The Future of Photography: The "Flying Car" Problem

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by entropicremnants, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    Real Name:
    John Griggs
    I've been thinking about the future and we have a few threads discussing the future of mirrorless here and on our sister forums.

    But prognostication is often futile. Remember how everybody thought we'd be in flying cars before the turn of the millenia? And there were many other fails, lol.

    I have a copies of the Life Library of Photography from 1972 and one of the volumes is called "Frontiers of Photography" and I'd like to quote a few predictions from that book to show how little we can really tell about the future.

    I'll do this as a series of posts in this thread. Here's the first couple which discuss the limits of the 35mm SLR for "instant photography" since the photo would be too small to be useful for most things:

    "What is needed is not so much an instant picture as an instant enlargement. Would such a thing be possible? Apparently it would, the research scientists hint. They do not say how it might work, but some guesses are possible. Perhaps, for example, the printing paper could be made of materials that expand as they dry. Then the picture would stretch to the desired size before the photographer's very eyes."

    And this one from a discussion with Dr. Land of Polaroid:

    "And why not an all-purpose film -- from which his camera or his home developer could turn out negatives, transparencies, or prints in either black-and-white or in perfect, faithful color? They would be self-enlarging prints that would expand of their own accord -- at least until the photographer signaled them to stop. Is all this a ludicrous fantasy? 'Not at all,' said Land. 'In fact, it's conservative.' "
  2. juangrande

    juangrande Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 2, 2012
    Yes we would be living like the Jetsons by 2000! The micro chip did it!
  3. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    Real Name:
    John Griggs
    Some speculated that the increasing cost and scarcity of metallic silver would make film impractical. In fact, it does appear to be one of the drivers in R&D to find a replacement for silver based films including digital imaging, photosensitive ceramics, and this promising process that never saw the light of day as a practical process.

    "Another promising breakthrough in the research for silver-saving methods was made in 1968 by Edith Weyde. In her laboratory at the Agfa factory at Leverkusen-Bayerwerk, Germany, she determined that a weak image delivered by a low-silver film could be strengthened by a tiny application of the common chemical hydrogen peroxide. After the low-silver film is processed it is exposed to peroxide vapor and then heated. Tiny oxygen bubbles immediately form in the film emulsion and increase the density and contrast of the image. So little silver material is used in the process that the developed film does not need fixing or washing. Moreover, film treated in this way gains speed, it's ASA rating increases about 10 times. Thus the low-silver film has a higher speed and is easier to process."
  4. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    Mr Land got it right....

    thats exactly what we have with digital

    and we have hit the 10 times ASA/ISO

  5. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    Real Name:
    John Griggs
    Also mentioned was that lenses could be implemented as a single piece of flat glass by varying the optical properties throughout the glass to create the necessary refraction in a single piece of glass...

    "The need for multiple elements could be eliminated if refractive index could be varied as easily as a surface contour. Within a single element, gradations in the index would bend light rays first one way, then another, to realize the designer's objective. One method of producing such controlled variations within glass has been explored in French atomic energy laboratories: bombardment with nuclear radiation. If this were pursued to success, the long, heavy, multielement lens could be replaced by a single element."

    Now keep in mind that when this went to print zoom lenses had only been in general use in 35mm photography for about a decade and the prime lens still ruled the roost.
  6. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:
    Funny stuff... going back and reading predictions for the year 2000 or 2010 certainly puts things in perspective for just about technology :biggrin:
  7. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I have those books also ... time to dust them off. I'll reaffirm that zooms back then were all slow and terribly unsharp, lenses made from the bottom of Coke bottles we used to say. I bought my first zoom in 2005 and I was pleasantly surprised at the IQ (Canon 70-200 f/4).

  8. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Look on the bright side, at least the nuclear holocaust didn't come! Many predicted that too.

    It is fun to look at those old mags and books and see what they though would be the future. Many things they thought would happen didn't and even more things came to pass that never crossed their minds.

    This reminds me of the Robot Chicken skit of the jetpack. There may be an ad before the video plays.
  9. Zobeid Zuma

    Zobeid Zuma Mu-43 Regular

    May 13, 2013
    Technological progress is always a fascinating subject for me.

    We have a tendency to look at recent advancements and assume more of the same is on the way. Of course Edwin Land would think the future of photography is all about ever-more-wondrous advances in chemistry.

    What about those flying cars, anyhow? The aerodynamic and propulsion problem is not too hard. The control-and-stability problem is solvable nowadays with GPS and computerized controls. That leaves only the air traffic control problem, and it's a doozy. It's the elephant in the room, the thing that flying car advocates never wanted to talk about because they had no answer. However, there's a high-tech control network under development that might, just might, finally allow the flying car to take off. We'll see how that goes.

    AI is another technology that has taken way longer to arrive than almost anyone expected, and yet it's almost certainly still coming. We thought we'd have HAL up and running by 2001? So, that was probably off by a few decades, but it would still be a bad idea to bet against HAL. It's not like research into AI is going to stop anytime soon.

    How about that moon base? That's something where economics and politics stands in the way, not any sort of technical roadblock. If we wanted a moon base badly enough, we'd have one. The world has chosen different priorities.
  10. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
  11. fsuscotphoto

    fsuscotphoto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 15, 2013
    St. Cloud, FL
    Real Name:
  12. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Real Name:
    I love looking back at these old predictions as well. Although it's easy to point out the big misses, I'm often surprised at just how much they sometimes get right.

    For example, in a Popular Mechanics article from 1950, they pretty presciently predicted e-commerce:

    [​IMG]75% /> by picture-phone...

    The article does a pretty good job of predicting the state of health care in the 21st century, including a pretty fair description of CT scan and MRI functionality:
    However, the same article predicts a future in which we will simply hose down our living rooms, which seems completely ludicrous to me:

    [​IMG]75% />
  13. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Real Name:
    I like the hose. I've also eaten at the sawdust diner.
  14. Savas K

    Savas K Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 10, 2013
    I recall the futuristic automobiles depicted in the General Motors exhibit at the 1964 World's Fair. How exciting it was seeing the sleek and aerodynamic shapes compared to the cars of the day. Few back then knew that such exciting new car shapes would be realized in a Ford Pinto.
  15. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:
    I dunno about that, have you ever visited an older Italian lady's house? Everything's already coated in plastic anyway, all that's missing is the drain in the floor :biggrin:

    They did get eCommerce kind of, but on the other hand the technology was totally off. They thought it'd be a video phone so you can interact with the sales lady, instead it's a document with pictures and forms so you can order without ever having to talk to a human being :tongue:
  16. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Refractive Diffractive, YES! Maybe ... reactive programmable diffractive elements.
  17. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Yes - great fun. IIRC, I bought my first serious camera, a used M3, in 1971. :eek: :smile:
  18. RobWatson

    RobWatson Mu-43 Hall of Famer

  19. voltcontrol

    voltcontrol Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 26, 2013
    In some cases we've left the industrial age, in some cases and more importantly in our mindset we stille need to make the move...
  20. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    Flying car problem? What problem?

    [ame=]The Transition(R): - YouTube[/ame]