Author : Becky Kendall

The biggest disappointment for the public around the mid-21st century was when physicists conclusively disproved time travel. Scientists were taken completely by surprise when they realised how many people had believed time travel would be possible at some point in the near future, so they were unprepared for the backlash.

What they hadn’t taken into account was that for most of us – the non-scientists and non-mathematicians – belief in science was just that, a faith, something you accepted because it seemed to be a respected and popular view, but had no way of personally proving. The untrained everyman was as able to understand the theory behind most accepted physics hypotheses as she was able to walk on water. Sure, we accepted that gravity was what stopped us falling off the Earth into the sky, but observing most people try to explain why, or what gravity was, would be enough to make a physicist cry.

What they failed to understand was that science was viewed as no different to magic by most. This was despite it increasing in popularity throughout the first half of the 21st century, or maybe because of it. We accepted levitating frogs and space travel, images beamed from satellites, mobile technology and computer chips able to process information faster then the human brain. But we didn’t really know how they worked, we just believed that they did. Bits of data that travel through the air from my computer to yours on the other side of the world. OK, if you say so.

As science and technology breakthroughs became every day news, we saw image mapping of the brain become much more common. The detail of the images was breathtaking, beautiful, magical. So that’s what my brain looks like when I think of playing tennis, tell a lie, fall in love? Wow.

When this technology became affordable to large organisations, it breathed life into the failing advertising industry. Once it became mobile, it really took off, and suddenly the dream of an open and honest society looked achievable. You can’t lie to me if I know what you’re thinking. By this time, almost everyone on the planet had long given up conventional ideas of privacy, so they shared their brain mapped data with the world at large.

It was just like being psychic.

Scientists had become popular, mainstream, and public funding for scientific experiments had massively increased. The public was fully behind these far-reaching dreams of a future enhanced by all kinds of exotic improvements they couldn’t even imagine, but couldn’t live without. Scientists mistakenly believed that this meant people understood what it was that they did. They didn’t.

The PR agent used by most of the public-facing physicists hastily tried to put together a series of public events that would highlight achievements over the past 100 years, and there were many of them. But it was too late. Our mystical gurus had let us down. What do you mean, time travel isn’t just around the corner?

Faith wained, physicist became a dirty word. Their image was tarnished beyond repair. Sure, they still had hardcore disciples who would preach to you about E=mc2, but no one listened.

Some physicists dabbled with ecology, with genetic engineering and DNA research. Eager to please a sceptical public, some moved into the social sciences.

But the herd had moved on, restless and overfed. Impatiently waiting for the next miracle.

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