While humankind has developed considerably, many things are out of our control, and of course, being unable to predict the future is one of them. An exciting facet of life, the future offers infinite possibilities, and we've all made our own predictions at times because it's exciting and enjoyable to imagine a world of considerable difference. But the greatest minds have predicted many things that have actually come true.
From leading scientists and academics to unnaturally intelligent computer boffins, these awe-inspiring minds have managed to predict the future time and time again, so much so that some of their prophecies came true centuries after being made.
Here are 20 fascinating examples.
1. Roger Ebert
Predicted: Movie streaming in 1987
It's very unlikely that any movie critic will come close to matching the cultural legacy that Roger Ebert left behind when he passed away in 2013 after a prolific career as the Chicago-Sun Times chief film critic. Praised by the most prominent directors in the industry, Ebert's encyclopedic knowledge of film and the history of the business itself allowed him a valuable insight into the future of Hollywood, which led to a series of stark predictions concerning the future of home entertainment. While many raised their eyebrows, Ebert was certain that on-demand services would eventually exist and allow anyone anywhere in the world to watch a movie.
“We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it. You’ll not go to a video store but instead order a movie on demand and then pay for it. Videocassette tapes as we know them now will be obsolete both for showing prerecorded movies and for recording movies. People will record films on 8mm and will play them back using laser-disk/CD technology . . . With this revolution in delivery and distribution, anyone, in any size town or hamlet, will see the movies he or she wants to see.”
2. Elena Sheppard
Predicted: All of 2013's Golden Globe winners
Elena Sheppard was the culture editor for a political news and culture website called Policymic when she was asked to live blog the event. Part of the assignment was giving readers her take on the frontrunners and in a moment never seen before- or since- she predicted every winner.
Of course, Sheppard's predictions were based on her own opinions rather than any psychic powers, but for every one of them to come true shows her knowledge in the entertainment world is up there with the best.
3. John Elfreth Watkins
Predicted: Digital photography in 1900
In a fascinating article published in 1900 entitled, "What May Happen In The Next 100 Years" an American civil engineer called John Elfreth Watkins wrote on page 8 of a women's magazine called Ladies' Home Journal, many things that could come true by the year 2000. While many of his predictions failed to materialize (a world without mosquitos was perhaps wishful thinking), many came true- one prediction being digital photography.
While there is no explicit mention of the word 'digital', Watkins was onto something when he wrote, "Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence, snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later.... photographs will reproduce all of nature's colours."
4. Nikola Tesla
Predicted: Wi-Fi and mobile phones in 1909
Under Thoams Edison's sage counsel and tutelage, Nikola Tesla became a visionary in his own right when the engineer prophesied in the New York Times that most citizens would own a handheld device capable of transmitting and receiving messages. "It will soon be possible to transmit wireless messages all over the world so simply that any individual can carry and operate his own apparatus."
5. Colin Kaepernick
Predicted: He would play pro footballer as a 9-year-old
Colin Kaepernick made headlines around the world for his defiant stand against his country's societal issues, he remains a great quarterback, an ability Kaepernick can credit to his amazing self-belief as a child.
While many boy's dreams are focused on the NFL Kaepernick predicted he would play for the San Fransisco 49ers, and grow between 6ft1 and 6ft4 inches- he now stands at 6ft3 and most recently played for the California outfit before becoming a free agent.
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel by Arthur C. Clark)
Predicted: Tablet computing and space tourism in 1968
Stanley Kubrick was one of Hollywood's true visionaries, and it is perhaps, '2001: A Space Odyssey', that cemented his acclaimed reputation. As well as receiving widespread acclaim, Kubrick also had a knack for predicting future trends- or at least depicting them on screen thanks to the brilliant book by Arthur C. Clark.
Examples in the film included the use of tablet computing and even space tourism. Thanks to Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic programme, this looks likely to be a reality.
7. Jules Verne
Predicted: A man on the moon in 1865
Long before Neil Armstrong took one giant leap for mankind, science fiction author Jules Verne wrote about two men traveling to the moon in his book, From Earth to the Moon. Verne was accurate with his future prediction and even set the rocket launch in Florida, which now happens to be the site of Kennedy Space Center.
8. Ray Bradbury
Predicted: Earphones in 1953
In a passage from his groundbreaking novel Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury foresaw the creation of an electronic device that is now ubiquitous across the world: "And in her ears the little seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind.
9. Edward Bellamy
Predicted: The debit card in 1888
Debit cards are now a staple part of most people's monetary transactions, but science fiction writer Edward Bellamy detailed a similar system in his utopian novel Looking Backward, 2000-1887. In chapter IX, one of the characters explains that "A credit corresponding to his share of the annual product of the nation is given to every citizen...and a credit card issued him with which he procures at the public storehouses, whatever he desires."
10. John Brunner
Predicted: Barack Obama would be in power by 2010 (well, sort of)
In a prediction of supernatural proportions, John Brunner's novel Stand on Zanzibar predicted in 2010 that a politician called President Obomi is president.
11. You've Got Mail (Nora Ephron)
Predicted: Online Dating
Before the advent of online dating, people met potential partners by conversing with each other in person. But it didn't have to be that way according to writer/director Nora Ephron.
When the film was released in 1994, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan looked for love via the unconventional method of online dating. Eighteen years later, however, and the tides seem to have turned. Nowadays, it almost seems rare if you haven't met your partner via a dating app or online.
12. Morgan Robertson
Predicted: The sinking of Titanic
In her short story series, “Futility, or the Wreck of the Titan” Morgan Robertson chronicled how the largest passenger ship ever made collided into an iceberg and sank.
14 years later, the RMS Titanic sank exactly how Robertson depicted it would when her book was released in 1898.
13. H.G. Wells
Predicted: The atomic bomb
Another great novelist to have predicted an event of cataclysmic proportions, H.G. Wells continued this trend in his novel “The World Set Free." In it, Wells predicted that an atomic bomb dropped in a major city would impact future lives. 18 years after the book, the atomic bomb, thanks to the Manhattan Project, became a reality.
14. Tana Hoy
Predicted: The Oklahoma bombings 90 minutes before it happened
People predicting terrorist attacks is nothing new- especially in today's fragile political climate- but in 1995, during an interview with radio station WSQM, Tana Hoy believed a terrorist attack in the United States would take place that year, and that the location would be a federal building that would eclipse the damage done during the1993 World Trade Center bombing.
In freakish circumstances, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed 90 minutes later.
15. Jeffrey Palmer
Predicted: Hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters
The famous psychic Jeffery Palmer made a career out of making outlandish predictions, and though he naturally missed the mark with many of them, a high number of them came true, including the infamous Hurricane Katrina. He also correctly predicted a volcanic eruption and a fatal tsunami.
16. Edgar Cayce
Predicted: World Wars I and II and the Great Depression
Nicknamed the“sleeping prophet,” for his clairvoyance, Edgar Cayce's popularity peaked when he predicted the start and end of World Wars I and II, as well as the end date of America's Great Depression. If that wasn't mystic enough, he also predicted the death of the Great Depression-era president, Franklin Roosevelt.
17. Jeane Dixon
Predicted: The assassination of Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy
The stars aligned for Astrologer Jeane Dixon more than once when she made a series of startling predictions regarding the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Her predictions were so respected she was invited by First Lady Nancy Reagan for advice during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
18. Back to the Future Part II (Robert Zemeckis)
Predicted: Flat-screen TVs and Skype-like communication
Back to the Future may have been a tad optimistic when it portrayed people in the year 2015 owning flying cars and self-tieing shoelaces but today's flat-screen TVs and video-link communication devices were all gadgets imagined by the film's writer and director, Robert Zemeckis.
19. Blade Runner (Directed by Ridley Scott, based on a novel by Philip K.Dick )
Predicted: Digital billboards
Before the cult classic movie Blade Runner, eye-catching digital billboards were the stuff of make-belief, but as Ridley Scott envisioned, they weren't too far away from becoming a staple part of modern-day advertising.
Predicted: Online shopping and email in 1967
When Philco-Ford's short film speculating the future of goods and services went viral in the mid-00s, it was so accurate Internet users presumed it was a hoax- but it wasn't. A leading pioneer in electronics in the late 1800s and mid-1900s, Philco became one of the first companies to produce mass-produced radios, and the Ford Motor Company eventually purchased the company in 1961.
In recognition of their 75th anniversary, they produced a short film speculating how commerce might play out in the future. The video was titled, “Year 1999 A.D" and prophesies how online shopping and “instant written communication between individuals anywhere in the world” would become a reality the following century.