By Emma Mitchell • 26 August 2023 • 9:00
Time Travel. Credit: Image by Genty from Pixabay
The last 50 years have seen massive changes in technology, medicine, geo-politics and many other areas of life. We tend not to notice the changes as we experience them slowly and incrementally, but what if a freak phenomenon resulted in a group of people around Europe going to sleep in 1973 and waking up in 2023?
Otto wakes up in 2023, leaves his house in Berlin and is perplexed by the number of people walking past tapping away at what appears to be hand-held calculators. Unless everyone has become an accountant overnight, something else must be going on.
He is so distracted as he walks down Dresdener Straße that it takes a few moments to notice that something is missing. Something large. The Berlin Wall in fact; it’s simply not there. What Otto doesn’t know is that he no longer lives in the German Democratic Republic, that the wall came down in 1989 and he now lives in the democratic Federal Republic of Germany. He also has no idea that the USSR no longer exists.
As a scientist, Otto is familiar with the concept of DNA, the structure of which was discovered in 1953. Whilst asleep however, he has missed the first sequencing of a genome in 1977, the genetic alteration of crops in the 1980s, the first complete sequencing of the human genome in the 2000s and the fact that DNA can now be used to diagnose an array of single-gene disorders in human embryos.
He may well think he’s still dreaming if he learnt that Dolly the Sheep was the first cloned animal and that the boffins at Harvard University are planning to recreate the Woolly Mammoth.
In Alicante, Paloma wakes up in 2023 also none the wiser that she now lives in a democratic country. She goes to get the morning bread and is flummoxed when her Pesetas are rejected; she has missed the Spanish currency being replaced by the Euro in 2002.
Little does she know, but Paloma has woken up with many more rights as a woman than she had when she went to sleep in 1973. Now she no longer needs her father or husband’s permission to have a bank account, get a job or travel. She can also own property solely in her name.
Paloma’s favourite TV show is ‘Tres eran tres’ and she always makes sure she’s sitting down with a coffee when it’s about to start. She will be delighted when she learns that in 2023 TV is on demand and she can watch whatever she wants, whenever she wants and even turn on Spanish subtitles for shows from other countries.
In 1973 Paloma is married to a man she doesn’t particularly want to be with because, in fact, Paloma is a lesbian – something she had to keep to herself because same sex activities were illegal in Spain, as was divorce. She will be delighted to learn that not only can she now be openly lesbian but she can divorce her husband thanks to a change in the law in 1981, and since 2005 enjoy a same sex marriage.
John wakes up on the Isle of Dogs in East London and leaves for his regular bacon sarnie at the local café. Like Otto, he also notices everyone using what looks like calculators to tap away at, but some people are also talking on them so he deduces they must be some type of phone.
He’s immediately disorientated because the warehouses and terraces of the Isle of Dogs are gone; replaced by glittering skyscrapers and glitzy looking apartment blocks. Narrowly avoiding being run-over by a car with a completely silent engine, he ducks into a newsagent thinking he’ll pick up a trusty A-Z of London, only to find there are none. The advent of the Internet has rendered maps redundant; everyone in 2023 is used to navigating with apps and systems that use satellites to geo-locate and the Internet to give real-time updates on traffic and conditions.
Hailing a passing black cab, he climbs in and complains that he feels as though he’s woken up in a different time. “I had that Scottish fella who played Doctor Who in the back of my cab once.” replied the driver, thereby proving the old adage that some things always stay the same. Taking his change from a £20, John is hit by another bizarre thing; these coins have a King’s head on them!
Had the taxi ride been longer, the cabbie may have got round to his favourite subject of Brexit which would have completely confused John because, when he fell asleep in 1973, the UK had only just joined the EU.
With all these new discoveries, the day has been exhausting for Otto, Paloma and John. Just wait until they discover that since 1995 there are blue M&Ms!
If we fell asleep today and woke up in 2073, what changes will have taken place in those 50 years of slumber and will they be as big as the changes in the last 50 I wonder? Social Media always has its money on cats developing opposable thumbs, taking over the planet and keeping human slaves to mow the feline overlords’ cat nip lawns. Other people believe that we’ll see the first completely infallible self-service supermarket check-out; but frankly that’s just madness.
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Emma landed in journalism after nearly 30 years as an executive in the Internet industry. She lives in Bédar and her interests include raising one eyebrow, reckless thinking and talking to people randomly. If you have a great human interest story you can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org
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