Predictions gone awry (was Re: Cyborg Dreams on Background Briefing)

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Wed Nov 07 2001 - 02:46:32 MST

Damien Broderick: Tue Nov 06, 2001
>It put me in mind of several other great insightful moments in radio history:

Predictions gone awry.


"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
--Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science. 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
--Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked
with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a
fad that won't last out the year."
--The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957.

"But what ... is it good for?"
--Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968,
commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
--Ken Olson, founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered
as a means of communication. The device is inherently
of no value to us." --Western Union internal memo, 1876.

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact into Jupiter:

Donald Savage July 7, 1994 NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.

"Because of its small size, most scientists do not expect to witness
significant visible effects from the impact of the first fragment,
nor to detect significant after-effects in the planet's

Paul Weissman July 13, 1994 in _Nature_ July 14, article titled:
"The Big Fizzle is Coming"

"Each snowball will individually ablate and burn up like a meteor in
Jupiter's upper atmosphere. Lacking the momentum and the structural
integrity of a single solid body, they will likely not penetrate
deeper into the atmosphere where they might explode with
multi-thousands of megatons of energy.

Thus the giant impacts will produce a spectacular meteor shower, but
not the massive fireball explosions that have been predicted by some
researchers. The impacts will be a cosmic fizzle."

(for this last one, see


Amara Graps, PhD email:
Computational Physics vita:
Multiplex Answers URL:
     "There are strange things done in the midnight sun..."
         -- Robert W. Service

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