Wednesday, February 17, 2016


To mark the coming of the 20th century, a number of newspapers polled experts as to how they envisioned the future. One such article was What Man Will Become. It was reprinted in slightly varying forms in different papers, as was typical, according to space. I have combined several versions to preserve as many of the prophecies as possible. Although most of these predictions have not come to pass, few are given a time due date.

First some of the subheadings:

He Will Be Taller, of Slighter Build, With Heavier Hair and Larger Head

Will Dress in Robes.

Long-Lived Giants Regarded as the Probable Result of the Process of Evolution
To a Great Extent the Political and Social Problems of Today Will Be Eliminated
Fate of Great Cities.

And now for the article. 


Guesses of Scientists as to the Ultimate Fate of the Race

Some Predictions Startling

Washington, D.C., Nov. 24 [1899]. Here are some of the most remarkable prophecies ever ventured by men of science. To learned savants in various scientific institutions lately this question was addressed: " Looking as far into the future as your mind's eye can see, what changes are likely to occur to our brains, bodies, and environments?"

"Man of the distant future," said Professor Otis Mason, a leading authority on racial problems. "will occupy a belt near the equator. The earth is cooling, and, as a result; the Eskimo must leave the polar regions. Later, the Yankee must quit New England. All savage peoples will be eliminated from the earth. The entire human race will be brunette. The blonde people were once brunettes and became as they are through some process of interbreeding.

"The convolutions of the brain will be larger and will admit a much greater blood flow to carry-on the commerce of the mind. Man will be stronger physically. His hands and feet will be much smaller. Labor-saving will reduce physical labor but an increase of athletics will make the race stronger. Disappearance of small printing type will leave the eyes much stronger.

  "The ear can never take the place of the eye until some other heavenly body can be substituted for the sun. The hat will vanish and the hair will improve.

  "The home of this age will be a great communal dwelling where all people of the same kinship will live under the same roof–children, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Rapid transit will eliminate sky-scrapers. Increased artificialization of life will render co-operation more necessary. Separate establishments, such as the corner grocery will be considered absurdities of by-gone days, as will also the keeping of servants.

  "Chemically pure drinking water will free the cells of the body from mineral matter and permit man to live to the age of Methuselah. Compressed foods will never come into use. If they should, the stomach would atrophy. The death of an infant will be an exception, whereas today one-half of the human race never mature. The deadly microbe will suffer the fate of such dangerous animal pests as have already been made extinct. Dress will be more perfectly adapted to comfort, health, longevity, and beauty. It will never be deprived of ornamentation, and women and men will never dress alike."

  "Man will lose his wisdom teeth utterly," said Curator Lucas, the anatomist of the National Museum, "but modern systems of dentistry will probably save the other teeth. It is possible that there may be the germ of a third set, to cut after the disappearance of the second. Mammals far back in the ages had a third set of teeth, and man shows indications of the same tendency. I might add that there is some danger of the human race becoming homely rather than beautiful as a result of the tendency of man to marry for intelligence rather than beauty."

  That man of the distant future would be minus a little toe was the only prophecy ventured by Dr. Dr. D.S. Lamb, the pathologist of the Medical Museum.

  Dr. Theodore N. Gill, biologist of the Smithsonian Institution, said that the wisdom teeth would disappear, as would possibly the vermiform appendix and the little toe.

  "Man himself," said he, "is a striking evidence of the fact that he was not specially created. He is not only like the ape, but bears the impress of many inferior stocks. The appendix, for instance, was inherited from ancestors to whom it was important, and came to us through the apes from primitive forms somewhat like marsupials. It may disappear to a slight extent. The gray matter of the brain may increase somewhat in bulk, but cerebration is not dependent upon size of brain. It is possible that the little toe will disappear, but doubtful. It has its use in giving greater basis to the foot.

  "I doubt whether there will be an increase in stature, especially since the future intellectuality will become more and more predominant over brute force. Hygienic and sanitary progress will have an appreciable effect upon the average length of human life, but longevity dependent upon improved physical conditions cannot be anticipated. I doubt if the hair will decrease. The more civilized have a thicker growth upon their faces than lower order of men."

  "The man of the remote future," said Professor Elmer Gates, "will develop into a creature as superior to man, zoologically, as man today is superior to the quadrumana. His normal span of life will be 150 years with a chance for greater prolongation. His head will not be relatively larger, but his brain cortex will be thicker and he will possess in his brain and other nervous centers a much greater number of real layers. The number of fibre tracts connecting cell groups in the former will have greatly multiplied. All bodily organs not needed will have disappeared. This creature will be much larger and stronger than man is today. His eyes will be larger and mobile in expression.

  "I believe that acuteness of the senses will be increased from five to ten times during the next century alone. The man of the remote future will have senses which we do not possess. He will be able to hear higher pitches of sound and to recognize a greater number of tone qualities. He will be able to discriminate between colors below the red and above the violet. Five thousand years from now the human race will detect ten different steps in each fundamental color.

  "The time will come when man's faculties will have increased from ten to twenty times in speed of functioning. He will then actually experience in a normal lifetime what it would take us perhaps 300 years to experience with our mental equipment. He will be rid of all depressing, evil, and malicious emotions, and because of an introspective knowledge of his own mind will be able to control himself in a manner now apparently impossible. While rid of emotions now poisoning his blood and weakening his judgment, he will possess a greater number of normal emotions active in his daily life.

  "He will be more affectionate and will love a greater number of things. He will be more artistic, more aesthetic, more just, and more sympathetic. He will be, technically, more skillful in his trade or profession. He will not commit crimes or indulge in warfare. He will be trained to exercise great skill in performing the usual functions for the maintenance of reputation and acquisition of character.

  "His period of childhood will be longer than now. Disease will not be handed down from parent to child. Ripe old age will find itself in possession of every function. It is possible that the tendency toward a second childhood will be stimulated into a natural rejuvenating process, prolonging human life indefinitely.

  "By artificial selective propagation foods will be made far more nutritive. The killing of animals will cease. Food will be derived from vegetables or micro-organisms. Man will substitute for meat single cell structures lower in the scale of life than either vegetables or animals, but containing the nutritive qualities of each. Not possessing the organs in which animal diseases thrive, they cannot acquire them.

  "Among these latter single-cell structures are notably the protista. They can be rapidly propagated in water. A ton will become two tons in a short space of time. Then there are many millions of single cell species, both animal and vegetable, which would answer the purpose.

  "The large city will have ceased to exist. The number of villages will increase, and perfected aerial navigation will allow men to live hundreds of miles from their daily occupations. A man in one part of the world will be able to talk with and to see another in a distant part; the atmosphere will not be permeated with carbonic acid gas from the burning of fuels.

  "Porous material will not be used in the of dwellings. They will be entirely fire-proof and moisture-proof. They will be equipped with devices for regulating not only temperature but moisture and electric potential. Dust and germs will be completely screened out, and man will no longer waste his energy combating such things. Water will be more pure. Clothing will not interfere with the ventilation or motion of any part of the body.

  "Language will be so simplified that when a man shall have learned from one to two thousand simple vocables and syllables, he will have mastered his entire language. This mode of speaking will first become common among scientists. Science will be the propagandized religion. Ascertainment of truth by investigation will become a religious purpose. Man will develop more in the twentieth century than he has in the last thousand years."

  "Strawberries as cheap and plentiful for Christmas dinner as during June and July was one of the predictions for the American of the far future, made by Dr. Langworthy, the government's food expert. He added that perfection of transportation facilities would make the season for all fruits and vegetables endless; that electricity would replace cooking fuels; that homework would be done by co-operation; that the preparation of food would be a dignified, rather than a degrading, occupation; and that man's food would not be vastly different from that of today, but  that methods of storing and preparing it would be very much more sanitary.

Ethnologist F.W. Hodge prophesied that printing would become a lost art, and that a combination of graphophone and kinetoscope would replace it. Artificial eardrums would become as common as spectacles.

  "Every man will be white," said Professor W.J. McGee, ethnologist. "His average height and weight will be decidedly greater. His head will be larger, absolutely and relatively. His hands and brains will be better co-ordinated, and therefore he will be a better mechanician. His vision will be stronger, his sense of smell more acute, and his hearing and sense of taste more delicate.

  "He will live under a universal republican government, but it is doubtful whether any one administrative head will be required. Disputes between individuals, corporations or states will be settled by courts of various magnitudes. There will be a universal language–a composite of all present tongues–but, like the English, a language of vocables and syntax. Written and spoken language will be more similar. Phonetic spelling will effect great economy in both printing and writing.

  "Fish will be relatively more important as food. Oceans and lakes will be the main source of food supply. Land will be almost entirely occupied for dwelling and for horticulture and intensified agriculture. Need of clothing will diminish. Control of temperature will be met by other than our present retail methods. There will be no serious exposure to cold. In winter men will travel in well-heated vehicles, carrying them from one warm building to another. Ozone will be sold at drug stores, and will be applied to kill bacilli as soon as they appear.

  "The earth will be an endless succession of suburbs. Cities will meanwhile grow less and less dense. The street block or row will be no more. The home will be more individual, each family occupying a separate house built to suit its peculiar taste.

  "Transportation will be chiefly electric, and will be much more rapid as a result of straightening and multiplication of tracks. Aerial navigation will be valuable only for sports and amusements. Sub-marine navigation will be valuable only as a means of escaping from storms. Vessels will be equipped with means of diving and remaining below the surface until storms blow over. Perfection of telegraphy will decrease mail business. Money will remain a medium of exchange, but financial transactions will be made mostly by negotiable paper, for which individuals will be more responsible than governments.

"Religion will be more of an individual sentiment. There will be an elimination of creeds. As progress of nature grows more complete, man will rely less and less upon the occult. Punishment will be obsolete. All children will receive the foundations of their educations in public schools. Universities and private institutions of learning will give only special training. Children will have to study less, will learn spontaneously, and will be encouraged to do what their minds naturally lead them to prefer. Sex of children will be predeterminable."


December 10, 1899, Fort Worth Morning Register, page 11.
December 1, 1899, Denver Post, page 4.
December 03, 1899, The Saint Paul Globe, page 24.
November 26, 1899, The Chicago Tribune, page 46.

A Predator's Game is available for pre-order through Amazon.

A Predator's Game, available March 30, 2016, Rook's Page Publishing.

Nikola Tesla, Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Henry H. Holmes are all characters in my forthcoming thriller, A Predator's Game, Rook's Page Publishing, March 30, 2016.

Back page blurb of A Predator's Game (advance copy, subject to change).

Manhattan, 1896.

When the author Arthur Conan Doyle meets Nikola Tesla he finds a tall, thin genius with a photographic memory and a keen eye, and recognizes in the eccentric inventor the embodiment of his creation, Sherlock. Together, they team up to take on an "evil Holmes." Multi-murderer Dr. Henry H. Holmes has escaped execution and is unleashing a reign of terror upon the metropolis. Set in the late nineteenth century in a world of modern marvels, danger and invention, Conan Doyle and Tesla engage the madman in a deadly game of wits.

Martin Hill Ortiz, also writing under the name, Martin Hill, is the author of A Predatory Mind. Its sequel, set in 1890s Manhattan and titled A Predator's Game, will be available from Rook's Page Publishing, March 30, 2016. It features Nikola Tesla as detective.

His recent mystery, Never Kill A Friend, is available from Ransom Note Press. His epic poem, Two Mistakes, recently won second place in the Margaret Reid/Tom Howard Poetry Competition. He can be contacted at


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