back and hitting Shimabara again. There were an estimated 15,000 deaths, around 5,000 are estimated to have perished in the landslide, around 5,000 by the tsunami across the bay in Higo Province, and 5,000 by the tsunami returning to strike Shimabara.
1868 Arica Earthquake
The Arica earthquake happened on August 13th, 1864, in Arica, Peru (now part of Chile). It was estimated to be an 8.5 or 9.0 magnitude earthquake, and multiple tsunamis were reported due to the earthquake, in Japan, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Australia. The earthquake devastated Southern Peru, and drove three ships in the harbor almost half a mile inland. There were over 25,000 reported casualties overall.
1977 Andhra Pradesh Cyclone
The Andhra Pradesh cyclone formed on November 11th, 1977, and was known as India’s first super cyclonic storm. The island of Diviseema, was hit by a 19 foot high storm surge, which instantly killed thousands, and left bodies floating in the water along with the debris. Landslides ripped off the railway lines in the Waltair-Kirandal route, and crops were wiped out by tsunamis. Thirteen ships went missing in the storm. About 100 villages left without aid, or were completely washed away by the cyclonic storms and the ensuing floods. A total of 10,841 people were reported killed or missing, however According to the Janata party, at least 50,000 people were believed to have been killed by the storm, substantially higher than reported by the government. In the wake of the disaster, officials in India were accused of covering up the scale of damage and loss of life and claimed that the cover up was to hide criminal negligence which resulted in tens of thousands of fatalities. Following these accusations, five high-ranking government officials resigned from their positions.
1999 Vargas Tragedy
On December 15, 1999, The Vargs state of Venezuela was struck with torrential rainstorms, flash flooding and mudslides, which killed 10,000 people. The unusually wet December poured 36 inches of rain in just a few days, which triggering soil instability and debris flow. The neighborhood of Los Corales was buried under nine feet of mud, and countless homes were simply swept away to the ocean. Whole towns like Cerro Grande and Carmen de Uria completely disappeared. Ten percent of the population of the Vargas state perished during this event.
The #power of nature is captivating. As modern society advances, we feel as we control more and more every day. Perhaps having an element in our lives that we cannot control will give us more purpose and meaning to our lives, and keep us balanced. No matter how hard we try to control everything, nature is one thing that is always bigger than us.
Everybody loves a good tabletop game. From huge RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, to classics like Monopoly and Yahtzee, nothing can compare to an evening spent with good friends and a board game. As our modern lives get busier, it is often hard to make time in our schedules for tabletop gaming with friends. Well, here’s a place that has done all the arrangements for us. Check out Guardian Games.
Guardian Games is an enormous game store in Portland, Oregon. It has thousands of tabletop games to purchase, and tons of games to try out free in the store, with plenty of tables set up to be used for gameplay. And that’s not all. What about coffee, beer, and pizza to keep you energized while you play? Their on-site bar, called “The Critical Sip,” sells tap beers, ales, and the like. You can show up with your friends, or meet some new pals. There’s no better way to start a new friendships with like-minded nerds than with a good tabletop match.
Is this the up and coming future of tabletop gaming? Will a store like Guardian Games be coming to your town soon? I surely hope so. Imagine a place where anyone could go and buy any game on a whim, or just hang out with fellow nerds and enjoy games, drinks and quality time. Not only would this be fun, but playing tabletop games is healthy and engaging for the mind, and spending real time with friends creates tangible community and lasting connections.
What do you think? Do you see a future for the tabletop community in places like this?
There are few things in life that inspire us as much as a good mystery. That’s why phrases like “lost city”, “buried treasure” and “vanished” are so enticing. They keep us wondering, knee deep in childlike inquiries. Legends and myths, such as Atlantis, Pompeii and El Dorado, cities that slipped into the sea or were devoured by volcanoes, fill us with questions. What were the cities like before? What would they look like if we found them now? Are the legends true? Germany has one such myth: the city called Rungholt.
According to legends, Rungholt was a bustling port city, trading in agriculture, cattle, and amber. Ships were coming out and in daily, ferrying goods from the city to other parts the world. Merchants sold fresh fish, nets, and oysters on the bustling boardwalk, while taverns, brothels, street musicians, temples and inns were abundant downtown, hosting all types of weary travelers, soldiers, and traders. Located in the North Frisian coastal range, Rungholt was a hub for commerce and trade. It is said to have had between 1,000 and 3,000 permanent citizens. The people in Rungholt did well for themselves. The port made the city wealthy, and there was enough income, guests, and amusement to keep the town lively. Everything was right in the world.
“around the hour of vespers on that day, dreadful storms and whirlwinds such as never been seen or heard before occurred in England, causing houses and buildings for the most part to come crashing to the ground, while some others, having had their roofs blown off by the force of the winds, were left in the ruined state; and fruit trees in gardens and other places, along with other trees standing in the woods and elsewhere, were wrenched from the earth by their roots with a great crash, as if the Day of Judgement were at hand, and fear and trembling gripped the people of England to such an extent that no one knew where he could safely hide, for church towers, windmills, and many dwelling-houses collapsed to the ground.”
An immense storm on the North Sea swept far inland, greatly changing the shape of coastlines, and rearranging islands. The water came so far in, it completely redesigned the shoreline, flinging mainland out to sea, creating new land masses, and erasing islands, towns and districts off the map. Rungholt, the port city, and all of its inhabitants, were swallowed by the sea, never to be heard from again. This storm, “the great drowning of men” is estimated to have killed at least 25,000 people in one night.
This Rungholt legend has entranced people for decades, sometimes even being called “The Atlantis of the North Sea.” It was written about in the ballad “Trutz, Blankenhans“, in 1882, by the poet Detlev von Liliencron:
Over the centuries the legends around Rungholt have grown. It is said now that the downfall of the city was a punishment of God for their sinful choices and disrespectful life towards the Church. The wealth of the city has also gotten more and more extravagant as the story has grown, as has the size of the city. Some say it is a ghost city, and during the times when the tempests are appeased in the North Sea, it is possible to hear the bells of the church rise up from beneath the waves. While research has yielded actual insights into the existence of this mystical place since the last century, the legend continues to exist today in movies, novels, and songs.
Scientist and Archaeologist have tried to reconstruct the existence of Rungholt based on some less-than-concrete evidence. In 1636, a cartographer named Johannes Meyer made a map featuring Rungholt, however, he had not seen this fabled city, he had only only referenced another map, from 1240. An agreement between two traders from Rungholt and Hamburg was also found, dated 1361. There were also several artifacts pulled from the Wadden Sea between Between 1880 and 1940, including bricks, swords, pottery, bones, and even a skull. It is believed these are connected to the lost city from so many years ago.
These and other indications, such as wells and a lock discovered in the Wadden sea, suggest to the investigators that Rungholt was a real city, and a thriving port up until the storm of 1392, however, the legend of Germanic Atlantis survives. There is not enough concrete evidence to verify scientifically the existence of this mysterious city; At the same time, the existing indications are signs that it is not just a local legend. For now, Rungholt remains a true mystery.
Man’s Best Friend, the loyal and dependable dog. From Golden Retriever, to the little Welsh Corgi, we all have a lovable pooch in our life. Dogs today are used mainly as companions, however, when these dogs were first bred, it was hardly for good looks and friendship. Lets talk about what these special 25 breeds were first created for.
A beloved lap dog, these adorable short legged, big eared dogs were originally bred as herding dogs, specifically for cattle. They would chase after the large animals, keeping them on the move by nipping at their heels. Their low height and their ability to dodge made them ideal in this occupation, as they could move fast and avoid being kicked and stepped on by the cattle.
Portuguese Water Dog
The Portuguese water dog was originally bred by fisherman, to dive into the water and retrieve nets, carry messages between boats, and herd fish. Once serving as crew on fishing trips, he is now a lovable family companion, but still retains his love for the water!
Another pampered lapdog of today was originally bred for some not-so-glamorous work! Scottish weavers and miners were sick of rats invading their work spaces, so they created this small and feisty breed of dog to chase rodents out of their coal mines and work areas. Yorkies were also used in hunting, to burrow underground after badgers and foxes.
Dachshund, also known as “Wiener Dogs,” may look like small, unassuming lapdogs, but were originally bred to hunt down, chase, and flush out burrow-dwelling animals like badgers and rabbits. In the United States, they have also been used to track deer and hunt prairie dogs, having been known to track wounded animals for days without giving up.
Lhasa Apso and Tibetan Mastiff
Now known a lovable lapdog and a fuzzy gentle giant, The Lhasa Apso and Tibetan Mastiff once worked together as an unlikely team to guard Buddhist monasteries. The Lhasa Apso was the sentinel, his keen hearing and loud bark served as a burglar alarm if an intruder got past the outer guards.
The Tibetan Mastiff assisted with keeping the temple secure, while the Lhasa Apso supplied the bark, alerting officials to intruders, the Mastiff would supply the bite if needed, or simply scare the intruders out of the building!
Often known as the “Apollo of dog breeds,” an adult Great Dane can weigh anywhere between 120 and 200 pounds, and averaging between 30 to 34 inches on its four legs. These gentle giants are treated as lovable family pets today, but were originally bred as prestigious guardians of rich estates and carriages. They were also popular with the upper class for sport, as few other dog breeds could take down a wild boar!
Poodles may seem like sort of prissy dogs, however they were first bred to jump in ponds and lakes to retrieve birds that were shot by their masters. This is where the classic “poodle cut” comes from, their coat would get heavy when wet, so all of it would get sheared except what was necessary to keep the dog warm. The Poodle quickly became popular in France, the country with which it’s still often associated. It’s a very capable working dog, but today is mostly a show dog and lap dog.
Today the Golden Retriever is the third most popular family dog in the United States. However, they were originally bred in Scotland when bird hunting was a popular sport for the wealthy Scottish upper class. The Golden Retriever was bred as a “gun dog” to retrieve ducks and upland game birds during hunting and shooting parties. They were prized because of their ability to retrieve from land and water without damaging the game.
The Komondor, also known as The Hungarian Sheepdog (or appropriately, the “mop dog”) has been declared one of Hungary’s national treasures. It is a great family dog, and has a natural instinct to guard livestock and property. Its original role was protecting sheep and livestock in its native country of Hungary, and its thick, unique dreadlock-like coat rendered bites from predators far less damaging, as the wild beasts frequently tangled their jaws in its hair! The Komondor didn’t typically herd the animals it protected in a usual way, instead, it ran with the livestock to blend in, surprising predators and giving itself an even greater defensive advantage.
With almost supernatural tracking abilities, the Bloodhound is known as one of the best dogs for tracking scents, and has been used for tracking deer, boar and people since the 9th century. Even today, the bloodhound is used by police and military to track missing persons, inmates, and animals.
Now known as a gentle giant, these huge dogs are great, lovable family dogs. They were bred in the 17th century by monks at the Hospice of Saint Bernard to guard their compound, but also to find travelers lost in the Swiss Alps. They were created to be large enough to traverse deep snow, but were also bred to have an exceptional sense of smell to locate lost travelers.
Today, the Airedale is used as a family dog and therapy dog in nursing homes and hospitals. However it was bred for much fiercer purposes! The Airedale was created to be a hunting dog, with the persistence and toughness to go after everything from rats to mountain lions. The Airedale was used in World War I to carry messages to soldiers behind enemy lines and transport mail. They were also used by the Red Cross to find wounded soldiers on the battlefield. There are numerous stories of Airedales delivering their messages despite horrible injury. An Airedale named ‘Jack’ ran through half a mile of enemy fire, with a message attached to his collar. He arrived at his destination with a broken jaw and broken leg, and right after he delivered the message, he dropped dead. The Airedale often performed search and rescue for law enforcement as well, before the German Shepherd filled this role.
These amazing “firehouse dogs” have a natural affinity with horses, and were easily trained to work alongside firemen and horse-drawn fire engines in the 19th century. Dalmatians were trained to run in front of the carriages to help clear a path and quickly guide the horses and firefighters to the fires. Today these dogs make intelligent, playful, energetic pets, and great guard dogs.
Now known as cuddly, furry, family dogs, the Alaskan Malamute was bred for working and hunting, with the ability to hunt large predators such as bears. Early Eskimos relied on Alaskan Malamutes to pull sleds full of people and important cargo such as medicine and food across snowy landscapes in cold and blizzard conditions.
The Doberman is a fast, intelligent dog used still today in many places as a guard dog. Doberman Pinschers were first bred in Germany around 1890, by Karl Friedrich Louis Dobermann, who served in the dangerous role of local tax collector. He wanted to create a breed that would be ideal for keeping him safe during his collections, which took him through many dangerous areas. During World War II, the United States Marine Corps adopted the Doberman as its official War Dog.
Greyhounds today are prized for their amazing racing ability, and retired greyhounds are loved as family pets. However, greyhounds were originally bred as hunting dogs, not for their great sense of smell, but for their eyesight and speed, which allowed them to chase fast-moving prey like deer.
Now the cuddly, furry eared lap dogs, Cocker Spaniels were originally bred for the single purpose of hunting the Eurasian woodcock in the United Kingdom. Being a small dog, the Cocker Spaniel was very good at running into brush to scare a woodcock into taking flight. It also has a strong retriever instinct, to find the bird and bring it back to its owner.
Collies are intelligent and gentle and make great family pets. They were first bred as herding dogs, designed to keep animals in specific spaces, such as sheep and ducks.
Pugs were first bred in China and brought to England, where they were popular in Queen Victoria’s court as a companion dog. They were one of very few dogs to be created simply as a companion dog, and are still used for that purpose today.
The Labrador Retriever is one of the most popular family pets in the United Kingdom and United States. Now used for disability, search and rescue, and therapy applications, they were first bred in the 1830 to retrieve birds that were shot down into the water, as they have amazing retriever and swimming abilities.
Bulldogs are now primarily family dogs, known to form especially strong bonds with children. However, The designation “bull” in their name was originally added because of the dog’s use in the sport of “bull baiting.” This sport involved the letting loose of dogs onto a bull that was tethered to a pole. It was common for a bull to maim or kill several dogs during this, either by goring, tossing, or trampling. After bull baiting and bear baiting sports were outlawed in England in 1835, it stopped making sense to breed this weird dog, however a few decades later, various dog breeders began to emulate the physical traits of Bulldogs. From those newer Bulldogs come our modern Bulldogs today.
The beagle is a cute, sweet dog, and is an excellent family dog with a great temperament. It also is a great scent hound, bred primarily for hunting rabbits. It’s not a very fast runner, but still pretty good at hunting small game, and a great hunting companion.
A fairly new dog breed, the smart and loyal German Shepherd was bred to (you guessed it) herd and tend grazing sheep. Today, the German shepherd has been trained to do many other things, such as search and rescue, police operations and disability occupations, and is known as one of the smartest and most trainable dogs.
Rottweilers are beloved parts of our family, smart, loyal, and trainable. They were originally dogs bred to drive cattle to market. Later they were used to pull carts for butchers. They were among the earliest police dogs and currently serve with honor in the military.
What do you think of when you hear the phrase “Future Tech” or “Science Fiction Technology?” Humanoid robots walking the streets? Genetic engineering? How about life in space?
Today we’re looking at science fiction technology that was once just a fantasy, that is now part of our daily life. We are also going to take a peek at some of our favorite sci-fi tech, and see how close it is to being a reality. So buckle up!
Believe it or not, credit cards were first mentioned in science fiction. You might expect that the person who envisioned the credit card to be a genius businessman or bank executive of some sort, however the person who first developed the idea of the modern credit card system was a Utopian science fiction author Edward Bellamy. His novel, Looking Backward, made some very accurate descriptions about how the credit card system would currently work today, even down to the concept of one receipt for the store owner and one receipt for the consumer. His book, written in 1888, and the idea that you could simply take a card into a store, swipe it, and have the item paid for was, well, science fiction. During this time, “credit” only existed as a method for stores to allow certain buyers to purchase extra items.
… a credit card issued him with which he procures at the public storehouses, found in every community, whatever he desires whenever he desires it. This arrangement, you will see, totally obviates the necessity for business transactions of any sort between individuals and consumers.
Nuclear weapons are a staple story point in science fiction novels. Similar to “credit card”, the phrase “atomic bomb” predates the actual weapon, used in 1945. This phrase is first mentioned in H. G. Wells‘ The World Set Free, published in 1914, in which scientists make the discovery that radioactive decay implies potentially limitless energy locked inside of atomic particles. Robert A. Heinlein also wrote about atomic weapons in his 1940 book Solution Unsatisfactory, which poses radioactive dust as a weapon that the US develops to end World War II, however, the dust’s existence brings drastic changes into the postwar world. Cleve Cartmill predicted a chain-reaction-type nuclear bomb in his 1944 science fiction story Deadline, which led to the FBI showing up on his front porch, over concern there may have been a potential breach of security on the Manhattan Project.
In Ray Bradbury‘s Fahrenheit 451, earbuds were described for the first time. Mildred relies on little “seashells” to sleep. She puts them in her ears, and they constantly plays music, entertainment, news, and talk radio. They are described just like earbuds, but wireless, and Bradbury refers to them as Seashells.
“The little mosquito-delicate dancing hum in the air, the electrical murmur of a hidden wasp snug in its special pink warm nest. The music was almost loud enough so he could follow the tune. And in her ears the little Seashells, the timble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming on on the shore of her unsleeping mind.” -Farenheight 451
Inspired by Captain Kirk’s hand-held Starfleet communicator on Star Trek, Martin Cooper, decided to develop a hand-held mobile phone. We have seen many improvements to the cell phone since Cooper’s first prototype in 1973 which weighed two and a half pounds, and there are now a registered 6.8 billion cell phone subscriptions active.
We have discussed a few things that science fiction has inspired in the past. Let’s check out the future.
Genetic Modification In Humans
Is Genetic Engineering still something only of science fiction? “Genetic engineering” or “Genetic modification” is the process of adding or modifying DNA to an organism to bring about a change to the structure and nature of genes, using techniques like molecular cloning and transformation. This is currently being done in food (often known as GMOs), has been successfully tested in animals, and is now the discussion for human genetic modification is open.
There are many important things to consider when discussing all the possibilities genetic engineering could bring. People from all different fields, faiths and backgrounds weigh in on this issue, with many ideas and concerns. The standstill to actually begin trials is more on a moral level than scientific level.
Some amazing scientific leaps could be made through genetic engineering, such as eradicating deadly diseases. Genetic mutations would be able to replace bad genes with correctly functioning copies. For instance, Tay-Sachs, a terrible and incurable disease could be completely wiped out with the help of selective genetic engineering. Genetic engineering could potentially get rid of all diseases in unborn children. There are illnesses that doctors can foresee your child will suffer from in the womb, such as Down’s Syndrome and sickle cell disease. Genetic Engineering would help all babies be born strong and healthy, and could stop the passing on of hereditary diseases such as Huntington’s disease, which children have a 50-percent chance of developing and passing along to their own children if one of their parents has it. Genetic Modification could also exponentially increase the human lifespan. Once the full understanding of genetics and aging is realized, it may be possible to slow down some of the cellular mechanisms that lead to our body’s degeneration.
However, there are some major concerns with the topic of genetic modification in humans as well. Scientist do not know everything about the way a human body functions yet, and so making changes on a cellular level may lead to genetic defects. What if we wipe out one disease, only to introduce something even more deadly? If scientists genetically engineer babies in the womb, there is still a possibility that this could lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or a premature birth. The human body is so complicated that scientists simply cannot account for everything that could go wrong. Also, is genetic engineering right? Many people believe it is like playing God. Besides religious objections, there are a number of ethical objections. If we eradicate all disease, this will lead to an overpopulation of the earth, according to some. Longer lifespans would also cause more social problems down the line. The most important question to ask with genetic engineering is, “will it go too far?” It could be used to stop diseases and give humans better quality of life, however, where does the research end? There has already been talk of “designer babies,” in which you are given the option to choose the hair color, eye color, height, intelligence, skill set, and sex of your child. Is this right and fair?
Writer Dinesh D’Souza states his position on this in a 2001 National Review Online article:
“If parents are able to remake a child’s genetic makeup, they are in a sense writing the genetic instructions that shape his entire life. If my parents give me blue eyes instead of brown eyes, if they make me tall instead of medium height, if they choose a passive over an aggressive personality, their choices will have a direct, lifelong effect on me.”
There is a lot to think about when it comes to the possibilities of genetic engineering in the future. I don’t think you’ll be needing to worry about “clones” like in The Island showing up at your door, but as science advances, possibilities in genetic engineering become a real issue, with both pros and cons needing to be heartily examined.
Life in Space
‘The way species get endangered and wiped out is by being dependent on a limited environment. Humanity started in East Africa and now live on literally every continent – even Antarctica – albeit for a small time. We live in snow, jungle, deserts, savannahas, forests; we have spread out about as far as we can spread out, and the next step is to move to space.’ – Dr. Al Globus
Dr. Al Globus, a contractor at NASA, believes humanity may not be far from having the technology to build human colonies in space. The International Space Station currently houses six astronauts at a time, ideally a space colony would have hundreds or even thousands of people on board. Many designs of a “space settlement” rely on a central cylinder, around which is a rotating living space. The force of rotation provides artificial gravity for the humans on board.
Dr. Globus believes the space colony could be potentially feasible by the end the century, if major national disasters are avoided. However a number of important obstacles that would need to be overcome first, before these settlements would be able to be built. First of all, the cost of getting rockets to space is too high to ferry hundreds or thousands of people up to the stars. The cost of rockets, fuel, and getting to space must decrease. Secondly, there needs to be a way that the space colony can be self-sufficient, using indoor farms and solar energy. This will also be very, very expensive, but the price could be paid either through “space tourism” or by all the nations of the world banding together to focus on the common goal of getting to the stars.
So life in space may not be in the cards for us, but perhaps for our children. I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
Sentient Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence. How could we discuss future tech without talking about AI?
Humans have always been wondering about sentient robots. Will robots ever get smarter than humans? Will they decide to wipe us off the map? Maybe they are already here, like Cylons from Battlestar Galactica, and we just haven’t noticed them yet!
If you worry about artificial intelligence taking over the world, you’re in good company. Speaking at the Zeitgeist 2015 conference in London, Steven Hawking said:
“Computers will overtake humans with AI at some within the next 100 years. When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours.”
Elon Musk, inventor of Tesla Motors, agreed with him and had this to say:
However, some people disagree, for example, in Anil Ananthaswamy’s New Scientist article titled “Sentient Robots? Not Possible If You Do The Maths” He argues that robots will never be sentient, according to a study of a mathematical model of how our brains create consciousness.
However, there’s no doubt that future AI will have the ability to do great damage. For example, an unconstrained virus spreading throughout the whole internet, or machines programmed to set off atomic weapons, and so on. Some people have other worries, like artificial intelligence stealing our jobs. In Martin Ford’s book “Rise of the Robots” he talks about a jobless future where AI have overhauled the economy.
I see the advances happening in technology and it’s becoming evident that computers, machines, robots, and algorithms are going to be able to do most of the routine, repetitive types of jobs. That’s the essence of what machine learning is all about. What types of jobs are on some level fundamentally predictable? A lot of different skill levels fall into that category. It’s not just about lower-skilled jobs either. People with college degrees, even professional degrees, people like lawyers are doing things that ultimately are predictable. A lot of those jobs are going to be susceptible over time.
So what does our future look like with artificial intelligence? We build more and more advanced AI every day.
One of the world’s most lifelike androids was built by Japanese designer Hiroshi Ishiguroand is named Geminoid F. She can smile, blink, furrow her brows, talk and even sing. She is able to mimic human expressions due to the 12 motorized actuators in her face, and she was so convincing she was cast as an actress in a Tokyo play.
With recent technological as well as automotive advances, Uber, Google, Tesla and more have all been working on self-piloting cars. The AI that drives these vehicles will work alongside with multiple sensors, radars, and lasers to drive the vehicle, accelerate when needed, brake at the right places and stop when the car arrives. These vehicles can spot objects as far as two football fields away and make calculated turns. AI cars have an advantage over human-driven ones as they will have a 360-degree view of the surroundings from the dome on top of the vehicle.
Amazon is making use of AI technology in many of its warehouses in the U.S. where human and artificial intelligence work hand in hand to dispatch over 1.5 million packages each day. The need to deliver the right products to right customers in the fastest time has made way for artificial intelligence to come to the forefront in warehousing, logistics, and soon, delivery. Amazon is excited about their “Prime Air”, where they boast, “a delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones. Prime Air has great potential to enhance the services we already provide to millions of customers by providing rapid parcel delivery that will also increase the overall safety and efficiency of the transportation system.”
So what does our future look like with advanced artificial intelligence? Will robot overlords overthrow us and take over? Will they take our jobs and enslave us? Only time will tell, I suppose. For now, I suppose I’ll enjoy my Amazon two day shipping. Thanks, robots!