How far have humans progressed since 1967? How far has the Soviet Union progressed since 1967? The answers to those questions would probably disappoint the 1967 residents of Novosibirsk in Siberia who buried a time capsule in that year, filled with relics and messages to future humans, to be opened on the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution in 2017. That day has arrived. Were any of their predictions even close?
“We know, our time is interesting, but yours is more interesting. We have built communism, and you are living under communism.”
Boy, talk about a major disappointment right out of the box. In 1967, things were looking pretty good for the USSR. Its satellite republics were under control; its space program was at least neck-and-neck with the U.S.; the Cold War was looking good with the Berlin Wall up and the U.S. mired in Vietnam. How could things have fallen apart in just 50 years?
“We believe that you have masterfully outfitted our wonderful blue planet, the Earth, explored the Moon and landed on Mars, that you are continuing the exploration of space started by the people of the first half of the century and that your starships have been long prowling the Galaxy.”
Well, one out of five isn’t bad … although technically only U.S. astronauts have explored the Moon. Earth wasn’t exactly that ‘blue’ in 1967 and fossil fuels are still contributing to the 50 shades of grey seen from any of the thousands of satellites peering down at it. At least more countries have joined the space program since 1967. However, the time capsule creators were expecting one more inhabitant of Earth’s space by now:
“We believe you are negotiating cultural and scientific cooperation with representatives of other, extraterrestrial civilizations.”
Well, not that we know of. In fact, we’re not exactly doing a great job of negotiating cultural and scientific cooperation with representatives of other countries, let alone other galaxies. Would they be proud to know that basically the same technology they were using in 1967 is still in use in Russia performing the reliable yet mundane task of shuttling space scientists to a laboratory that has never left Earth’s orbit? Would they be excited to know that private space enterprises are bigger news in 2017 that Starship Enterprises?
What was it that these people saw in 1967 that we 2017-ers no longer see today? What gave them such optimism and hope that dissipated in just 50 short years? The quest for profits over knowledge? The push for military missiles over spaceships?
“We know, our time is interesting, but yours is more interesting.”
What should we write back to our ancestors? Sorry? Oops? Give us another 50 years? Whatever? Excuse me, but I just got a text?