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The much-promised jetpack leads to screaming

30 May 2009

While reading an interesting article on CNN International’s Technology website (via the Facebook newsfeed of Point of Inquiry‘s D.J. Grothe) — about why we don’t have all the cool space-age gadgets we were promised as far back as the 1964 New York World’s Fair — I laughed so hard I had just to share (emphasis mine):

The jet pack, though, has never really taken off, Wilson says. The problem is its practical application. While a rocket belt could propel a screaming human to 60 mph in seconds, its fuel lasted for only about half a minute, “which led to more screaming,” Wilson says…

Nor could a jet pack be of use to ordinary people who wanted to avoid rush-hour traffic, Wilson says. Jet-packing hordes could transform the skies into an aerial demolition derby, with air rage and drunk drivers turned into wobbly human torpedoes.

I recommend reading the article, entitled Why Our ‘Amazing’ Science Fiction Future Fizzled, in its entireity as it’s quite interesting. You’ll probably spot a number of items and concepts from the subsequent 45 years of popular fiction and television.

It also goes some way to dispelling some of the “Where’s my jetpack?” melancholy, which I even remember hearing the character Red say in episodes of That 70’s Show.

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