Who was the first prophet foreseeing antigravity technology? Jules Verne? H.G. Wells?
We might have to go all the way back 741 years to the first documented prophecy:
By a machine three fingers high and wide and of less size a man could free himself and his friends from all danger of prison and rise and descend.
The prophecy came from medieval times from an English born Franciscan monk and early seer of modern day technologies. Roger Bacon (1214?-1294), born to a wealthy family, was a rebellious and precocious youth. His education explored the scientific frontiers of his superstitious time. In Bacon’s medieval world, God was Big Brother and the theologian his infallible commissar. With big brother watching, he studied at Oxford and the University of Paris, becoming a master of alchemy, astrology, optics, astronomy and mathematics.
Bacon remains one of history’s greatest techno-prophets. One can open the yellowed and flaking pages of his Epistola de Secretis (c. 1269) and find descriptions, in clear and unmistakable language, of modern aircraft, cars, and ships, and the advent of suspension bridges, submarines, and helicopters, which he forecasts thus:
Instruments of flying may be formed in which a man, sitting at his ease and meditating on any subject, may beat the air with his artificial wings after the manner of birds.
With time, Brother Bacon felt the noose of orthodoxy tighten around him. He was sent to prison for his “suspected novelties,” where he languished for fourteen years. He died soon after his release in 1292.
Roger Bacon’s medieval reference to antigravity may have foreseen the success of current experiments with electromagnetic propulsion systems. The Japanese are making promising advances in superconductivity that could see the chief producer of greenhouse gases — the internal combustion engine — go the way of the mammoth in the next 30 years.
(29 November 2010)
Read more about the remarkable Roger Bacon and other techn0-prophets in the following book, click prophecies.