Happy “Back to the Future” Day!

November 1989 saw the release of the popular science fiction movie, “Back to the Future Part II.”  In this time-bending adventure, several characters travel to a date far off in the future: October 21, 2015.  With this date now actually upon us, how well did the movie predict our current world and technologies?

BTTF correctly predicted flat-screen televisions that can access a ridiculous number of channels, portable videogames, video conferencing and an obsession with movie sequels.  On the other hand, the movie also thought that by now we would have flying cars, anti-gravity hoverboards and self-lacing shoes.  And it believed that fax machines would continue to be state-of-the-art.  (Remember, the film was released before the rise of the Internet and the Web, if you can believe such a world ever existed).

Several predictions involved areas where Agilent participates.  In the movie’s version of 2015, portable handheld devices could measure a person’s health and vital statistics.  Vehicles were fueled by garbage and compost.  Wet clothes could dry themselves.  And food could be rehydrated within seconds.  These technology marvels may yet become reality in the coming years.

In the meantime, Agilent technologies have helped enable numerous innovations that were once thought impossible.  In the real world of today, a handheld FTIR can analyze chemicals, foods and polymers.  Vehicles can run on non-petroleum biofuels.  We can synthesize DNA.  We can predict whether a medication is likely to help you based on your genetic type.  And clothing can be manufactured from nano-based materials that repel stains.

But you may need to wait a few more years for self-lacing shoes…


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