Was the forerunner of the Smartphone the “Wireless Telegraph” of 1906.

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Replace these “wireless telegraphs” with smartphones, update the dress a little, and this vision from a 1906 issue of Punch magazine could easily be for 110 years in the future.
Part of a series of “forecasts” for the year to come, the caption reads:
“These two figures are not communicating with one another. The lady receives an amatory message, and the gentleman some racing results.”
It’s a reminder that the idea of technology leading to a breakdown in “authentic” human interaction is a worry not solely limited to our age.
Punch seemed to have a knack for uncanny predictions of distant technologies to come.
Source: A Vision of Isolating Technology from 1906 | The Public Domain Review

Leaving the Opera in Year 2000 by Albert Robida.

14365566963_2d94c532ed_bA print from around 1882 depicting a futuristic view of air travel over Paris as people leave the opera.
Many types of aircraft are shown including flying buses, limousines and, what are presumably, police vehicles.
On the latter are mounted strangely un-futuristic sword-carrying officers that wouldn’t seem out of place on the Opera’s stage itself.
As far as the get-up of the normal opera-going folk, things don’t seem to have progressed too radically, though many of the men seem to be sporting the same bizarre military-esque hat.

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To the left of the scene, amongst the flying vehicles, we can see a restaurant, which like the Opera building itself, is elevated to an enormous height above the vaguely discernible city below.
In the distance we can make out the Eiffel Tower, which seems to have some enormous structure emerging from its top about which buzz more flying vehicles.
One other interesting thing to note is that women can be seen driving their own aircraft.
The print is the creation of the French illustrator, etcher, lithographer, caricaturist, novelist, and all around futurologist,
Albert Robida. Editor and publisher of La Caricature magazine for 12 years, Robida also wrote an an acclaimed trilogy of futuristic novels imagining what life would be like in the 20th century.
He foretells many inventions in his writings, including the “Téléphonoscope”: a flat screen television display that delivered the latest news 24-hours a day, the latest plays, courses, and teleconferences.
Read more via Leaving the Opera in the Year 2000 | The Public Domain Review.

‘Untitled’.

disturbing-artistic-creations-10Desperate, tender, doomed—Beksinski’s couple are heartbreaking.
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In one of the most directly affecting pieces on this list, Zdizslaw Beksinski presents the charred and skeletal forms of a couple clinging to one another in the aftermath of some disaster.
The red and orange palette suggests some form of fiery destruction, whether nuclear or solar, and the vague backdrop suggests a sandstorm whipping at their remains.
The desperation in these individuals is prevalent even in death, and the brilliant combination of raw human emotion and death at its most grotesque, makes for one disturbing image.
via 10 Disturbing Artistic Creations › Illusion.

‘Star Wars’ with Staples.

James-Haggerty-staples-550x681A New York artist has been combining his love for staples and Star Wars to create stunningly intricate works of art. 40-year-old James Haggerty makes pictures of iconic Star Wars characters using tens of thousands of multi colored staples in organized patterns.
Some of his most notable works are Darth Vader (made from 10,496 staples), C-3PO (33,580 staples) and Greedo (21,458 staples).
Haggerty’s work is incredible and meticulous – he starts out with a thoroughly organized plan.
He first creates five to ten ink drawings and picks his favorite one. He transfers that one onto a painted board, about 40 x 32 inches in size.
He then patiently punches each staple on to the board.
The dark background of the board fills in some of the negative spaces, while the metallic staples form the highlights, adding shine and depth to the picture.
See more work via Patient Artist Creates Detailed Star Wars Art with Thousands of Staples | Oddity Central – Collecting Oddities.

Vintage Pulp Science Fiction.

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What is it about science and the future and how the science fiction of the past (pre-1950s) almost never could encapsulate the superior scientific innovation and discovery of its near future?
And, like most science fiction at that time they considered that  our threats would come from outer space.
I guess that’s why I like a lot of sci-fi centered around man’s bastardry to man.
It is marvelous and wickedly magnificent to look at some cover art and illustration for the pulp and not-so-pulpy science ficton, images that not only have a certain look and feel, but also a smell, a particular bookstore/basement pulp-paper-not-exposed-in-forty-years smell.

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Image: Steampunk Eye–that enormous ship, governed by a long, long pole with a small box with an an eye in it, being raised and lowered on pulleys:
See more via Ptak Science Books: Fantastic Beasts and Tales.

H.G. Wells and his Predictions for the Future.

mcdthto_ec023_hby Brian Handwerk, smithsonian.com
Science fiction pioneer H.G. Wells conjured some futuristic visions that haven’t (yet) come true: a machine that travels back in time, a man who turns invisible, and a Martian invasion that destroys southern England.
But for a man born 150 years ago, many of Wells’s other predictions about the modern world have proven amazingly prescient.
Wells, born in 1866, was trained as a scientist, a rarity among his literary contemporaries, and was perhaps the most important figure in the genre that would become science fiction. Writers in this tradition have a history not just of imagining the future as is might be, but of inspiring others to make it a reality.
In 2012, Smithsonian.com published a top ten list of inventions inspired by sci-fi, ranging from Robert H. Goddard’s liquid-fuelled rocket to the cell phone. “Wells’s was an imagination in a hurry, he wanted to get to the future sooner than it was going to happen. That’s why he’s so predictive in his writing,” explains Simon James, head of the English Studies department at Durham University and the editor of the official journal of the H.G. Wells society .
Wells’s ideas have also endured because he was a standout storyteller, James adds. No less a writer than Joseph Conrad agreed. “I am always powerfully impressed by your work. Impressed is the word, O Realist of the Fantastic!” he wrote Wells after reading The Invisible Man.
Here are some of the incredible H.G. Wells predictions that have come true, as well as some that haven’t—at least not yet. Phones, Email, and Television.
In Men Like Gods (1923), Wells invites readers to a futuristic utopia that’s essentially Earth after thousands of years of progress.
In this alternate reality, people communicate exclusively with wireless systems that employ a kind of co-mingling of voicemail and email-like properties.
“For in Utopia, except by previous arrangement, people do not talk together on the telephone,” he writes. “A message is sent to the station of the district in which the recipient is known to be, and there it waits until he chooses to tap his accumulated messages.
And any that one wishes to repeat can be repeated. Then he talks back to the senders and dispatches any other messages he wishes.
The transmission is wireless.”Wells also imagined forms of future entertainment.
In When the Sleeper Wakes (1899), the protagonist rouses from two centuries of slumber to a dystopian London in which citizens use wondrous forms of technology like the audio book, airplane and television—yet suffer systematic oppression and social injustice.
Read on further via The Many Futuristic Predictions of H.G. Wells That Came True | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian

The Impact of ‘1984’ on Freedom of Speech.

Photograph: George Orwell at work on his trusty old typewriter. (Public Domain).
The effect of Nineteen Eighty-Four on our cultural and linguistic landscape has not been limited to either the film adaptation starring John Hurt and Richard Burton, with its Nazi-esque rallies and chilling soundtrack, nor the earlier one with Michael Redgrave and Edmond O’Brien.
Apart from pop-culture renditions of some of the novel’s themes, aspects of its language have been leapt upon by libertarians to describe the curtailment of freedom in the real world by politicians and officials – alarmingly, nowhere and never more often than in contemporary Britain.
Orwellian
George owes his own adjective to this book alone and his idea that well being is crushed by restrictive, authoritarian and untruthful government.
Big Brother (is watching you)
A term in common usage for a scarily omniscient ruler long before the worldwide smash-hit reality-TV show was even a twinkle in its producers’ eyes. The irony of societal hounding of Big Brother contestants would not have been lost on George Orwell.
Room 101
Some hotels have refused to call a guest bedroom number 101 – rather like those tower blocks that don’t have a 13th floor – thanks to the ingenious Orwellian concept of a room that contains whatever its occupant finds most impossible to endure. Like Big Brother, this has spawned a modern TV show: in this case, celebrities are invited to name the people or objects they hate most in the world.
Thought Police
An accusation often levelled at the current government by those who like it least is that they are trying to tell us what we can and cannot think is right and wrong. People who believe that there are correct ways to think find themselves named after Orwell’s enforcement brigade.
Thought crime
See “Thought Police” above. The act or fact of transgressing enforced wisdom.
Newspeak
For Orwell, freedom of expression was not just about freedom of thought but also linguistic freedom. This term, denoting the narrow and diminishing official vocabulary, has been used ever since to denote jargon currently in vogue with those in power.
Doublethink
Hypocrisy, but with a twist. Rather than choosing to disregard a contradiction in your opinion, if you are double thinking, you are deliberately forgetting that the contradiction is there.
This subtlety is mostly overlooked by people using the accusation of “doublethink” when trying to accuse an adversary of being hypocritical – but it is a very popular word with people who like a good debate along with their pints in the pub.
by Oliver Marre
Read the Full article via Source: 1984: The masterpiece that killed George Orwell | Books | The Guardian

‘1984’ The Masterpiece turns 70 and is more relevant than ever.

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George Orwell. Photograph: Public Domain
by Robert McCrum
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
Seventy years after the publication of Orwell’s masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, that crystal first line sounds as natural and compelling as ever.
But when you see the original manuscript, you find something else: not so much the ringing clarity, more the obsessive rewriting, in different inks, that betrays the extraordinary turmoil behind its composition.
Probably the definitive novel of the 20th century, a story that remains eternally fresh and contemporary, and whose terms such as “Big Brother”, “doublethink” and “newspeak” have become part of everyday currency, Nineteen Eighty-Four has been translated into more than 65 languages and sold millions of copies worldwide, giving George Orwell a unique place in world literature.
“Orwellian” is now a universal shorthand for anything repressive or totalitarian, and the story of Winston Smith, an everyman for his times, continues to resonate for readers whose fears for the future are very different from those of an English writer in the mid-1940s.

The circumstances surrounding the writing of Nineteen Eighty-Four make a haunting narrative that helps to explain the bleakness of Orwell’s dystopia.
Here was an English writer, desperately sick, grappling alone with the demons of his imagination in a bleak Scottish outpost in the desolate aftermath of the second world war.
The idea for Nineteen Eighty-Four, alternatively, “The Last Man in Europe”, had been incubating in Orwell’s mind since the Spanish civil war.
His novel, which owes something to Yevgeny Zamyatin’s dystopian fiction We, probably began to acquire a definitive shape during 1943-44, around the time he and his wife, Eileen adopted their only son, Richard.
Orwell himself claimed that he was partly inspired by the meeting of the Allied leaders at the Tehran Conference of 1944.
Isaac Deutscher, an Observer colleague, reported that Orwell was “convinced that Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt consciously plotted to divide the world” at Tehran.
Continue reading via 1984: The masterpiece that killed George Orwell | Books | The Guardian

Darth Vader appears in Ireland.

Portmagee, Ireland
John O’Dwyer, a member of the costuming club 501st Legion Garrison Ireland, dressed as Darth Vader, looks out towards Skellig.
The small County Kerry fishing village of Portmagee hosted the Star Wars festival for the second year running.
Image Credit: Photograph by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
Source: The 20 photographs of the week | Art and design | The Guardian

Poe’s ‘Big Bang Theory.’

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A daguerrotype of Poe made several months before his death in 1849.
Posted By Eliza Strickland.
During the waning months of 1847, Edgar Allan Poe sat at his desk with a tortoiseshell cat draped around his shoulders and dreamed the universe into being.
Poe believed the book he wrote in that feline-festooned state to be his best work, and he expected its impact to resonate through the ages. It did not.
The book, Eureka: A Prose Poem, was largely ignored at the time, and has been dismissed by most Poe scholars as the ramblings of an armchair cosmologist.
Yet in that book, Poe presented a spooky intuitive description of the Big Bang theory more than 70 years before astrophysicists came up with the idea.
At the time, Poe lived in the rural village of Fordham (now part of the Bronx) in a small cottage suffused with a miasma of melancholy.
His beloved wife, Virginia, whom he had taken as a child bride when she was just 13, had died in that cottage earlier in the year, leaving Poe in despair.
With life and death heavy on his mind, he turned his thoughts to the origin of the universe—and to its ultimate fate.
He began by contemplating gravity, which he defined as “the fact that every atom attracts every other atom,” and he then wondered about the source of that attraction. His startling conclusion was that matter’s natural state is “oneness,” and that the universe began in that state.
But the “primordial particle” was blown apart, seeding space with atoms that long to be reunited. Here’s the key passage in which Poe describes his version of the Big Bang:
Let us now endeavor to conceive what Matter must be, when, or if, in its absolute extreme of Simplicity. Here the Reason flies at once to Imparticularity — to a particle — to one particle — a particle of one kind — of one character — of one nature — of one size — of one form — a particle, therefore, “without form and void” — a particle positively a particle at all points — a particle absolutely unique, individual, undivided, and not indivisible only because He who created it, by dint of his Will, can by an infinitely less energetic exercise of the same Will, as a matter of course, divide it….
The willing into being the primordial particle, has completed the act, or more properly the conception, of Creation. We now proceed to the ultimate purpose for which we are to suppose the Particle created — that is to say, the ultimate purpose so far as our considerations yet enable us to see it — the constitution of the Universe from it, the Particle.
Read the Full Article via Edgar Allan Poe, Part-Time Cosmologist/Big-Bang Philosopher – Facts So Romantic – Nautilus.