Scientific discovery and technical innovation have a life cycle that start from near-magical breakthroughs and progresses to mundane unthinking assumptions about how our world works. Like a fish unable to recognize the water it swims in, we forgot how amazing STEM has remade our lives. In contrast, the world of today would be an unimaginable scientific fantasy for my eldest grandfather who was born around 1870.
Everything have been revolutionized from the basic ways we grow food, provide medical care, and travel to the complex and sophisticated ways we network to collaborate, research, create and distribute ever-new products, services and knowledge.
Technologies central to our lives today were still years from being invented at the time of my grandfather’s birth. In many cases these technologies only became available to the masses decades after being invented (eg approximately 50 years for television broadcast).
1876 – Telephone Patent (Bell)
1879 – First Practical Ligh Bulb (Edison)
1886 – First Gasoline-powered Car (Benz)
1886 – Demonstrated Proof of Radio Waves (Hertz)
1900 – Wireless Radio Broadcast of Human Voice (Landell de Moura)
1901 – First Motorized Aircraft Flight (Weisskopf)
1907 – Bakelite First Plastic (Baekeland)
1909 – First Televised Broadcast (Rignoux and A. Fournier)
1928 – Penicillin (Fleming)
1938 – Z1 First Programmable Computer (Zuse)
1938 – First Nuclear Fission (Hahn)
1942 – V2 Long-range Ballistic Missile (NAZI Military)
1945 – Atomic Bomb (US Military)
1947 – Transistor (Bardeen and Brattain)
1957 – First Personal Computer (IBM)
1958 – First Integrated Circuit (Kilby and Noyce)
1960 – First LASER (Maiman)
1969 – ARAPNET Distributed Computer Network and UNIX invented
1971 – email (Tomlinson)
1984 – Cell Phone (Motorola)
1990 – Internet (Berners-Lee)
1993 – Mosaic Web Browser
Why the year 2043? Because that is year I expect my oldest son to have his own son his age in First LEGO League based upon life expectancy and the demographics of family formation. Another useful back of the napkin estimation using social science and statistics like we saw in our Trash Trek Research Project this past year.
Based upon the accelerating pace of scientific discovery and technological innovation, what kind of First LEGO League (or more likely FTC/FRC) could my grandchildren expect to see? How about this:
How many FLL 2043 Robot Challenge Missions can you identify in this video? For example, picking up two stacked package and putting them on two opposite shelves.