“Fifty Years Hence”

In 1932, Winston Churchill wrote an article for Popular Mechanics examining the technological promise of the coming half-century:

  • “Wireless and television would enable their owner to connect up to any room similarly equipped and hear and take part in the conversation as well as if he put his head in through the window.”
  • “Vast cellars, in which artificial radiation is generated, may replace the cornfields and potato patches. Parks and gardens will cover our plowed fields.”
  • “We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or the wing, by growing these parts separately.”
  • “A few years ago London was surprised by a play called Rossum’s Universal Robots. The production of such beings may well be possible within fifty years. They will not be made, but grown under glass.”
  • “There seems little doubt that it will be possible to carry out the entire cycle which now leads to the birth of a child, in artificial surroundings. Interference with the mental development of such beings, expert suggestion and treatment in the earlier years, would produce beings specialized to thought or toil.”
  • If the potential of nuclear power were realized, “we could make an engine of six hundred horsepower weighing twenty pounds and carrying fuel for a thousand hours in a tank the size of a fountain pen.”

“Mankind has sometimes traveled forward and sometimes backward, or has stood still for hundreds of years,” he wrote. “Now it is moving very fast.”