This article is perhaps best described by a quote from Jules Verne: “Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.”
Jules Verne (1828-1905), the father of science fiction. Verne has been the second most-translated author in the world since 1979, ranking between Agatha Christie and William Shakespeare.
He authored several classics including Journey to the Center of the Earth(1864), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873).
Throughout his life, Jules Verne wrote nearly a hundred novels which were seen as a reflection of the great geographical discoveries and advances and technological innovations of his time.
Across his incredible novels, we find even more incredible predictions of the future.
Verne published in 1863 his book ‘Paris in the twentieth century‘, which narrates the story of a young man who lives in a city with cars powered by gas, high-speed trains, and massive glass skyscrapers.
In this novel, Verne also mentions an international communications network that connects different regions simultaneously, where its users can share information and data.
In his perhaps most famous novel–Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Verne’s Captain Nemo travels across our planet’s oceans in a massive electric submarine, called the Nautilus.
The all-electric sub featured its famous organ, a massive dining room as well as other luxuries, but beyond these, the Nautilus isn’t that different from modern subs, such as the circa-1964, three-passenger Alvin, powered by lead-acid batteries.
In his book ‘In the year 2889‘ the French author wrote how “instead of being printed, the Earth Chronicle is every daybreak spoken to subscribers, who, from interesting conversations with reporters, statesmen and scientists, learn the news of the day.” Don’t you think how that sounds eerily familiar to modern newscast? Curiously, the first newscast didn’t happen until 1920, as noted by the Associated Press—some 30 years after Verne had written about it.
Another famous book written by Verne was his Journey to the center of the Earth (1864) where Jules Verne imagined an ocean inside our planet.
Curiously, recent scientific studies have shown that there actually is an ocean beneath our feet.
Although not in the form of liquid water, as visualized by the French writer, the water scientists found (in 2014) is most likely “trapped” in minerals of the earth’s crust, in the so-called transition zone between the upper and lower mantles, at an approximate depth between 410 and 660 kilometers.
‘From the Earth to the Moon‘ (1865) Jules Verne speculated about light propelled spacecraft among other incredible things. Curiously, today that technology actually exists and NASA refers to it as Solar Sails. In fact, in our recent article about the mysterious interstellar object ‘Oumumua, we wrote how scientists speculate it may be an alien craft powered by massive solar sails.
In the same book, Verne wrote about today’s Lunar Modules and the first passengers.
In the first experimental journey in the book From the Earth to the Moon (1865), Verne wrote about an animal crew. Curiously, the first living being that traveled to space was a dog called Laika.
Verne imagined “a big gun going off, and you get enough force to break through gravity,” and he described how projectiles will be used to carry passengers to the moon.
But there’s more.
The ship Verne wrote about that reached the Moon was called “Columbia“, it was made of aluminum and was manned by three astronauts.
The American module Apollo XI (1969) was called “Columbia” and also took three astronauts into space.
Both spaceships were conical and measured 3.65 meters; Apollo XI weighed 5,621 kilograms, while Verne’s design weighed 5,345 kilograms.
Jules Verne calculated in his book that in order to beat gravity and reach space, a vehicle would need to travel about eleven kilometers per second.
He wasn’t far off from the actual speed achieved by Apollo.
The speed reached by Apollo XI was 40,000 kilometers per hour, a little faster than that what Verne had predicted, 38,720 kilometers per hour.
The Location from where Verne’s spacecraft was launched is nearly identical to where the Apollo launched from.
If you go back to the nineteenth century, you’d expect that an author would choose a European country to launch the spacecraft from. For some reason, Verne the United States, and he knew why.
He chose to launch the spacecraft from Cape Town, about a hundred kilometers away from Cape Canaveral (Florida).
Verne had calculated that for a rocket to be launched into space, it is necessary to count for the terrestrial rotation, escape velocity and its own initial velocity.
This means that the closer we are to the terrestrial equator, the less energy will be needed and, therefore, the mission will have a lower expenditure and a higher success rate.
Cape Town, like Cape Canaveral, is south of the United States were ideal locations.
In the same book, he also described splashdown spacecraft. The French author envisioned how spacecraft returning from orbit could land in the ocean and stay afloat, pretty much like the Mercury Capsule which did exactly that.
His ideas had no boundaries.
In his book ‘In the year, 2889’ Verne predicted ‘atmospheric advertisements, something not too dissimilar to modern-day skywriting;
“Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements reflected from the clouds,” Verne wrote, “so large they may be seen by the populations of whole cities or even entire countries.”
Also in “In the Year 2889,” Verne described “phonotelephote,” something we today know as a video conference. In his book Verne explained how phonotelephote enabled “the transmission of images by means of sensitive mirrors connected by wires,” Verne wrote.
Verne also imagined Taser long before they were actually invented.
In Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Verne described a gun that was able to deliver a strong electric jolt, similar to a modern-day Taser “electronic control device”