Tag: Prediction

Day 1000: How It Ends

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Inside this cubicle the air is thick as honey, with asphyxiating flecks of the mundane bracing against the irrefutable promise of a golden weekend. Outside these pin-cushion partitions – and indeed inside as well – every tiny molecule in the universe is saying its goodbyes to its neighbors and preparing to splash into the unknown permutations of a distant someday. My fingers hammer at these tiny plastic letters, fully ignorant of what’s to come.

Or are they? The hallowed fingers of esteemed science – no doubt similar in size and shape to my own, only tasked with a far more specific purpose – have combed back the hair of the observable now and picked at the scalp-nits of projection. The fields of astronomy, physics, mathematics, and a cabinet full of –ologies have given us a map of what’s to come. A timeline of time’s last hurrah.

And the best part? If any of these predictions are wrong, every record of them will likely be destroyed before anyone finds out. That’s my kind of science.

Genetics-1

Within 10,000 years, human genetic variation will no longer be regionalized. This won’t mean we’ll all look the same – the blonde gene will still speckle crowds and set up offensive jokes, but it will be distributed equally worldwide. This forecasted panmixia is far more optimistic than astrophysicist Brandon Carter’s Doomsday Argument, which places our present at roughly the halfway point of humankind’s civilized journey, and projects a 95% likelihood that we’ll be wholly extinct in 10,000 years.

If global warming hasn’t already soaked us into a Kevin Costner-esque hellscape by then, we may also be facing the melting of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which will raise the sea levels by 3 or 4 meters above wherever it will be once we lose the rest of the polar ice caps, which should happen long before then.

Long term forecast: buy a big-ass boat. Read more…

Day 601: The Thousand-Word Fortune Cookie

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The reaction to yesterday’s article, which outlined future planetary events over the next couple centuries, was overwhelming. “It changed the way I see the world,” said one fan that I made up. “So much information in such a callipygian space!” said another, who clearly doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘callipygian’ (it means well-proportioned buttocks).

But the question that was asked most often – I’d like to say by curious fans, but truthfully just by myself during the commercials of a M*A*S*H rerun last night – was what about our lives? Sure, maybe Venus will eclipse Jupiter in 2123, but certainly there must me more I can find out about life on this planet during the short window I’ll get to see.

Well, good news. With 400 articles yet to be slapped upon the giant refrigerator of this project, I have grabbed my next magnet and selected a good mix of forecasts about life on earth to form the basis of today’s entry. Let’s see what we can expect over the next fifty or so years.

I hope it’s all good news.

10BillionPeople

For starters, there are going to be a lot of us. We just passed the post of seven billion souls (and a handful of soulless folks) on this planet, and in the next 12-13 years we’ll hit eight. Nine billion in the early 40’s, and the United Nations is confident we’ll be bursting at the seams with ten billion people by 2083. I suppose the upswing to global warming is that the toastier temperatures should make the real estate in Greenland a lot more valuable – that’ll take some of the crowd-burden off the rest of us. Read more…

Day 399: The Waffle House Index & Other Weird Metrics

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When news of an impending disaster fills every little sweaty crevice of our eternal news cycle, we hear every breed of expert chiming in with their damage predictions, safety warnings, and helpful advice for sneaking up on your neighbor with a blunt object to steal his food. You know, just in case. But behind the televised faces there is a vast network of professionals, preparing for every eventuality. These people have their own jargon, a trade lingo that doesn’t always wriggle into our collective lexicon through public discourse.

This doesn’t only apply to disasters; every industry has their own language garnishes, their means of referring to their trade in a way we common-folk either wouldn’t understand, or wouldn’t think to spin into a phrase. For example, did you know that when the folks at FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) are prepping for a super-storm, they don’t always speak in terms of the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale? Sometimes it’s easier to refer to the storm in more practical terms. Ideally, with a link to breakfast.

WaffleHouse

On May 22, 2011, an EF5 multiple-vortex tornado struck Joplin, Missouri. EF5 refers to the Enhanced Fujita scale, the way tornado strength has been measured in the United States since 2007. EF5 is at the top of the scale, meaning the tornado treated the buildings in Joplin like John Goodman sitting on a Cadbury Crème Egg. Yet the two Waffle House restaurants in the area – which obviously weren’t flattened, but sustained significant damage – remained open. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate remarked, “If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.” Read more…

Day 382: Meet The New Zodiac

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Every so often, which is to say almost every day, I find myself writing about a topic I know nothing about, flailing desperately to sound slightly educated on the matter, when in fact I’m mostly relying on information from my dark she-mistress, Wikipedia, and the crap I make up as I go along. This will be one of those days.

Last week, I penned an in-depth horoscope for those who still possess the child-like naivety that fate is guided by the relationship between the stars and planets and (because we’re that important) us. Later that day, whilst chatting with Cynndie, the naturopath who works at the place where I receive my thrice-daily skin-buffings, the topic arose of the mysterious ‘13th Sign’.

SeventhSign

Not, apparently, a Demi Moore film.

In case you missed it, there was a controversy a couple years ago in the astrology world. Old-school Babylonians – whose wisdom should no doubt directly influence whether or not you’ll meet an old acquaintance today – invented the Zodiac signs by reading which constellation the sun was creeping through on a given day. That clearly worked out well for them, given that you can’t find a single Babylonian wandering the streets today. Really, these are the people who are telling me what career choices I should make? Read more…

Day 364: Just One Word… Plastics.

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In 1989, we were handed a prediction of one particular vision of the future. We caught a glimpse of 2015, seen through the eyes of Marty McFly, and the future looked damn exciting. Hoverboards, self-tying shoes and TV glasses inspired the 14-year-old me. They told me that yes, the future was thrilling, technology was going to continue its exponential climb, and someday within my lifetime I’d get to pilot my very own flying car.

This will be the high-point of humankind's development.

This will be the high-point of humankind’s development.

Predicting every-day life in the future is a pastime that dates back as far as the point in which prehistoric humans realized that the big yellow ball in the sky would probably keep popping out of that mountain in the east for a long time. The problem with making a forecast on future norms is that you’re either going to look like a schmuck when your ideas aren’t realized (see my complete flying car rant here), or else you will be bang-on, and your contemporaries in the present are going to think you’d smoked a big fat joint of sci-fi-weed, rolled up in a page from a Robert Heinlein novel.

In 1955, Disneyland offered Tomorrowland as the section of their theme park devoted to the future. Two years later they debuted a showhome, designed to demonstrate what life would be like in the year 1986. Some of their predictions were astoundingly accurate. Most of them were a little weird. None of them included the ability to access pornography from anywhere in the world using a portable phone. Read more…

Day 311: Common Sense & The Death Of The Redskins Rule

Having grown up as a Dallas Cowboys fan, I never much liked the Washington Redskins. Of course, I live nowhere near an NFL city, and over time I’ve softened my loathing of the ‘Skins, especially since they acquired the most interesting draft pick this year, Robert Griffin III. I watched this Sunday’s game, hoping Washington would get the ball as much as possible, if only to see how many times Griffin would fool the camera guy with his deceptive play-fakes.

But this week there was more at stake. Once every four years, the media runs out of pre-election postulation ideas, and they look at the strangest voodoo they can find to pick a winner on Big Tuesday. The Redskins Rule always pops up now, probably because it has been so frighteningly accurate.

Which is more than I can say for the Redskins’ sack-bleeding offensive line this week.

Rumors of this phenomenon fluttered among the marble halls and paper-drenched offices of Washington as far back as 1992, but it was first thrown into the public spotlight for the 2000 election.

Here’s how it works: if the Redskins win their last home game before a presidential election, then the incumbent party wins on election day. If they lose, the other party will win control of the executive branch.

Sounds ridiculous? It sure as shit does to me. But we have had 18 elections going back to 1940, and the rule has been upheld every single time. Well, except once.

Read more…