The Most Famous Science Predictions that Failed to Come True

The super computer Deep Thought predicts that the number “42” is the ultimate answer and key to the Universe. Oddly enough a team of Australian astrophyicists have concluded that our galaxy weighs three times 10 to the power of 42 kilograms – a number written as 3 followed by 42 zeroes.

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Here are ten compiled predictions that Earth-bound experts made that didn’t come true:

  1. “We will never make a 32 bit operating system.” – Bill Gates

2. “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home” – Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp.

3. “There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United states.” – T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, in 1961

4. “How, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense.” -Napoleon Bonaparte.

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5. “A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” -New York Times, 1936.

6. “Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years,” – Alex Lewyt, president of vacuum cleaner company Lewyt Corp., in the New York Times in 1955.

7. “The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.” – Ernest Rutherford.

8. “There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” – Albert Einstein, 1932.

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9. “The cinema is little more than a fad. It’s canned drama. What audiences really want to see is flesh and blood on the stage,” – Charlie Chaplin.

10. “The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” -Sir William Preece.

11. “I must confess that my imagination refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea.” – HG Wells, British novelist, in 1901.

12. “There will never be a bigger plane built.” – A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.

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13. “Fooling around with alternating current is just waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.” – Thomas Edison.

14. “When the Paris Exhibition [of 1878] closes, electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of it.” – Oxford professor Erasmus Wilson.

15. “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to no one in particular?” – Associates of David Sarnoff responding to the latter’s call for investment in the radio in 1921.

16. “Telltale signs are everywhere —from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest. Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F.” — Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University in Time Magazine’s June 24th, 1975 article Another Ice Age?

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17. “Stomach ulcers are caused by stress” — accepted medical diagnosis, until Dr. Marshall proved that H. pylori caused gastric inflammation by deliberately infecting himself with the bacterium.

18. “If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this.” — Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M “Post-It” Notepads.

19. “Space travel is bunk.” — Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of the UK, 1957 (two weeks later Sputnik orbited the Earth).

20. “Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” — William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, British scientist, 1899.

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21. “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” — Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

22. “That virus is a pussycat.” — Dr. Peter Duesberg, molecular-biology professor at U.C. Berkeley, on HIV, 1988

23. “The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.” — Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

24. “The earth’s crust does not move”- 19th through early 20th century accepted geological science. See Plate Tectonics

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Fabio Evangelista is a Brazilian writer.

Crossed Paths is the first book of the Myra-Hati trilogy, an epic adventure in a post-apocalyptic world, for the lovers of sci-fi / fantasy genre. This is the author’s first work published in America.

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