Kennedy Goes Back To The Future

October 29, 2014   |   by Chris Kalaboukis

kennedyhoverboardDoes anyone here remember when President Kennedy announced that we would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade? Probably not – was before most of our time:

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade.

and what happened? We got a man on the moon before the end of the decade…

Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that landed the first humans on the Moon, Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on July 20, 1969, at 20:18 UTC. Armstrong became the first to step onto the lunar surface six hours later on July 21 at 02:56 UTC.

I don’t remember the announcement (wasn’t born yet) but I do remember vaguely something about the US landing on the moon (I was pretty young at the time). If you ever go to Florida and tour these actual ships, you won’t believe that we actually sent people up into space on these rickety things. I for one am surprised by the guts that these people had to push themselves to be able to actually get people to the Moon. The technology seems so backwards now.

Fast forward to 1989, and the movie Back To The Future II, where our intrepid Marty McFly travels to the year 2015 (yep, that’s next year folks) in order to save his kids from, well, I forget the plot. But what everyone remembers is the hoverboard.

Apparently, in the year 2015, we will have figured out anti-gravity to the point where we can build hoverboards which allow us to float over surfaces. While I’m sensing that the technology for a true hoverboard is a little further off, I’m seeing all sorts of interesting products just coming out now, starting to see very early, somewhat functioning prototypes of a true hoverboard. Like this one:

A California startup just built a real, working hoverboard. Arx Pax is attempting to crowdfund the Hendo Hoverboard as a proof of concept for its hover engine technology — it’s not quite the floating skateboard Marty McFly rode through Hill Valley (and the Wild West), but it’s an obvious precursor to the imagined ridable: a self-powered, levitating platform with enough power to lift a fully grown adult.

When I saw this I thought – this is very cool. Its almost like the space race of the 60s, but instead of gaining inspiration from our head of state, we are getting inspiration, (and the drive to build this in time for 2015), from popular media.

It almost makes me think – we should do more stuff like this – present cool, slightly futuristic things in movies and set a REAL date, so that when we start getting close to the date, some enterprising humans take the initiative and try to build the real stuff for the deadline. The deadline is the thing: without the deadline, would people still be dreaming about hoverboards and not trying to build them today?

Just goes to show you: you can get your inspiration and ideas (and deadlines) from any source. You can even set your own.