Sunday, February 09, 2014

1990's futurism and a simple rocket tip

I just found a few old issues of Boy's Life and spotted an article by Issac Asimov, entitled "Driverless Cars, Planes in Space: Isaac Asimov Looks at the Future of Travel."  He made numerous speculations about what the future of travel will look like. Some of these include:

"Future cars will drive themselves and accidents will almost never happen." Well, in 2014 we have the emergence of the Google car and 4 states now allow road testing of driverless vehicles. I'll give him that one, although the jury is out 'no accidents' part.

Emissions from gasoline engines are causing the 'greenhouse effect'. Well that's not really a prediction and I'm not going to discuss that here. However, he does speculate about hydrogen fuel, battery powered cars and solar powered cars. Hydrogen fuel cells are coming and there are already numerous battery powered vehicles. I give him those also. As for solar cell cars, these certainly exist but are no where near street worthy. I seem to remember one manufacturer has a concept car that uses solar cellys to charge its battery.

Cars might ride on a cushion of air. This idea hasn't materialized.

Ships might be jet assisted. This had already happened by the time he wrote this article. Click on my 'Ekranoplan' tag in the sidebar. This idea died off more than expanded.

VTOL is the future of aviation. Well, even though there are many examples, this has certainly not become mainstream.

In the future rockets will "kick planes to near space." That's an interesting one. SpaceShip one has accomplished this and SpaceShip2 is slated to start commercial space tourism this year. The future may not quite be here, but it is coming fast.

Finally, "people living at home could well view their offices or factories, operate machinery, and consult other people." That one's a win. Telecommuting, teleconferencing, Skype, drones...there are many examples.

So, how do you think he did?

Finally, I saw a reader won $5 for a simple rocket tip. If you build rockets and don't save the documentation, you should mark the recommended motors on the nose cone shoulder or fin. The idea to mark this info on the nose cone's shoulder, where it is not visible, is excellent. I think I may start doing this.