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Education

People in the 1900s made some wild predictions about the future—but they weren't all wrong

11 fantastical predictions too outlandish to be true. And 3 that totally came true.

future predictions

French drawing series on scientific progress about the year 2000

Do you ever wonder what the future used to look like?

I mean back in the day, before we all walked around with glass bricks in our pockets that contained every piece of information that's ever been available and allowed us to connect with anyone anywhere in the world in real time. What did people from more than 100 years ago think our future might look like?

That was the question posed to French commercial artist Jean-Marc Côté in 1899. Côté and his team were commissioned to create a series of cards to commemorate the 1900 world's fair, "Exposition Universelle," in Paris, featuring images of how the world might look in the then-distant future of the year 2000. Sadly, the company that commissioned the project (which was likely either a toy or cigarette manufacturer) went out of business before the cards could actually be distributed, and the images remained out of print until author Isaac Asimov rediscovered and published them with accompanying commentary in 1986.

But now that we've lived through that fantastical future, how did these predictions turn out? Let's just say there was, um, a lot of creativity on display. Which is enough to make even the most flawed of these forecasts — of which there are many — even more fascinating to think about today.

Here are 11 delightfully inaccurate visions of the year 2000, according to artists from the late-19th century:

1. Prediction: Firefighters will fly around with batwings on.

This one didn't pan out ... unless maybe Côté was just trying to predict the creation of Batman?

firefighters, future, artist, imagination

Flying firefighters in artist rendering from the 1900 world's fair.

All images by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

2. Prediction: We'll all travel across the Atlantic in these sweet-lookin' blimp-boats.

Again, not spot on ... although to be fair, I'd prefer this to ever flying standby again.

technology, predictions, artist, world's fair 1900

It's a flying blimp boat.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

3. Prediction: We will domesticate whales and use them as transportation.

Nope. If only we'd spent half of the 20th century training whales instead of killing them.(Although there is that dolphin chillin' there, and dolphin-assisted childbirthis a thing that exists in the 21st century, for better or for worse.)

whales, transportation, imagination, future predictions

A drawing of a dolphin looking at a whale bus.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

4. Prediction: We will also domesticate giant mutant seahorses.

There's a slight chance all this weird aquatic stuff was their way of warning us about the impending threat of sea-level rise from climate change. Either that or they were warning us about the general existence of Aquaman.

fanciful drawing, seahorse, mutation, future tripping

Drawing of scuba divers riding giant seahorses.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

5. Prediction: We'll be hunting seagulls ... from underwater?

Not so correct. But maybe I'm wrong, and we've been overlooking the nutritional value of seagulls for the last century. (Also, why is that woman swimming in a dress?)

seagulls, divers, cartoon, 1900

Divers attract seagulls from underwater in future prediction drawing.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

6. Prediction: Flying cars will be a thing.

While this image does resemble the traffic outside the Paris Opera just before showtime, our automobiles are unfortunately still stuck on the ground. It does go to show, however, that humans have been obsessed with the idea of flying cars for a long time.

flying cars, predictions, painting, world's fair, 1900

A painting of flying cars.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

7. Prediction: Aerial wing-flapping hover cars will be our key mode of transportation.

Although perhaps it's only a matter of time until "Uber for aerial wing-flapping hover cars" becomes a thing.

Hopefully, by the time this happens, that orange aerial wing-flapping hover car on the right will learn how to fly without slicing her wings through the other aero-cabs on the stand.

cars of the future, artist predictions, 1900, 2000,

Wing-flapping cars cruise around the city.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

8. Prediction: Automated bathrooms will make our lives much easier.

As clever as today's smart homes are, we still haven't quite figured out how to create a fully-automated bathroom like this. The few failed attempts that have been made at creating robot lipstick applicators were all much less elegant, and much less steampunk.

automated, home, convenience, painting

Woman gets dressed in automated bathroom.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

9. Prediction: Our hardworking barbers and salon specialists will be replaced by robots.

I'm OK with this one not panning out because I'm just not ready to trust an automated tree of spider arms to use sharp objects near my head.

robots, barber, technology, advancement, society

Robots do the work of a barber.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

10. Prediction: Our education system will become way more high tech.

While this one is utterly incorrect on a literal level, the image itself works pretty well as a metaphor for our modern education system. Whether that's a good or a bad thing is entirely up to you. (Although we do have EEG technology today, which isn't so different from those helmets...)

school, education, technology, computers

Students learn with technology if futuristic rendering from the 1900 world's fair.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

11. Prediction: radium.

That's scary. It might help if you wanted to breed a race of ginormous seahorses ... but probably isn't safe to keep in the fireplace as your main source of heat.

radium, future fuels, family, convenience

People relax around a radium fueled fireplace.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

Not all of these future visions were as ridiculously off-the-mark as the ones above though.In fact, here are three more that were downright prescient.

1. Prediction: We'll communicate via video chatting.

They totally called the invention of FaceTime/Google Hangouts/every other video chatting service that I use on a daily basis.To be honest, I kinda wish I had a holographic phonograph setup like this. It's way cooler than just staring at my laptop screen all day. (Also I wish I had a sweet mustache like these dudes.)

video chat, computers, technology, drawings

People communicate through a predicted version of video chat.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

2. Prediction: We'll see the rise of a mobile society that's not locked into a single location.

Sure, on an overly-literal level, this is basically just a glorified mobile home — which is kind of ironic considering how mobile homes in America are more commonly associated with lower incomes than the wealth that this image depicts.

mobil homes, community, travel, future

A drawing of a future prototype mobile home.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

But more importantly, images like this — and the one below, which accurately predicts the rise of electric trains that have helped to enable more public mass transportation — show that these French thinkers were looking forward to a more adaptable and international society. Telecommuting, remote offices, cross-continental teleconferencing, even the idea of transient living through AirBnB — that's where we are today, and it's exactly where we wanted to be at the turn of the 20th century. And that's pretty freaking cool!

(There's also probably an argument to be made that this electric train suggests a greener and less coal-dependent future, which is cool too.)

electric train, travel, technology, predictions

People board an artist drawing of a futuristic electric train.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

3. Prediction: The future will be full of automated industry.

Today, automation and industrialization can be touchy subjects. Are they responsible for job loss? Do they rely too much on questionable cost-cutting practices, such as artificial ingredients and other structural shortcuts?

Those are all important issues to address. But the future portrayed in these images reminds us of the inherent optimism of industry and progress — something that's all too easy for us to ignore today.

farming, industrial, prototypes, jobs, community

A picture of a possible future with industrialized farming.

Image by Jean-Marc Côté/Wikimedia Commons.

See how happy this guy is? He's not freaking out over (and alternately consuming) pesticides and chemicals for the sake of mass production. He's got a big ol' farm, and technology is helping him to make more stuff — and make it fast, so he can sell it and make money and support his family and all that good stuff we like to talk about when we talk about jobs.

Sure, maybe modern factory farming does deserve its less-than-stellar reputation. But at the same time, it's all too easy for us to forget the amazing headway in the creation of life. Now, we can even 3D print ovaries to induce fertility. Think about how amazing that would have seemed in 1899.

And on that note, maybe we should also celebrate the fact that we can 3D print a freaking house today. For all the very real problems that we face in the modern world, technology like that still makes a major difference in a lot of people's lives.

Also these brilliant French futurists clearly foretold of the rise of the almighty Roomba, which is just wonderful on so many levels.

As fun as it is to look and laugh at the imagined futures of the past, this is also a really cool way of evaluating where we are today — and where else we need to go.

It's kind of like writing out your own personal five-year plan ... envisioning the future still makes it easier for us to map out how to get there. Sure, it might not look exactly as you'd hoped — after all, you can't predict every random roadblock you might hit along the way. But it still helps to have some idea of where you're going.

The future is happening all around us, every single day — sometimes so much and so fast that we don't even notice.

Between improving factory farm conditions and domesticating those giant radioactive seahorses, there's obviously still a lot to be done.

Instead of letting ourselves become jaded with the growth we take for granted, maybe this is evidence that we should all try to look back at where we came from, evaluate and celebrate just how far we've come, and figure out a plan to keep moving forward.

This article originally appeared on 08.10.16

Sandhya with other members at a home meet-up

South Asian women across the country are finding social support in a thriving Facebook group devoted to them.

The Little Brown Diary has over 40,000 members, primarily between the ages of 20 and 40, and 100 subgroups devoted to niche topics. Some of these include mental health, entrepreneurship, career advice, and more.

Members of the group can discuss their experiences as South Asians, inner conflicts they face, and even bond over their favorite hobbies. The Facebook group has become a safe place for many of its members to find support in the most transformative periods of their lives. These include:

  • Supporting women in domestic violence and sexual assault circumstances
  • Sharing mental health and suicide resources
  • Connecting members to support each other through grief and loss
  • Helping members find the strength to get a divorce or defend their decision to be childfree
  • Helping them navigate career changes
  • Helping to find friends in a new city
  • Finding a community of other neurodivergent people in their shoes

“I joined the online community because I was looking for that sense of belonging and connection with others who shared similar experiences and backgrounds,” expressed Sandhya Simhan, one of the group admins.

“At the time, I was pregnant and eager to find other desi moms who could offer support, advice, and friendship during this significant life transition,” she says.

Another group admin, Henna Wadhwa, who works in Diversity and Inclusion in Washington, D.C., even uses the group to inspire new areas of research, including a study on ethnic-racial identity at work.

“I was surprised and excited for a group that brought together South Asian/brown women. I wanted to meet other women with similar research interests and who wanted to conduct academic research on South Asian American women,” Wadhwa says.


While social media isn’t always the best place to spend our time, studies show that the sense of community people get from joining online groups can be valuable to our mental health.

“The presence of LBD has allowed so many South Asian women to truly feel safe in their identity. The community we have built encourages each person to authentically and freely be themselves. It is a powerful sight to witness these South Asian women be vulnerable, break barriers, and support each other in their journeys,” says Wadhwa.

Hena and Neesha

According to an article in Psychology Today, a study on college students looked at whether social media could serve as a source of social support in times of stress. Turns out, these students were more likely to turn to their social media network rather than parents or mental health professionals for connection. The anonymity of virtual communities was also seen as appealing to those experiencing depression.

“The social support received in the online group promotes a sense of well-being and was associated with positive relationships and personal growth,” the article states.

This is why finding a community of like-minded individuals online can have such a positive impact in your life.

“There are almost half a million women in our target audience (millennial South Asians in North America) and about 10% of them are part of LBD. It’s been a game-changer for our community. LBD is all about embracing your true self and living your most authentic life. It's amazing to see how the members support, relate, learn, and lift each other,” says Wadhwa and Simhan.

Pop Culture

'Britain's Got Talent' contestant blew Simon Cowell away singing a song he 'hates'

Her heartfelt version of "Tomorrow" brought people to tears—and completely changed Simon's tune.

Sydnie Christmas nailed her rendition of "Tomorrow" from "Annie"

Contestants on "Britain's Got Talent" (as well as "American Idol" and "America's Got Talent") have long feared Simon Cowell's judgment, so imagine auditioning with a song choice that automatically brings out his sour side.

That's what contestant Sydnie Christmas did when she chose to sing "Tomorrow" from the musical "Annie," which is Simon Cowell's least favorite song. But much to everyone's surprise, she totally blew him away with her beautiful soulful rendition, causing him to change his tune.

Before performing, Christmas bounded onto the stage with her genuine smile and spunky energy, which endeared her to the judges and audience immediately. She even cracked a joke about her middle name being "Mary" (Sydnie Mary Christmas would be quite the name choice) and got everyone laughing with her.


However, when she announced she'd be singing "Tomorrow," Cowell winced and the other judges groaned.

"That is Simon's worst song," warned judge Amanda Holden.

But when Christmas, who works as a receptionist at a gym, began to sing, it soon became clear that this wasn't an ordinary rendition of the musical classic. Soulful, heartfelt, sad but hopeful, she built the song up bit by bit, bringing the audience along with her on an emotional ride.

Watch:

Not only did she get the coveted Golden Buzzer, but she also managed to get Simon Cowell to say he now loves the song he said he'd hated just minutes before. Viewers loved it, too.

"That was the first time I could take this song serious. Before today I hated it, too," wrote one person.

"When they say you have to make the song your own, she did just that. I have never heard a better version," wrote another.

"Absolutely beautiful; love how the word “tomorrow” always sounded unique EVERY TIME! Listened over and over…" added another.

"I've heard that song a million times and she REALLY got the poignancy of it," shared another. "It is a sad song, but a song of hope, and it is hard to walk that line and she KILLED IT. It's not just about her voice, it is how she sold that song."

She even pulled in people from various walks of life, moving them with her performance:

"I'm a 60 year old highway worker. Just got off work and my wife sent this to me. What I'm trying to figure out is who's been cutting onions in my vehicle? Seriously, teared me up. This took me COMPLETELY off guard and I am so delighted to have experienced this diamond!"

"41 year old hip hop head here and never did I think I would be touched like this. The sound of suffering with a glimmer of hope in the sound. Who is cutting onions at this time."

"I’m a 60 year old builder sitting in my van having lunch. I just watched this. The guys in the next van are taking the P coz I’m crying my eyes out! Brilliant!"

As someone named Annie, I've had "Tomorrow" sung to me countless times over the years, so I shared Simon Cowell's initial grimace upon hearing what she was going to sing. But I too was moved by Christmas's performance and gained a whole new appreciation for the song after her gorgeous rendition. Not an easy feat. What a delightful surprise for us all.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Family

30 simple, active learning games parents can play with kids that don't involve screens

People are loving these fun, wholesome ideas to get kids' bodies and brains moving.

Whole-body movement is good for children's development.

As every parent knows, kids have energy for days, and figuring out how to channel and focus that energy to preserve your home and your sanity can be a formidable challenge.

Sending kids outside when they're bouncing off the walls usually works, but that's not always an option. Often when kids are stuck inside, we resort to screens (which can overstimulate their sensory system) or calm indoor games (which don't stimulate their energetic bodies). Both have their place but aren't great for getting the wiggles out.

That's why parents are loving a viral video that demonstrates 30 simple, fun parent-child activities and games, combining full-body movement with fun challenges that stimulate both the body and the brain.


The video, shared on Facebook by Simple Life, has 55 million views and thousands of comments from parents praising the way it shows parents and kids doing fun, healthy, educational activities together without a screen in sight. And the best part is that most of them require simple props parents likely have around the house or that are easy and inexpensive to find.

For instance, in one game, a parent stands on a stool and tosses a tissue for a child to catch. Super simple, but tissues fall in unpredictable ways, so it requires a child to use their hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes.

Another example is a parent facing away from a child and tossing soft balls or stuffed animals behind them, with the child catching the items in a basket. Again, super simple, but builds gross motor coordination.

Watch:

Such whole body games can help children through important developmental stages, encouraging things like bilateral and midline-crossing movements, which are activities that requires kids to reach across their body. It may seem like a simple movement, but according to occupational therapist Colleen Beck, if a child has difficulties with crossing the midline, they will demonstrate challenges in almost every functional task.

Games like those shown in the video also help kinesthetic learners, who learn best through movement and tactile activities. Kinesthetic learners retain information primarily by doing, rather than seeing or hearing. But all kids benefit from a variety of teaching approaches, so these active, hands-on games that double as skills practice are good for everyone.

So many of the activities in this video are brilliantly simple, but things most of us simply wouldn't have thought of. Dropping tiles down a wall for kids to catch? Having them pick up balls with their feet? Who would think?

Even the balloon bum-wiping lesson in the beginning is a good way to simulate a vital skill. Notice how the woman demonstrates how to fold the toilet paper? A good first step for teaching a child personal hygiene.

Finally, these ideas offer ways to bond with your kids in fun, active ways that also sneakily teach skills and encourage strong physical development. Kids get to practice accuracy, speed and agility, parents get to watch their kids improve, and everyone has a good time doing it. And a bonus in the digital age: No screens involved. It doesn't get any more win-win than that.

Carl Sagan and a sliced apple

The concept of the fourth dimension seems beyond human comprehension. As three-dimensional beings, we are unable to see beyond a physical object's height, width and depth. What else could there be?

Enter Carl Sagan, revered as one of the greatest science communicators of his time. He possessed a unique gift for demystifying complex scientific concepts, making them accessible and thrilling for the general public. In 1980, on Episode 10 of the groundbreaking PBS show “Cosmos,” Sagan embarked on a mission to explain the seemingly impossible fourth dimension.


What’s excellent about Sagan’s explanation is that he uses simple and relatable objects: an apple and a Tesseract, or a hypercube.

Sagan began by discussing how a two-dimensional being living in a flat world would perceive a three-dimensional object like an apple.

“Imagine we live in this ‘flatland’/2-D plane with no concept of ‘up’ or ‘down.’ Then along comes a 3-D object like an apple. We do not even notice it until it crosses our plane of existence — and even then, we have no idea what the apple is,” Sagan explains. “We see only a fragment as it passes through our plane. There is no way we can comprehend the 3-D quality/dimension of the apple, because it is more than we can understand. We only have the evidence of what has passed through our plane.”

Sagan then related this two-dimensional experience of the third dimension to how we might try to understand the fourth. To do so, he used the Tesseract, a four-dimensional cube, to demonstrate how difficult it is for us to perceive or visualize dimensions beyond our own three. At this point, Sagan is asking the viewer to expand their minds to understand the fourth dimension metaphorically.

Sagan’s demonstration of the fourth dimension isn’t just a wonderful explanation of a scientific idea that many of us find difficult to comprehend; it’s also a great example of how to teach complex ideas by combining clear explanations with thought-provoking visuals.

Three woman walking down city streets.

A forensics student named Alex recently shared vital information on TikTok that all women should know. She detailed the specific signs male predators are looking for when they choose a victim.

Her video is based on a 2013 study entitled “Psychopathy and Victim Selection: The Use of Gait as a Cue to Vulnerability.” For the study, researchers interviewed violent criminals in prison and asked them the type of women they’d be most likely to victimize.

The study found that the criminals all agreed that how the woman walked was a deciding factor.


“What the selected women all had in common was the way that they walked and how they generally held themselves in public,” Alex says in the video she later deleted but has been shared broadly across the platform.

@gatita_bunee

How to walk for your safety! #women #safety #tips #walking #kidnapping #murder #attacks #fyp

“The selected women all had a similar ‘awkwardness’ to the way that they walked and carried themselves,” she continued. “The first part of the woman had a gait that was a little bit too small for their body, which resulted in smaller steps, slower speed and their arms more typically to their sides, or crossed, as well as their heads being down and not really taking in their general surroundings, which indicated three different things to these potential attackers.”

The woman’s body language signaled to attackers that she was fearful and anxious and because her head was down, she'd be easier to surprise. Alex then described the second type of woman the criminals said they’d target.

“On the other hand, the other part of the women that were selected had a gait that seemed a bit too big for their body and their arms tended to flail to the sides and seemed just overly awkward,” Alex continued.

The woman with the bigger gait signaled to potential attackers that she may be clumsy and won’t put up a good fight. “Because their arms were out and flailing to the side, it left the lower body open to, again, come around and grab them,” she said.

woman walking, predators, crime

Two women walking down the street.

via Mâide Arslan/Pexels

The video was helpful because Alex also discussed the types of women the attackers wouldn’t pursue. Alex says these women “walked with a gait that tended to be more natural to their body.” She adds they moved at the same pace as those in the immediate area, with their shoulders back and chins up and asserting a general sense of confidence.

“Essentially, the women that were not selected gave off an energy that said, ‘Don’t mess with me. I will put up a good fight.’ And that’s why they weren’t selected,” Alex said. “I know that it sounds silly, but something as simple as the way you walk or the way that you carry yourself in public could determine the likelihood that you become a target of a predator.”

Alex concluded her video by sharing an acronym that can help prevent women from being victimized while in public: STAAR.

S(tride) — Walk with a natural stride to your body and not too far apart or short.

T(all) — Stand tall. Keep your shoulders back and your chin up. Assert a natural confidence and dominance to those around you.

A(rms)—Swing your arms naturally by your sides, avoiding keeping them too close to your body or flailing out of your natural range of motion.

A(wareness) — Stay aware of your surroundings. Take notice if something feels or looks off.

R(elax): Stay cool, calm, and collected and don’t indicate to a potential attacker that you feel or see something is wrong.







Mom releases perfect anthem in time for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is coming up quickly and people may be trying to figure out what to get their moms or partners for the special day. Most of the time, if you listen close enough throughout the year, you can pick up on things here and there that just might do the trick. But in case nothing is coming to mind, one mom took to the internet to release "Another Mom Anthem," that just might contain some clues on what to do for the moms in your life.

Lauren Berty, who goes by That Twin Mom on Instagram, posted one of the most relatable anthems about motherhood to the tune of Cardi B's "I Like it Like that." It's so much of a bop that moms are asking if there's a way to download it on Spotify or to make it their ringtone.

The video starts off with the mom holding her twins on either hip appearing distressed while her older child plays a handheld video game. Berty changes scenes multiple times throughout the video but the theme is clear.


"I like peace, I like quiet. I like some grapes in my diet," the mom says as she holds up a glass of wine. "I like the house all to myself, with no kids, with no crying. I like drinking fancy coffee, especially if it's still hot."

The song continues in a similar fashion, laying out all of the things a mom could want on any given day, really, but especially on Mother's Day. Other moms are in agreement.

"Say it louder for the father's in the back," one mom says.

"This is the best thing I’ve ever seen. Truly a masterpiece," another writes.

"GIRL!!!! LOUDER! You deserve a Grammy for this!!! lol," someone declares.

"How can i download this song and add it as a ringtone," another commenter asks.

Someone get this mom in the booth—she's going places and not just in the laundry room. Who knows, this song could find itself being the official mom anthem. Give it a listen below and if you figure out how to download it to blast it while running errands. don't keep it a secret—inquiring moms want to know.