Vast cities floating in perpetual sunlight miles above the Earth’s surface and individuals propelled through space at prodigious speeds by electro-magnetic power are predicted for the future
Perhaps it may seem fantastic to look ahead ten thousand and picture to ourselves what the world will then be like. But why not? We can look back several thousand years, see what the world was in those far days, and compare it with that of the present. Back in 78 BC, Julius Caesar might well have given pinions to his imagination and figured to himself what the world might be in two thousand years. It is doubtful, however, if he would have imagined a world such as we know — but the twenty-two-year old Caesar had no such voluminous data as we have now upon which to base his forecast.
Of course every one has a right to let his imagination take flight and to form for himself his own dream of a future as distant as he may please, and perhaps one man’s dream may be as good as another’s; still, it is interesting to know what idea of a world 10,000 years in the future is formed by the mind of a man who is deeply soaked in scientific knowledge, whose habit it is to study every new invention in all its bearings on human affair, and who, at the same time, is gifted with a brilliant and original imagination.
This rare combination is found in H Gernsback, member of the American Physical Society and editor of Science and Invention, Radio News and Practical Electrics. It is he who has projected his thought into the dim and distant future and who now dares to publish his conception of what this world will be like ten thousand years from today. The following article is slightly condensed from the February number of Science and Invention.
by H Gernsback
Ten thousand years from now
The up-to-date scientist has little difficulty in predicting certain things that will happen in ten or fifty years, but a hundred centuries hence is a larger order even for the most intrepid imagination. That practically nothing of our present civilization will be left after 10,000 years may be safely predicted. We may also prophesy that human beings, a hundred centuries hence, will live in entirely altered circumstances from those in which we now exist.
Capt. Lawson, of aerial fame, for instance, not so long ago made the prediction that after 10,000 years the human race will not live on the surface of the globe at all, but far above it. His reasoning is as follows:
Cities in the air
At the present time, we are living at the bottom of a vast sea — the sea of air — our present atmosphere. We all know that on the surface of the globe this air presses upon every square inch at the rate of 14.7 pounds with a slightly varying pressure. The weight that the human body, for instance, has to sustain is approximately 30,000 pounds, a tremendous figure. We do not come to harm, of course, for the simple reason that the pressure is even in all directions, but our lungs have been accustomed to this pressure and if we suddenly should take this pressure away our lungs would burst. Aviators rising only two miles above the surface of the earth have great difficulty in breathing. It is the same with the other great sea, the ocean, which is also but a fluid, just like the atmospheric sea, with the difference that the water is of greater density; otherwise there is little difference, even chemically, between the two seas.
The fish living at great depth (the so-called deep-sea fish) sustain gigantic pressures upon their bodies, and if suddenly brought to the surface burst like balloons. This is the exact counterpart of the human being who wishes to rise to the top of the atmosphere.
Capt Lawson, following his analogy, predicts that centuries hence we shall be living at the top of the atmospheric sea instead of the bottom. In other words, the future human being will not be a deep-sea atmospheric animal, but will reside at the top of the atmosphere, comparatively speaking.
Capt Lawson does not state the advantages of this living miles up, away from the surface of the globe, but I may cite several. Most of the human diseases are probably due to bacteria and small micro-organisms floating in our dense air. It may be doubted that such microorganisms will be found two or three miles above the surface of the earth. Nearly all our disease, such as tuberculosis and all other infectious diseases, arise from micro-organisms which are carried in the dense air; so by making our future abode ten miles above the surface of the earth we should at once remove one of the greatest causes of death with which humanity has to contend.
Another change for the better in the upper atmospheric plane is the obvious one that we shall have continuous sunlight. No rain, no clouds, no thunder storms, no snow are to be contended with, once we rise above the highest clouds, and the latter never rise higher than two miles above the earth. Sunlight, as we all know, is most beneficial to human beings, and having 100 percent of it all of the time we naturally shall be far better off.
Our illustration depicts one of the future cities floating high in the air, several miles above the earth. The question of sustaining such a large body in a rareified atmosphere will prove to be of little difficulty to our future electrical engineers. Just as we construct leviathans of the sea today, some of them weighing as much as 50,000 tons, we shall construct entire cities weighing billions of tons, which will be held in space not by gas balloons, propellers, or the like antiquated machinery, but by means of gravity-annulling devices. Already experiments have been made whereby it has become possible to reduce the weight of substances by electrical forces.
Thus Prof Majorana, in an article printed in this journal three years ago, described how it was possible to produce negative gravity by reducing gravitational pull on a lead sphere. Of course this is but a crude beginning. Centuries hence, when we wish to raise the city of the future high up in the air, we shall rely upon an electro-magnetic stream of force which by reaction upon the ether and the earth llfts the entire city high above the clouds.
Four gigantic generators distributed at equidistant points in the city shoot earthward electric rays of a nature which as yet we can only imperfectly imagine. These rays, which are not light rays by any means, but are tremendous rays of force, impinge upon the surrounding ether with such force and speed that the entire city is lifted up to the height desired. These rays may be likened to water streams which by reaction would hold up the city. In other words, if we imagine the four rays as shown to be substituted by tremendous jets of water pouring earthward, and, providing these jets were continuous, we can easily understand that they would support the entire city by counter-action of the force of inertia of water pressing against the lower part of the city.
By increasing or decreasing the electrical energy of this future floating city it can be lowered or raised as we desire. By directing the rays sideways we go in the opposite direction. Thus the “captain” of the future city will have a means to steer the city with all its millions of inhabitants to any part of the globe he may desire.
Whence does this tremendous conglomerate take its energy? The sun, of course. The city of the future is not dependent at all upon the earth for its power. Solar energy, which is merely another form of electrical energy will be converted into electricity and stored away, covering all the needs of the vast machinery, and that of the populace as well. Also, we should not forget that atmospheric electricity is a power that we only dimly understand today. This power in the future will be turned to the use of mankind, and we shall then tap a practically unlimited amount of electrical energy.
The city of the future will be entirely roofed over with a substance that is neither glass nor metal. It will be transparent, but as strong as metal and unbreakable. Over this dome-like structure gigantic towers are placed, which suck in the static electrical energy as well as the solar energy. Within the covered city the atmospheric pressure will perhaps not be more than four or five pounds per square inch, instead of 14.7 as we have it today. That means that humanity will have to accustom itself to such a change. There is no question that it is possible to do so if the change be made gradually. It means that future men will have larger chests than they have now.
The steamship has been designed and constructed to stay upon the surface of the ocean, and the future floating city will be designed in like-manner to stay up, not to go down.
As for flying in 10,000 years, the aeroplane and the flying machine will have disappeared. We shall have the individual flyer. The future flying man will be encased in warm fabrics electrically heated and kept hot comfortably. Upon his head he will have a sort of diver’s helmet made of flexible glass, unbreakable. The little atmosphere that he needs — remember he needs only five pounds per square inch — is carried by him in a few small tanks that do not contain air, but chemicals, which are slowly converted into air as required. Power is derived directly from the atmosphere — static electricity converted directly into electro-energy.
I admit that all of this sounds extremely fantastic, but we need not much concern ourselves about this because it represents only a very feeble attempt to portray the future. Only those who cannot measure the future by the past will remain unconvinced.
Illustrated by Louis Biedermann