In 1893, H. G. Wells wrote an
obscure little article called "The Man of the Year Million" in which
he speculated about what the human race of the year 1,000,000 AD would
It's not a very pretty picture.
According to Wells, the development of man's technology has meant that
he relies less and less on his body and more and more on his brain.
Wells argued that just as the invention of the knife and fork has made
the human jaw redundant when it comes to tearing and ripping food
apart, eventually technology will produce machines that will take care
of all of the chewing and digesting of food so that the human
digestive system will be literally as simple as that of an intestinal
parasite that soaks up its food by sitting in a bath of nutrients.
All the modern conveniences,
motorised transportation, and the like will mean that legs, torsos, and
practically all muscles will become useless and will wither away until
our descendents become little more than huge brains that walk about
(when they do walk) on their hands.
And it doesn't stop there.
Working on the principle that what can't be exploited is a competitor,
Wells asserted that once man figures out how to recreate
photosynthesis in the laboratory, then all plants and animals and even
the microbes on the Earth will become pointless or a threat and will
be eradicated in their turn until man is the only creature left on a
It isn't a very cosy place, the
world of 1,000,000 AD. In keeping with the best science of the
day, Wells foresaw a planet that is cooling slowly and relentlessly
until the human race is forced to retreat underground after the
receding warmth of the Earth's core. While the surface is a
lifeless expanse of ice, the cities of our descendants live in reveal,
dome of pure crystal across the translucent surface of which flushes
of the most glorious and pure prismatic colours pass and fade and
change. In the centre of this transparent chameleon-tinted
dome is a circular basin filled with some clear, mobile amber
liquid, and in this plunge and float strange beings. Are they
They are the descendants of
man-- at dinner. Watch them as they hop on their hands-- a
method of progression advocated by Björnsen--
about the pure white marble floor. Great hands they have,
enormous brains, soft, liquid, soulful eyes. Their whole
muscular system, their legs, their abdomens, are shriveled to
nothing, a dangling degraded pendant to their minds.
If this is a condition that can
only be bought at the price of giving up all pork chops and walks in
the woods, I'll hold on to the chops and the trees, thank you.