2001: How Much Did Kubrick Get Right?

Where We Stand Now: Howard Johnsons, whose hotel and restaurant properties in the United States and Canada have been reduced in the past 25 years while its international presence has expanded, seems far off from opening its “Earthlight Room.” So expect no Hojo burgers in space in the near future.

But Hilton is studying the feasibility of opening accommodations 100 miles above terra firma.

“We want to take a hard look at it and see if Hilton can be first into space,” said company spokeswoman Jeannie Datz last year. “It’s certainly not going to happen tomorrow. We’re talking 15 to 20 years down the road, if any of it makes sense.”

Talk About a Commute

What Was Predicted: Moon colonies set up by Americans and Soviets would conduct scientific and commercial enterprises.

Where We Stand Now: So far, the only manmade objects on the moon are the remnants of several landing parties and unmanned craft, some scientific equipment, a barely used lunar car, and a bunch of golf balls. NASA’s plans for a lunar colony to be set up by the mid-1980s were curtailed due to cost and a lack of political will. Given the difficulties just in getting an orbiting space station up and running, a moon base is probably far, far off in the future.

But a recent discovery that there is ice on the moon has kept the dream alive, that man will someday colonize Earth’s satellite, if only as a launching pad for interplanetary travel. Of course, if oil were discovered under the Sea of Tranquility, things would be very different.

Vast Wasteland

What Was Predicted: The communications explosion would cause the venerable British Broadcasting Corp. to expand its broadcast channels, creating “BBC 12.”

Where We Stand Now: The BBC still has only two television channels, but its commercial competitors, as well as dozens of satellite/cable stations, have increased the British television airwaves way beyond the pittance of TV channels that existed in 1968.

But that doesn’t mean the programming has changed much. The No. 1 show in the United Kingdom today is still the long-running soap opera Coronation Street.

What Was Predicted: Portable, flat-screen, clipboard-sized televisions.

Where We Stand Now: Flat-screen plasma displays have already been wedded to TVs and computers, while portable DVD players/viewers and Watchman TVs have been available for some time.

Getting Chills

What Was Predicted: Astronauts on deep space voyages would be kept in hibernation, to preserve resources on the months-long trip to Jupiter.

Where We Stand Now: There have been several advances in discovering the secret of human hibernation, which would make deep-space voyages feasible. Research at North Carolina State University has identified two genes — PL and PDK-4 — that appear to control hibernation by halting carbohydrate metabolism and controlling the production of enzymes that break up stored fatty acids in the body. Researchers are also studying the effects of melatonin on hibernation. Applications of these genetic or hormonal treatments may also include the preservation of donated organs.

Cryogenics — which refers to freezing people to be thawed out later — is pretty much untested, although experiments with frogs suggest that cells reduced in temperature can be resuscitated without damage.

That Does Not Compute

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