"The Future . . . something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is." - C.S. Lewis
01-01-01 was the 1st day of the 1st month of the 21st Century! It was also the start of the third millennium!
Of course, nearly everyone had already celebrated the beginning of the year 2000 with great enthusiasm. It was a special time, not just the end of the "nineteen-nineties," but it marked an even bigger change in the counting of years. Generally all living people had always spoken the year as "nineteen hundred…," then from one moment to the next, we started to say "two thousand." All four digits of the year got a new value by changing from 1999 to 2000. Many, many generations never witnessed such a turn of the year! This major event was certainly worth celebrating.
Remember all of the Y2K doomsayers who were linking some sort of worldwide catastrophe to the nines turning into zeroes? Luckily we survived the Y2K "crisis", and the end of the year 2000 was cause for celebration again, because the new millennium started on 1/1/2001!
While many people considered the beginning of the year 2000 to be the start of the new millennium, this wasn't logically correct. According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the third millennium officially began on January 1, 2001. White House millennium programs ran from 1997 and will end in 2001.
A millennium is a span of one thousand years. Each one hundred years of a millennium is called a century. Since there was no zero when the precursor to the Gregorian calendar was developed, every historian or mathematician will agree that the first century ran from the years A.D. 1 through A.D. 100, and the first millennium ran from A.D. 1 through A.D. 1000. Then the second millennium began in A.D. 1001. Thus, the third millennium begins in A.D. 2001.
Another way to look at it would be when you count years, you start with the year 1. The first decade ends at the end of the year 10, the first century at the end of the year 100, the first millennium at the end of the year 1000. Therefore the second millennium ended at the end of the year 2000, and the year 2001 is the beginning of the third millennium.
People have always quarreled about when a new century begins. As far back as 1700 there were intense debates before each turn of the century. One hundred years ago, nearly all official fixings were made for 1/1/1901, except in Germany, by the desire of Kaiser Wilhelm II.
To add to the confusion, the Gregorian calendar was created to mark the years from the time of the birth of Jesus ("anno domini," Latin for "in the year of our Lord", abbreviated A.D.). Most theologians and historians now agree that the correct birth date was actually 4 or 5 B.C., which means the 2000th birthday of Jesus Christ occurred in 1996 or 1997. Consequently, the "real" millennium already passed by with most people not even realizing it.
So does it matter when we celebrate the millennium? Not really. The fact that most people celebrated it at the end of 1999 is neither correct nor incorrect. So if you haven't-and even if you have-why not celebrate (again)! Greeting a new millennium is a once-in-a-thousand years occasion-a great reason to have more than one celebration! The year 2001 has only just begun!
Back to the Future: Predictions from the Past
Nostradamus, the 16th Century French soothsayer, predicted that in the year 1999 "A great king of terror will come from the sky," leading historians to believe he was referring to an apocalyptic meteorite. However, his predictions were so cryptic they could be interpreted to mean anything.
Jules Verne, author of the classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 80 Days, wrote a novel about a "perfect" world in the year 2000. An Ideal City was Verne's vision of the future, in which streets are cleaned automatically, bachelors are taxed to encourage marriage, and babies get their milk from steam-driven breastfeeding machines. Verne also wrote another 19th-century vision of life in the 20th century. Paris in the 20th Century, completed in 1863, describes skyscrapers of glass and steel, high-speed trains, gas-powered automobiles, calculators, fax machines, and a global communications network. It should be noted that Verne was as concerned with social issues as he was with futuristic inventions. Like George Orwell's 1984, Verne's novel is a grim and troubling commentary on the human costs of technological progress.
Edward Bellamy's novel Looking Backward 2000-1887 was a best-selling book when it was published in 1888. The narrator of Looking Backward awakens in Boston in the year 2000 after having fallen asleep in 1887. He finds that the civilization of 2000 has radio, electric lights, clean air, full employment, retirement at age 45 on a good income, and community centers with enclosed sidewalks for protection against the weather. Bellamy's utopian vision of the year 2000 saw in America a society of extreme interdependence and organization in which all needs were met, and where selfless love, unity, and happiness were omnipresent.
Metropolis, Fritz Lang's 1926 German silent film, painted a dark portrait of society in the futuristic year 2000. In the film, the privileged class hires a scientist to design a robot to spy on the underground working class to prevent a rebellion. The robot, which looks and acts just like a real human being, incites a riot, and disaster ensues. Thanks to the boss' son who happens to be in love with one of the workers (coincidentally the same woman who the robot is modeled after), peace is achieved as he becomes a mediator between the ruling and working classes.
George Orwell's novel masterpiece, written in 1949 and entitled 1984, has endured in popularity long after that year has come and gone. In his prophetic vision of the year 1984, the world has split into three separate super countries and the economy of each is based on war with another. The figurehead leader of The Party is a person known only as Big Brother. The Thought Police monitor everyone, everywhere, through the use of videocameras. Telescreens are used to broadcast party propaganda as well as to control reality itself. They do this by altering the past, and confusing people's thoughts through the use of doublethink. Examples of this can be found in The Party's slogans: "War is Peace," "Slavery is Freedom," and "Ignorance is Strength."
The science fiction movie classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey, was scripted by Stanley Kubrick in collaboration with Arthur C. Clarke between 1964-1967. The main plot begins in the year 2000, and fast-forwards to a year-and-a-half later, in 2001. The movie shows satellites orbiting the earth, a space shuttle that transports passengers, a wheel-shaped space station that serves as a way-station for travelers commuting to the moon, and a manned spaceship on a journey to Jupiter. The spaceship is run with the help of HAL 9000, the most sophisticated computer ever devised. (Move each letter forward one letter in the alphabet and you will recognize the initials!) HAL can talk and seems to have a mind of his own-which, as it turns out, is not a good thing.
In 1967, Herman Kahn (most well-known for his ominous treatise On Thermonuclear War) co-authored a book with Anthony J. Wiener, entitled The Year 2000: A Framework for Speculation. This 431-page volume, complete with charts, graphs, and tables of figures, presented a general picture of the direction in which the Western world appeared to be heading, and "surprise-free" scenarios for the future. He predicted that Americans would become increasingly prosperous, and that improved technology would alleviate the problems of pollution and the depletion of natural resources. At the same time, he believed that an irresponsible educational system, by failing to teach discipline and good work habits, would create "educational incapacity," and decrease many people's ability to deal with real-life problems.
In 1973, a German journalist named Robert Jungk published a book called Millennial Man in which he argued that scientific and technical research had caused a crisis that would become deeper by the year 2000. He feared that the militarists and big business firms who dominate research on future technologies would create another Hiroshima. He encouraged ordinary citizens to get involved, and suggested that future catastrophes could be prevented if all the consequences of proposed actions were to be considered, not just whether something was possible or probable.
Walter Cronkite once hosted a TV show called The 21st Century. Here is what he had to say about the 20th century and beyond in the spring of 1996 (from Cronkite Remembers): "Well, it was quite a century, the best of times, the worst of times; and as we run down now toward the end of it, we can all recite our litany of despair: overpopulation; pollution; a faltering educational system; the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer; racial tension; drugs; too many guns. But you know, if there's anything I've learned, it is that we Americans do have a way of rising to the challenges that confront us. Just when it seems we're most divided, we suddenly show a remarkable solidarity. The 20th century may be leaving us with a host of problems, but I've also noted that it does seem darkest before the dawn. There's reason to hope for the 21st century."
Make a Millennium Time Capsule
If you haven't made a millennium time capsule yet, you can still do it now. But hurry! Time's running out! Look around your house and find things that were made in the year 2000 or that have something to do with the year 2000. Here are some ideas:
Year 2000 Fact Sheet (Write down the following information to keep in your time capsule.)
For a long-lasting, archival quality time capsule: Use acid-free paper and polypropylene page protectors for written/printed materials and photos. Choose a metal or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid to keep air and dampness out. The size will depend on how much you are saving. Metal cookie or popcorn tins work well. If you have a lot of stuff, you can use a plastic bucket with a gamma seal lid. (The kind used for long-term wheat storage.) Put a drying compound (activated charcoal, baking soda, or silica gel desiccant) in the container to absorb any moisture. For extra protection, seal around the edges with duct tape. Place a label on it with your name, date, and instructions ("Peter's 2000 Time Capsule: Do not open till 20 years from now.") Store the container in a cool, dry place. Keep it for your kids to see what life was like in the year 2000.
For an inexpensive time capsule with a shorter life span: Use an empty cornmeal or oatmeal container, a shoebox, or a cardboard box. Cover the outside of the box or container with decorative paper or foil. Seal it by taping a strip of paper over the top of the lid and down the sides. Sign and date the seal. Another kind of time capsule might be in the form of a scrapbook, or a collection of memorabilia stored in a large Ziploc bag. A time capsule doesn't have to be buried in the backyard. You can keep it on a shelf or in a closet. As early as one year from now, you may want to open up your time capsule to see how you have changed-and stayed the same.
http://www.yorktownhistory.org/homepages/1900_predictions.htm - Predictions of the Year 2000 from The Ladies Home Journal of December 1900, a fascinating article by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. with 29 predictions on “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years.”
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