In 1962, third-graders predicted pocket phones, flying cars
Very few of us have flying cars yet, but experts say progress has been made on many of the areas covered in the 1962 predictions of Laurelhurst third graders.
Seattle Times staff reporter
1962 SPECIAL SECTION
On April 21, 1962, the gates opened to a World's Fair in Seattle that left an indelible stamp on the city's image and future.
For 184 days, locals and visitors alike marveled at the Space Needle, the Monorail, the "World of Tomorrow" pavilions, and the "Spacearium."
Days before the opening, The Seattle Times published a 152-page "Seattle World's Fair Souvenir Edition" that was packed with information about the fair as well as predictions for the future. We're celebrating the anniversary by revisiting that section:
For expert input, we turned to the Pacific Science Center, which tapped two of its "Science Communication Fellows" — Erika Harnett, a University of Washington professor in Earth and space sciences, and Alex Miller, a UW postdoctoral researcher in chemistry.
We also asked the former Laurelhurst students for predictions about life 50 years from now.
Bert Kolde, 57, Mercer Island, senior director of Vulcan
His 1962 prediction: In space "we will eat paste from tubes."
The reality: Astronauts don't eat paste from tubes, but they do eat ice cream from foil packets, and other things, too. The word I've heard from astronauts is that the food in space is much like what we eat on Earth, and quite good, too — much better than one would find in many a school cafeteria. — Harnett
Kolde's prediction for 2062: Rosie the Robot, from "The Jetsons," will be a mainstream household appliance.
Phoebe Russell, 59, West Seattle, soccer scheduler and registrar
Her 1962 prediction: "There will be a rocket for everyone."
The reality: While we don't each have a rocket yet, a commercial spaceport is being built in New Mexico and a firm, Virgin Galactic, is taking bookings for the public to fly into space, for a brief few minutes. — Harnett
Russell's prediction for 2062: "Government-supplied, accident-proof, sustainable nano-tech-fueled vehicles for all."
Chris Rich, 58, Seattle, forest-resource company executive
Her 1962 prediction: "You will be able to have a telephone in your pocket."
The reality: Not only do we have pocket phones, but they have cameras, video cameras, music players and the Internet inside them. — Miller
Rich's prediction for 2062: "We will have a cashless society and use digital money stored on an all-purpose device that fits in your pocket."
Tom Greene, 58, Bainbridge Island, co-founded frozen-food company
His 1962 prediction: "The best change will be to go way past Pluto in a rocket so we can find more planets and find out if there is any more life way out in space."
The reality: Four spacecraft have traveled past Pluto's orbit, Pioneers 10 and 11 and Voyagers 1 and 2. We still receive signals from the Voyager spacecraft with useful science and hope to do so until 2025, when the power systems will fail. — Harnett
Tom Norwalk, 58, Bothell, heads Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau
His 1962 prediction: "If I went to Pluto. Then I could see the Earth as a star."
The reality: A spacecraft, called New Horizons, will be flying past Pluto in 2015 ... Scientists will likely try to take an image of the Earth but I don't know how sensitive the optics are and what the Earth will look like. — Harnett
Norwalk's prediction for 2062: Seattle will finally have an NBA team and our city will be in the top five destinations to visit in America.
David Shulman, 59, Seattle, film-institute founder
His 1962 prediction: "I want to go to Jupiter because it is the largest planet."
The reality: Although people have not traveled to Jupiter, the U.S. has sent several spacecraft past Jupiter and one, Galileo, not only spent several years orbiting Jupiter, it launched a probe into Jupiter's atmosphere and then took a final, fatal plunge into Jupiter's atmosphere. — Harnett
Shulman's prediction for 2062: Communication occurs through touch, voice, and even thought. Global warming and rising sea levels; U.S. power concentrated by wealthy under a near-totalitarian government.
Bruce Williams, 58, Leavenworth, retired bank head
His 1962 prediction: Cars that will "float through the air ... without stopping for gasoline."
The reality: A startup company, Terrafugia, has a working prototype of a flying car, and it is taking pre-sales orders ... So, flying cars do exist, but not for everyone yet, but soon. We don't yet have cars that can travel without stopping for fuel, apart from prototypes. Some spacecraft don't have to stop for fuel because they use solar panels to generate electricity to power the instruments. — Miller
Williams' prediction for 2062: Zero communicable-disease deaths; 15 percent probability of a catastrophe, such as a nuclear attack, pandemic, mega-earthquake, volcanic eruption or environmental disaster.
Webb Nelson, 59, Seattle, co-founded toy company
Third-grade prediction: "We would have a new invention to get us somewhere under the Earth ... something different. And faster."
The reality: Subways and tunnels conduct below-ground traffic, but largely in transportation forms that have existed for decades.
Nelson's prediction for 2062: Concrete gets harder and stronger with age; the Space Needle will have a centennial anniversary.