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Cliodynamics

Peter Turchin is a Professor of Mathematics, and of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. For the last nine years, he's been taking the mathematical techniques that once allowed him to track predator–prey cycles in forest ecosystems, and using them to model human history -- a pattern identification process he calls Cliodynamics. The goal of cliodynamics (or cliometrics) is to turn history into a predictive, analytic science. By analysing some of the broad social forces that shape transformative events in US society: historical records on economic activity, demographic trends and outbursts of violence, he has come to the conclusion that a new wave of internal strife is already on its way, and should peak around 2020. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 2, 2012 - 60 comments

 

Prophetic Pictures from Menominie, WI

Prophetic Pictures from Menominie, Wisconsin. In 1905, high school senior Albert Hansen took photogaphs of his graduating classmates at Menominie HS. Not as they were -- but as they believed, or hoped, or feared they would be in the decades to come. Dorothy M. Jesse was going to be a mathematician, and Fred Quilling a pharmacist. Alice M. Tilleson would be a prominent socialite, whose "eccentric ideas with reference to danger, force her to cling to that old fashioned vehicle, the automobile, instead of the new wheel-less aerial motor car." William C. Klatt, a future physician, would operate on disembodied heads. And Hansen himself was destined for the hobo's life. The Wisconsin Historical Society has the whole collection available online, together with the text from the yearbook and the truth, as best the Society could learn, of how the graduates' actual future compared with prophecy. (Spoiler: Fred Quilling really did become a pharmacist.) Just one of the many remarkable collections at Wisconsin Historical Images.
posted by escabeche on Feb 7, 2010 - 25 comments

The Economist: The World in 2010

In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.

The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Nov 14, 2009 - 60 comments

Yesterday's Energy of Tomorrow...and more

Peak Oil, 1925. In 2000, 20% of new buildings will be solar equipped. By the late 1990s, 90% of the world's energy will be nuclear-generated. These and other erroneous projections are being collected as part of the Forecast Project on the website Inventing Green: The Lost History of Alternative Energy in America.
posted by Miko on Jul 27, 2009 - 65 comments

A Brief History of the Apocalypse

The sky is falling! From Romulus to Ronald Reagan: a comprehensive timeline of apocalyptic predictions. If you decide to put some stock in one or more of these prophecies, you may need to do some preparatory research.
posted by brundlefly on Jun 22, 2005 - 11 comments

Airplanes, movies, guided missiles, submarines, the electric chair, air conditioning , the fax machine - in 1870

Airplanes, movies, guided missiles, submarines, the electric chair, air conditioning , the fax machine - in 1870 " Alvin Toffler, John Naisbitt, Faith Popcorn: all of them famous prognosticators. Yet each comes off a piker when compared to the true master of industrial clairvoyance, Jules Verne."
posted by Voyageman on Apr 1, 2002 - 7 comments

A Brief History of the Apocalypse
posted by signal on Feb 26, 2002 - 15 comments

Anyone else remember Wired's theory of The Long Boom from 1997? I guess they were wrong.
posted by endquote on Sep 30, 2001 - 20 comments

Have we entered a

Have we entered a Neil Howe and William Strauss have written a series of books (really, the same book rehashed three times, but who's counting?) on generational cycles. Their theory is that we are due for a "fourth turning" in the first part of the 21st century: a catalyst event that causes an extreme change in public mood, causing us to go through a decade or two of crisis. For example, the 1929 stock market crash was a catalyst, and the Depression and WWII were the time of crisis. Was 9/11 such a catalyst?
posted by litlnemo on Sep 15, 2001 - 15 comments

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