Future predicting: What might happen in the next hundred years?

Saturday, May 9th, 02009 at 15:51 UTC

As a thought experiment, I have been using the following magazine article as a basis for several conversations, more on that in a later post. Future predicting is notoriously hard, things that are blindingly obvious now, might not have been at the time. It is only in retrospect that we can truly see the short-comings and the reasons why some decisions and predictions were made.

The following is an article that ran in the December 1900 issue of Ladies Home Journal. It was predicting life 100 years into the future in the year 2001. It is annotated with my notes about how close or far off they were with their predictions and why they might have chosen what they did.

To understand these predictions, you need to put yourself into their time. I am not writing about this to illustrate how “wrong” or “stupid” they were, but instead as an insight into the life and times of 01900. This is pre-World War I, the Panama Canal would not start construction for 3-4 more years, most people had never seen an electric light-bulb, the telephone had only been around for 25-30 years, television was still 20 years away and there were only 45 States in the Union. The Boer War was being fought in Africa and the Boxers Rebellion had started in China. The first truly mass-produced car, the Model-T didn’t appear until 1927 and the first powered flight wasn’t to take place for another 4 years.

Ladies Home Journal, is by no means the pinnacle of turn of the century thinkers and futurists, but it does shed light on what was important to the everyday reader. What their worries and concerns were, and how the future would be a better place for them.

This is that article, my annotations are at the end.

What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years

By John Elfreth Watkins Jr.

These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible. Yet they have come from the most learned and conservative minds in America. To the wises and most careful men in our greatest institution of science and leaning. I have gone, asking each in his own to forecast for me what in his opinion will have been wrought in his own field if investigation before the dawn of 2001 – a century from now. These opinions I have carefully transcribed.

Five Hundred Million People. There will probably be from 350,000,000 to 500,000,000 people in America and its possessions by the lapse of another century. Nicaragua will ask for admission to our Union after the completion of the great canal, Mexico will be next, Europe, seeking more territory to the south of us, will cause many of the South and Central American republics to be voted into the Union by their own people.[1]

The American will be Taller by from one to two inches. His increase of stature will result from better health due to vast reforms in medicine, sanitation, food and athletics. He will live fifty years instead of thirty five as at present – for he will reside in the suburbs. The city house will practically be no more. Buildings in blocks will be illegal. The trip from suburban home to office will require a few minute only. A penny will pay the fare.[2]

There will be No C, X, or Q in our every-day alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary. Spelling by sound will have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of condensed words expression condensed ideas and will be more extensively spoken than any other. Russian will rank second.[3]

Hot and Cold Air from Spigots. Hot or cold air will be turned on from spigots to regulate the temperature of a house as we now turn on hot or cold water from spigots to regulate the temperature of the bath. Central plants will supply this cool air and heat to the city house in the same way as now our gas or electricity is furnished. Rising early to build the furnace fire will be a task of the olden times. Homes will have no chimneys, because no smoke will be created within their walls.[4]

No Mosquitoes nor Flies. Insects screens will be unnecessary. Mosquitoes, house-flies and roaches will have been practically exterminated. Boards of health will have destroyed all mosquito haunts and breeding-grounds, drained all the stagnant pools, filled in all swamp-lands, and chemically treated all still-water streams. The extermination of the horse and its stable will reduce the house-fly.[5]

Ready-cooked Meals will be Bought from establishments similar to our bakeries of to-day. They will purchase materials in tremendous wholesale quantities and sell the cooked foods at a price mush lower than the cost of individual cooking. Food will be served hot or cold to private houses in pneumatic tubes or automobile wagons. The meal being over, the dishes used will be packed and return to the cooking establishments where they will be washed. Such wholesale cookery will be one in the electric laboratories rather than in kitchens. These laboratories will be equipped with electric stoves and all sorts of electric devices, such as coffee-grinders, meat-saws, potato-mashers, lemons squeezers, dish-washers, dish-dryers and the like. All such utensils will be washed in chemicals fatal to disease microbes, Having one’s own cook and purchasing one’s own food will be an extravagance.[6]

No Foods will be exposed. Storekeepers who expose food to air breathed out by patrons or to the atmosphere of the busy streets will be arrested with those who sell stale or adulterated produce. Liquid-air refrigerators will keep great quantities of food fresh for long intervals.[7]

Coal will no be used for Heating or Cooling. It will be scarce, but not entirely exhausted. The earth’s hard coal will last until the year 2050 or 2100; its soft-coal mines will last until 220 or 2300. Meanwhile both kinds of coal will become more and more expensive. Man will have found electricity manufactured by water-power to be much cheaper. Every river of creek with any suitable fall will be equipped with water-motors, turning dynamos, making electricity. Along with seacoast will be numerous reservoirs continually filled by waves and tides wading in. Out of these the water will be constantly falling over revolving wheels. All of our restless waters, fresh and salt, will thus be harnessed to do the work which Niagara is doing today: making electricity for heat, light and fuel.[8]

There will be no Street Cars in Our Large Cities. All hurry traffic will be below or high above ground when brough within city limits. In most cities will be confined to broad subways or tunnels, well lighted and well ventilated or to high trestles with “moving-sidewalks” stairways leading to the top. These underground or overhead streets will teem with capacious automobile passengers coaches and freight wagons, with cushioned wheels. Subways or trestles will be reserved for express trains. Cities, therefore, will be free from all noises.[9]

Photographs will be Telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later. Even to-day photo photographs are being telegraphed over short distances. Photographs will reproduce all of Nature’s colors.[10]

Trains one Hundred and Fifty miles an Hour. trains will run two miles a minute, normally; express trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour. to go from New Your to San Francisco will take a day and a night by fast express. there will be cigar-shaped electric locomotives hauling long trains of cars. Cars will, like houses, be artificially cooled. Along with the railroads there will be now smoke, no cinders because coal will eight be carried nor burned. There will be no stops for water. Passengers will travel through hot or dusty country regions with the windows down.[11]

Automobiles will be Cheaper than Horses are to-day. Farmers will own automobile hay-wagons, automobile truck-wagons, plows, harrows and hay-rakes. A one-pound motor in one of these vehicles will do the work of a pair of horses or more. Children will ride in automobile sleighs in winter. Automobiles will have been substituted for every horse vehicle now known. There will be, as already exist to-day, automobile hearses, automobile police patrols, automobile ambulances, automobile street sweepers. The horse is harness will be as scarce, if, indeed, not even scarcer, then as the yoked ox is to-day.[12]

Everybody will Walk Ten Miles. Gymnastics will begin in the nursery, where toys and games will be designed to strengthen the muscles. Exercise will be compulsory in the schools. Every school, college and community will have a complete gymnasium. All cities will have public gymnasiums. A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling.[13]

To England in Two days. like those of the sleigh. these runners will be very Fast electric ships, crossing the ocean at more than a mile a minute, will go from New York to Liverpool in two days. The bodies of these ships will be built above the waves. They will be supported upon runners, some what buoyant. Upon their undersides will be apertures expelling jets of are. In this way a film of will be kept between them and the water’s surface. This film, together with the small surface of the runners, will reduce friction against the waves beneath and the air above. Shops with cabins artificially cooled with be entirely fire-proof. In storm they will dive below the water and there await fair weather. [14]

There will be Air-Ships, but they will not successfully compete with surface cars and water vessels for passenger or freight traffic. They will be maintained as deadly war-vessels by all military nations. Some will transport men and goods. Others will be used by scientists making observations at great heights above the earth.[15]

Aerial War-Ship and Forts on Wheels. Giant guns will shoot twenty-five miles or more and will hurl anywhere within such a radius shells exploding and destroying whole cities. Such guns will be aimed by aid of compasses when used on land or sea, and telescopes when directed from great heights. Fleets of air-ships hiding themselves with dense, smoky mists, thrown off by themselves as they move, will float over cities, fortifications, camps or fleets. They will surprise foes below by hurling upon them deadly thunderbolts. These aerial war-ships will necessitate bomb-proof forts, protected by great steel plates over their tops as well as at their sides. Hugh forts on wheels will dash across open spaces at the speed of express trains of to-day. They will make what are now known as cavalry charges. Great automobile plows will dig deep intrenchments as fast as soldiers can occupy them. Rifles will use silent cartridges. Submarine boats submerged for days will be capable of wiping a while navy off the face of the deep. Balloons and flying machines will carry telescopes of one-hundred mile vision with camera attachments, photographing an enemy withing that radius. These photographs, as distinct and enlarged as if taken from across the street, will be lowered to the commanding officer in charge of troops below.[16]

There will be no wild animals except in menageries. Rats and mice will have been exterminated. The horse will have become practically extinct. A few of high breed will be kept by the rich for racing, hunting and exercise. The automobile will have driven out the horse. Cattle and sheep will have no horns. They will be unable to run faster than the fattened hog of to-day. A century ago the wild hog could outrun a horse. Food animals will be bred to expend practically all their life energy in producing meat, milk, wool and other by-products. Horns, bones, muscles and lungs will have been neglected.[17]

Man will see around the world. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought withing focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span. American audience in their theatres will view upon high curtains before them the coronations of kings of Europe or the progress of battles in the Orient. The instruments bringing these distant scenes to the very doors of people will be connected with a giant telephone apparatus transmitting each incidental sound in its appropriate place. Thus the guns of a distance battle will be heard to boom when seen to blaze and thus the lips of a remote actor of singer will be heard to utter words of music when seen to move.[18]

Telephones Around the World. Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. We well be able to telephone to China quite as readily as we now talk from New York to Brooklyn. By an automatically signal they will connect with an circuit in their locality without the intervention of a “hello girl.” [19]

Grand Opera will be Telephoned to private homes, and will sound as harmonious as though enjoyed from a theatre box. Automatic instruments reproducing original airs exactly will being the best music to the families of the untalented. Great musicians gathered in one inclousre in New York will, by manipulated electric keys, produce at the same time music from instruments arranged in theatres or halls in San Fransisco or New Orleans, for instance. This will great bands and orchestras give long-distance concerts. In great cities there will be public opera-houses who’s singer and musicians are paid from funds endowed by philanthropists and by the government. The piano will be capable of changing its tone from cheerful to sad. Many devices will add to the emotional effect of music.[20]

How Children Will be Taught. A university education will be free to every man and woman. Several great national university will have been established. Children will study a simple English grammar adapted to simplified English, and not copied after the Latin. Time will be saved by grouping like studies. Poor students will be given free board, free clothing and free books if ambitious and actually unable to meet their school and college expenses. Medical inspectors regularly visiting the public schools will furnish poor children free eyeglasses, free dentistry and free medical attention of every kind. The very poor will, when necessary, get free rides to and from school and free lunched between sessions In vacation time poor children will be taken on trips to various parts of the worlds. Etiquette and housekeeping will be important studies in the public schools.[21]

Store Purchases by Tube. Pneumatic tubes, instead of stores wagons, will deliver packages and bundles. These tubes will collect, deliver and transport mail over certain distance, perhaps for hundreds of miles. the will at first connect with the private houses of the wealthy; then with all homes. Great business establishments will extend them to stations, similar to our branch posy-offices of to-day, whence fast automobile vehicles will distribute purchases from house to house.[22]

Vegetables Grown by Electric. Winter will be turned into summer and night into day by the farmer. In cold weather he will place heat-conducting electric wires under the soil of his garden and thus warm his growing plants. He will also grow large gardens under glass. At night his vegetables will be bathed in powerful electric light serving, like sunlight, to hasten their growth. Electric currents applied to the soil will make valuable plants grow larger and faster and will kill troublesome weeds. Rays of colored light will hasten the growth of many plants. Electricity applied to garden seeds will make them sprout and develop unusually early.[23]

Oranges will grow in Philadelphia. fast-flying refrigerators on land and sea will bring delicious fruits from the tropics and southern temperate zone within a few days. The farmers of South America, South Africa, Australia and the South Sea Islands, whose seasons are directly opposite to ours, will this supply us in the winter with fresh simmer foods which cannon be grown here. Scientists will have discovered how to raise here many fruits now confined to mush hotter or colder climates. Delicious oranges will be grown in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Cantaloupes and other summer fruits will be of such a hard nature that they can be stored through the winter as potatoes are now.[24]

Strawberries large as Apples will be eaten by our great-great-grandchildren for the Christmas dinners a hundred years hence. Raspberries and blackberries will be as large. One will suffice for the fruit course of each person. Strawberries and cranberries and currants will be as large as oranges. One cantaloupe will supply an entire family. Melons, cherries, grapes, plumbs, apples, pears, peaches and all berries will be seedless. Figs will be cultivated over the entire United States.[25]

Peas as Large as beets. Peas and beans will be as large as beets are to-day. Sugar cane will produce twice as much sugar as the sugar beet now does. Cane will once more be the chief source of our sugar supply. The milkweed will have been developed into a rubber plant. Cheap native rubber will be harvested by machinery all over this country. Plants will be made proof against microbes just as readily as man is to-day against smallpox. The soil will be kept enriched by plants which take their nutrition from the air and giver fertilizer to the earth.[26]

Black, Blue and Green Roses. Roses will be as large as cabbage heads. Violets will grow to the size of orchids. A pansy will be as large in diameter as a sunflower. A century ago the pansy measure but a half an inch across its face. There will be black, blue and green roses. It will be possible to grow any flower in any color and to transfer the perfume of an scented flower to another which is odor less. Then may the pansy be given the perfume of the violet.[27]

Few Drugs will be Swallowed or taken into the stomach unless needed for the direct treatment of that organ itself. Drugs needed by the lung, for instance, will be applied directly to those organs through the skin and flesh. They will be carried with the electric current applied without pain to the outside skin of the body. Microscopes will lay base the vital organs, through the living flesh, of men and animals. The living body will to all medical purposes be transparent. Not only will it be possible for a physician to actually see a living, throbbing heart inside the chest, but he will be able to magnify and photography any part of it. This work will be done with rays of invisible light. [28]


[1] – US population: According to census data for 02000 there were ~281,000,000 people living in the US. This was below their estimation, but their estimation was including most of Central America. The unification of the Central and South American countries into the US never occurred. At the turn of the century, there was much speculation about a canal through Nicaragua by the US, this could have lead to the logical conclusion they would join the Union. In 01898 the US fought with Spain over the freedom of Cuba in the Spanish-American War. This also promoted the idea that Europe was exploiting its territories and that they would be better off joining the US instead. Also, in the 15 years prior to the writing of writing of this article, 7 states joined the Union, which could lead to the assumption that it would just keep growing and growing.

[2] – Taller Americans: From the brief research I did, wikipedia has a table of average height of troops by country in the mid-01900s the US, on average, was 171 cm. In 02003-02006 the average measured height of a US male was approximately 176cm, a 5 centimeter increase, which is about 2 inches. How they arrived at 1-2 inches was probably an arbitrary value, they just figured “more” and due to many of the correct reasons, better diet and medical care. As for the rest of the predictions, they were completely wrong. The average life-span world-wide today is closer to 70 years, not the 55 they predicted and in the US it is closer to 77-80 years old.

Their notion of living in the suburbs was predicated on cheap, fast transportation. Mass-transit didn’t seem to take-off as planned. The New York subway, the oldest subway system wasn’t start until 01904, 3 years after the writing of this article. In fact, today more people world-wide live in cities than in rural areas. Housing blocks and higher density living is more efficient, it saves spaces and reduces waste and travel. Most of their distaste for urban living was probably as a direct conclusion of the industrial revolution. There would have still been a lot of steam power, black smoke and poor sanitation in the city.

[3] – Spelling reform: At the time, there was a big push to begin to move away from British spelling to the more simple American spelling. By reducing the number of duplicate sounds and complex spellings, it was assumed that the language would be easier to read. They also predict that the language would condense words and ideas. In contrast, English is adding more and more new words every year. Their prediction of English being the most spoken, followed by Russian (not sure why Russian?) was off the mark. English is the 3rd most popular language following Spanish in 2nd and Mandarin Chinese as #1.

To see how spelling reform would work, there is a short film about it http://www.houseind.com/movie/

[4] – Hot and cold air spigots: Their prediction of the end of wood burning stoves in the home was correct, but not exactly in the way they intended. They are describing a modern day HVAC system, which regulates the temperature in the home. What they got wrong was were the system would be run from, not a centralized system, but instead your local furnace or air conditioner within each home.

[5] – No mosquitoes: This prediction probably arose from the Malaria and Yellow Fever scares. Diseases carried by insects were probably a serious fear and therefore required the eradication. While modern cities do spray for insects and add poisons into standing water to kill insect larva, the prediction of no swamps was one step too far. Wetlands are valuable parts of the ecosystem. We probably know more now about issues with pollutants and natural methods of irrigation than they did 100 years ago.

[6] – Ready-cooked meal: In 1953, the first Frozen TV dinner was created by C.A. Swanson & Sons. This is basically what they are predicting. What they got wrong was the price. They assumed the mass produced food would be cheaper, but they forgot was both the packaging costs and convenience. You pay for the simplicity of a ready made meal, not for the individual ingredients. Also, the whole concept of returning the dishes and cutlery is laughable now, but this would have been before the wide spread use of polystyrene and plastics for disposable wears. Cooking at home never became an extravagance, but then again this magazine’s target audience was the house wife, to them, this might have been a dream come true.

[7] – No food exposed to air: While today many foods are wrapped in plastic, boxed-up and sealed, they are done so not due to air exposure, but more for tampering and simply packaging reasons. The air-quality at the turn of the century was most likely very poor from factories, trains and river boats. Coal suet was probably strong in the air.

[8] – Alternative fuels: Their predictions for how long coal reserves would last turned out to be overly optimistic. They did foresee the need for alternative power sources such as hydro-electric. They missed the popular wind-power and did not conceive of solar or other alternative power sources.

[9] – No Street Cars in Our Large Cities: Much of what they are describing is true. Subway systems are put out of sight below ground. Boston and other cities are beginning to move highway lanes below the city so the above ground could be re-used for parks, homes and businesses. What they missed was “the last mile”. They expected no traffic within the city, but product deliveries would not be able to use the same express train as people and express trains are express because of the few stops. Not everyone works in the same place, so there will always be alternative transportation for that “last mile”, beit by foot, bike, car or taxi. The streets will never be free from all noise and congestion. The other strange prediction was the cushioned wheels. It is cited that 1887 was the first bicycle to use pneumatic tires rather than hard metal or wood rims. Early cars probably repurposed wooden wagon wheels. In the early 01900s more inner tube tires hit the market. This might have been a prediction that was already in circulation, just not widely or not with automobiles.

[10] – Advances in Photography: Color photography was probably an easy prediction, the first known color photograph was James Clerk Maxwell’s 1861. The more interesting prediction was the snapshots being transmitted world-wide. Fax machines became realistically possible in the 01970s, but even then it was more for text data rather than scanned documents or images. Even up until the proliferation of digital photography color photographs were taken and sent on “the next flight out” to newspaper headquarters to be added into stories and printed that evening. Digital photography is what has made this possible, and it is probably something they had not conceived.

[11] – Fast trains: The expectation of faster more reliable trains would have made complete sense in 1900. This is because automobiles were still in their infancy, no paved roads existed coupled with the fact that the Wright brothers had not yet made their historical flight. The only major competition to the train was the hot-air ballon. Passenger trains in the US have all but gone extinct.

[12] – Price of cars: While a basic car in parts and labor is probably cheaper than a horse, there are several reasons this is not really true. The use of horses has decreased, so the overall price as increased. Mass-production of cars has certainly driven the price down, but these futurists did not prediction two important factors; obsolescence and feature creep. Products are designed to break and not be repaired, which effects the overall price. Feature creep can easily be seen today in Digital camera and mobile phones. The parts used to make these devices drops further and further each year, but the overall price does not. This is because now you get more “stuff” in a new phone for the same price. This drives upgrades and keeps the price consistently high. The same has happened to automobiles, more and more features (along with minimum government standards and marketing budgets) have prevented the price of a car to become less than a horse.

[13] – Ten miles a day: While slightly Utopian, the exercises regime never happened. The number or miles someone walks is probably directly proportional to the price of a car or horse, or that 1 cent fair into the city.

[14] – High-speed boat travel: The hydrofoil style ship they are describing has since been built, but not one that dips below the surface to avoid bad weather. There are a few prototype one-man boats which do this, but not to the scale they’re predicting. The first prototype hydrofoil wasn’t build until 1909, but was modeled 10 years prior, so this crazy and promise for a better ship might have been the impetus for this prediction.

What they didn’t foresee was that powered flight was just around the corner. Today, a trip to England from New York by plane takes about 6-8 hrs rather than their predicted 2 days.

[15] – Airships: For awhile there was a romantic attachment to lighter than air travel, but in 1937 with the Hindenburg disaster, it ended the era. As a military tool, airships never really took off, probably due to their slow maneuverability and the invention of aircraft and missiles. Ironically, over 100 years later, airships are making a resurgence as an alternative fuel craft for reconnoissance and shipping by the military.

The prediction about making scientific observations by balloon from great heights was probably prompted by the 1896 weather balloon tests of Leon Teisserenc de Bort. Given that these activities were already in practice, it was not hard for them to make this prediction.

[16] – Moving forts: This is pre-WWI, “The Great Trench War”. The prediction of a fast moving fort could be interpreted as a tank, first used by the Germans in 1911. Today, the floating cities idea seems contrived and something you’d only see in a movie. This is probably due to our knowledge of other military devices such as the missile or the jet. The gun that can shoot for 25 or more miles is a hold-over from trench warfare, the missile and modern warfare changed all of this.

[17] – No wild animals: This one seems very far out to me. Maybe it is that ideal pristine wilderness where you have no worries? Today we have only explored 1% of our oceans, how could off all these animals become extinct? Animals, as we know now, are vital to the ecosystem, insects and birds spread pollen and seeds for plants.

As a historical note, the term “Zoo” did not enter the American vernacular until 01891 when the Washington D.C. “Zoological Park” was opened.

[18] – Man will see around the world: This is not literally of course, but aided by technology. What they are describing is television 25-30 years before it was invented. While this is the next logical extension of radio, it was probably a novel idea at its time combining audio and photography into one thing. The distribution idea of two connected devices on opposite ends won’t scale, so the infrastructure needs to be examined, but the concept does work.

[19] – Phones around the world: While technologically possible years ago, only most recently has the price of international phone calls become so cheap that it has become feasible to set-up call centers in far away foreign lands.

[20] – Opera through the phone: What they are describing is a combination of a radio and a player piano. Remotely controlling instruments via the telephone. The radio was invent in 01893, but the US did not start commercial broadcasts until the 01920s, so you could see how this prediction would make sense on some levels.

[21] – Education: This was a bit of a Utopian dream that never really explained or thought through who was going to pay for this. Many of these predictions didn’t come to fruition such as free dentistry and medical attention.

[22] – Tubes to homes: There must have been a pneumatic tube fever at the time. Paris originally experimented with a pneumatic system for inter-telegraph messages, instead of wires, but found the system did not scale. What the futurists seemed to miss, is that with cars cheaper than horses, this is how the distribution network would be resolved. Tubes would only work for packages of a certain size or smaller, where as a truck can carry any truck-sized or smaller package. What they did seem to get right, is mail-order, which was probably not a new thing in their day either. A modern parallel would be internet shopping. Via a remote service, things are ordered and later delivered to your home, by truck, not tube.

[23] – Vegetable houses: What they are describing is the new construction of greenhouses. The Kew Gardens glasshouse was built 1841. The next logical extension is to run it with electricity in any environment simulating growing seasons. Electricity seems to be the answer to vastly improving all aspects of growth. Today, we are making similar claims at the genetic and nanotech levels.

[24] – Fruit transport: While food transportation is easier and we have greenhouses to artificially simulate tropical environments.

[25] – Giant fruits: Their prediction of apple-sized strawberries did not come true, but the general size of fruits and vegetables might have increased. Without knowing the sizes in 01900, it is difficult to estimate growth. There seem to be two trends in the 21st century, Organic food which is claimed to be healthier, safer, more tasteful and larger vs. genetically modified, which claims to be safer, healthier, more tasteful and larger – somewhat contradictory.

[26] – Vegetable sizes: They make a big deal of sugar in cane and beet forms (this must relate to something of the times). We also forget that it wasn’t until WWII that we began to see synthetic rubber in vast quantities. Disease resistant plants have been genetically engineered, but have their own debated drawbacks and side effects.

[27] – Colored flowers: The coloring of flowers seems like a bit of a contrived use of technology. It is possible in the 21st century to get Roses in tiedye color-schemes, or more simply by adding food coloring into the flower’s water, you can induce a color change. What they seem to be hinting at more, is selective breeding, to make any flower any color or smell. This century’s answer to this, is genetic manipulation of the flower as a seed. While I don’t know if this has been done, I see no reason (except economically) why this can’t be.

Given that the target market for Ladies Home Journal, was women at home, the idea of large strange flowers might have been appealing.

[28] – Swallowing drugs: Orally seems to still be the most popular way to consume pills today, much of the other ideas have come to fruition. Again, somehow electricity could be used to solve this problem, without further explanation. The X-Ray machine had been known before 01901, but was still very premature. So while the prediction of invisible light was not so radical, in fact this was less of a 100 prediction and more of a 10 year one.