Popular Science is a pretty reputable publication. It's all right there in the name: This is strictly the most popular science around, folks. None of that weirdo, mascara-wearing fringe stuff allowed at this Science Prom, sonny. If there's going to be any speculation at all within these tomes, it will be a totally reasonable extrapolation of current emerging technologies that -- aw, hell, who are we kidding? The only difference between old-timey Popular Science and B-quality science fiction covers was a pair of heaving green breasts. Need proof? Sure: Here are the most baffling vehicular predictions Popular Science seemed really keen on at the time ...
6Everything Will Evolve into One Giant Wheel
For some reason, Popular Science just could not accept that cars, trains and airplanes were actually viable methods of travel. They looked at the stable, speedy craft of the day and said "Surely these are flashes in the pan. The future is ONE GIANT WHEEL!" And then they laughed and chugged laudanum until they lapsed into a Science Coma.
And we get the appeal, really, we do: But it just seems cruel to use your Inverse Penny-Farthing of Death to mow down those tiny little dudes with their adorable toy cannons. Pick on somebody your own size, Science.
Sometimes he puts playing cards in between the spokes.
This is how much Popular Science was willing to sacrifice for our uni-wheel-based future: They were totally OK with being built into their vehicles permanently, with no possible means of exit.
Men in Black III is looking at a lawsuit from the past future.
We make fun, but you have to admit: The future that Popular Science envisioned -- a hectic, frenetic place full of pencil-mustachioed men being pursued by the ghost bikers from Heavy Metal -- is way cooler than the Priuses and electric trams we ended up with.
5Ground Transport With Propellers
A propeller car? But why, Popular Science? It obviously already has an engine and wheels of at least the same size as, if not bigger than, a normal car's, and in the same places, too! What does using a propeller add to this automobile design, aside from a sexy element of danger? Sure, if you mowed down some neighborhood kids while whiskey-bombing around town in your bright orange plane-car, the victim would be in way too many pieces to ever testify against you, but even for an era when people wanted to ride Hula Hoops into war, that seems unusually reckless.
Primary design influences: Twinkies and Jules Verne.
The only benefit we can see to mounting a giant, completely unshielded propeller on the front of a train in place of an internal engine is that it could conceivably lubricate the tracks with the blood of sleeping hobos.
"Ideally, we want a monorail that constantly crashes into the Empire State Building."
Oh! OK. All right, we're starting to see it now. They wanted to design a form of transport that mimicked a pair of boobies decked out with spinning tassels as closely as possible. We apologize for all that earlier nay-saying, old-timey Science; we're totally on board with that agenda.