Tagged With science and invention

When the world is descending into chaos, it can be hard to believe that optimistic visions of the future are within our reach. But personally, I think I've hit that point where escapist fantasy worlds of tomorrow are the only thing that can ease the stresses of our modern world. This 1923 illustration, for instance, is a picture that I'd just love to crawl inside of and pretend is real.

According to the LA Times in 1923, it took trams 30 minutes to move just six blocks in downtown LA that summer. The automobile had invaded the city, and the trams were owned by private companies that didn't want to spend any money on improvements. The dream? Elevating mass transit, like in the 1923 model above by Los Angeles inventor Fletcher E. Felts.

New technology is scary. Just ask the people who think that their illnesses are caused by Wi-Fi. But blaming unfortunate things on newfangled technology has been happening for decades, if not centuries. Like when farmers of the 1920s used to blame too much rain, earthquakes and droughts on the new technology of radio.

Today, hotels offer high-tech amenities that just a generation ago would be astounding -- RFID key cards, customisable ambiance at the push of a button, and coming soon, humanoid robot concierges. So what started the high-tech hotel craze? It can all be traced back to the 1920s, when Americans started to demand a decidedly techno-centric flair in their hotels.

Today's modern automobile often comes with high-tech crash-avoidance systems. Parallel parking is a breeze when your car beeps to let you know when you're about to hit something. The people of yesteryear couldn't have imagined something like that, right? Think again.

While those of us here in the early 21st century argue over the future of smartwatches and smart rings, inventors of the 1920s would probably think we're all a bunch of babies. Sure, your Pebble might have caller ID. But can it incapacitate a potential mugger with a 10,000-volt high-frequency shock? I didn't think so.