How Jules Verne Predicted The Future: What He Got Right
When it comes to great science fiction writers, there’s Issac Asimov, the Strugatsky brothers, Stanislaw Lem… etc. But Jules Verne is arguably the one who started it all. A pioneer of the genre - or rather, the creator of the genre, forever changed the way we perceive the world. And the best science fiction writers are those who blurred the line between science and fiction - and Jules Verne was able to do that, and predicted the future in an eerily accurate manner. So what did he predict?
In his novel Paris in the Twentieth Century, Jules Verne covered different aspects of life in the future - and one of them is music. It was said in the novel that instead of classical music at the time, that was played by traditional instruments, it would be replaced by something that resembles a synthesizer, and gave rise to electronic music. Coincidence? The story was set in the 1960s, and the first commercially available electronic synthesizer was invented by Robert Moog in 1964.
When the book In the year 2889 came out in 1889, the telephone was invented less than 20 years ago - however, he saw something beyond that. Instead of just voices, he foresaw the incorporation of images as well, which wasn’t explored until the 1920s. As Verne put it in this book, the invention allows "the transmission of images by means of sensitive mirrors connected by wires", mirroring the video conferencing technology that we have today, decades after.
Imagining A Big Step Forward For Mankind
The first moon landing happened on the 20th of July, 1969. Apollo 11 was launched into space and reached the moon, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped foot for the first time on a different planetary body. However, in Jules Verne’s famous novel From the Earth to the Moon, he foresaw a device that resembles the remarkable moment, that "...a big gun going off, and you get enough force to break through gravity..." And airplanes weren't even invented till 1903!
Solar energy was harnessed in the form of solar cells in 1954. Before that, getting energy from the sun is a far-fetched idea, an imagination at best. However, Jules Verne predicted the use of it in space in his book From the Earth to the Moon - in the form of light-powered devices. And the world's first "solar-sailing" spacecraft finally set sail in orbit on the 23rd of July, 2019.
Again, in his work In the Year 2889, Jules Verne mentioned a new form of newscast - "Instead of being printed, the Earth Chronicle is every morning spoken to subscribers, who, from interesting conversations with reporters, statesmen and scientists, learn the news of the day." - instead of newspapers, the media used at the time, visual news broadcast would be used instead. And years later, in the 1940s, TV newscast became a common thing.
Perhaps his most popular novel, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea foresaw the invention of electric submarines. In his novel, the Nautilus, led by Captain Nemo, traveled deep in the world’s oceans. While it might be romanticized with the luxurious dining room onboard, it’s an eerily accurate depiction of what would then be known as an electric submarine, which came out less than 20 years later.
Skywriting, a way to advertise by drawing/ writing with the sky as the canvas through the use of airplanes - it reached its peak in the 1940s, with Pepsi scribbled some 2,225 sky written messages over 48 states, Mexico, Canada, Cuba, and South America in 1940 alone. And Verne wrote in his work In the year 2889, "Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements reflected from the clouds[…] so large they may be seen by the populations of whole cities or even entire countries.", foreshadowing the use of skywriting as a way for advertisements.
In Paris in the Twentieth Century, Jules Verne also depicted something similar to what would become modern cars. In the story, the cars are powered by “gas-cabs”, that closely resemble the internal combustion engine that we know of. Apart from that, he also foresaw the construction of supporting infrastructures such as gas stations and paved asphalt roads, which actually foreshadowed Paris in 1960.
Computer And Internet
In the same novel, he also covered various inventions that would later come to life - one of which is the computer and internet. In the story, mechanical devices, powered by electricity, were able to send messages from one to another across vast distances - similar to computers and the internet that you are using now, which came out in 1946 and 1983 respectively.
Jules Verne wrote the novels in the late 19th century - decades before some of these inventions came out. How did he foresee all of this? Perhaps a keen eye and imagination? If you know someone who is into science fictions, why not share this article with them?