100 years of failure and why they really are…

Well I came across this article on Gizmodo that outlines the past concepts in the past 100 years and why they are spectacular failures. Everything from domes, to using bombs to make man-made lakes.

Let’s have some fun with some of them (not all of them) and see how I can make them worse.

Cities Under Domes

The architect and all-around visionary R. Buckminster Fuller believed that one day, cities in cold-weather regions cold be encased under temperature-controlled geodesic domes. Although it might sound loopy, Fuller argued back in the ’60s that such a dome over New York City would pay for itself in 10 years, as there would be no more need for snow removal. In addition to temperature control, the domes were also supposed to contain germ filters that would have prevented us from getting sick too.

My argument is that it’s worse than that. If you think that maintaining and cleaning a large glass building is hard, try doing the same thing for a multi-block dome and what happens if one of the panels fall?

The Flying Car

For futurists, this one’s an oldie but a goodie. By 1909, forecasters believed that soon, someone would combine, like peanut butter and jelly, the newfangled airplane to the equally cutting-edge automobile. For a century the flying car has been one of those perennially just-around-the-corner innovations, and while work continues on a viable prototype, don’t expect to see your Honda become airborne anytime soon. Although NASA has done some work on creating a “sky highway,” an electronic corridor in the sky to be used by pilots of small craft, the effort is still at a very preliminary stage.

This is nothing compared to what would happen if those get into the air in today’s time. You think having car crashes on the ground is bad, in the air is worse and this is just a new weapon for terrorists to play with.

Nuclear Bombs for Demolition and Excavation.

In the 1950s, when nuclear weapons were still novel, there was a movement to find so-called “peaceable uses for the atom”—including using atomic bombs as excavation equipment for titanic construction projects. The effort was known as “Project Plowshare” (as in what swords get beaten into) and was intended to show the world that America, then as now the preeminent nuclear power, was not hell-bent on global destruction.

No need for words, I got videos.

Man-Made Oceans

In the late 1960s there were plans to damn up the Amazon River and carve out some reservoirs (possibly using nukes such as the ones described above) to create an inland ocean that would have covered a huge chunk of South America. The project reached a fairly advanced planning stage before it was abandoned by the leaders of the nations that would have been affected. Among the many problems with this plan: a French engineer calculated that placing so much additional water near the Equator could actually slow the earth’s rotation.

Money Anyone? Nuff Said. I mean this is the crap that cause the failure of Atlantropa.

Undersea Colonies

By the 1960s, engineers had figured out how to economically harvest the oil and other mineral wealth of the deep seas. Some thought that this would inevitably lead to the creation of underwater Gold Rush towns, communities that would at first house miners and, eventually, their families. A proposed, corollary innovation was the creation of artificial gills that would have enabled residents of these aquatic metropolises to breathe underwater without bulky gear. In 1964, at the second World’s Fair held in New York City, General Motors sponsored an exhibit depicting these undersea homes which, of course, had “sea cars” parked in their underwater driveways.

Can you say structural integrity, pressure limits and terrorism?

The Self-Driving Car

By now we were all supposed to be able to take our hands off the wheel and let our cars do the driving. At the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, one exhibit depicted future expressways filled with autos controlled by radio from a central tower. Sixty years later, near San Diego, engineers built a demonstration “smart roadway” that used sensors and computers to keep the traffic flowing. With the advent of GPS, advanced collision-avoidance technology and cars that can even parallel park without human assistance, this is one innovation we might actually be seeing pretty soon.

I can see so many problems going on with this and one of them could be software failure or bugs. Ever since I have gotten myself into computers, there has been no ‘immaculate’ software that has been out that is what beta testing is for. And even if the things were to come out. No amount of field tests can compared to real world expereinces that would make the systems work otherwise resulting in failure.

Then comes hackers who would seize control of your self-driving car and they themselves drive you into a ravine. And GPS. Oh they better think of something of what to do when those go out during a solar flare.

The Safe Cigarette

When the US Surgeon General officially declared, in the early 1960s, that cigarettes cause cancer, tobacco companies responded by trying to come up with a truly safe smoke. Company scientists tried a variety of methods, including attempting to identify and filter out the harmful chemicals and even experimenting with smokable lettuce, but the effort proved a bust, and was finally abandoned following the successful cigarette company lawsuits of the 1990s.

Along with the tobacco lawsuits, think Olestra and tell me if they think they will do it again with making dangerous needs “safe”.


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