Oracles, futurists, visionaries--some people make their living by trying to divine the shape of things to come before anybody else. And we all avidly await their predictions

ALBERT EINSTEIN REMARKED IN 1932 THAT "THERE IS NOT THE slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable." Thomas Edison thought alternating current would be a waste of time. Franklin Delano Roosevelt once predicted, when he was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, that airplanes would never be useful in battle against a fleet of ships. There's nothing like the passage of time to make the world's smartest people look like complete idiots. So let's look at a few more. In 1883 Lord Kelvin, president of the Royal Society and no mean scientist himself, predicted that "X rays will prove to...

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